Using an Aerial Lift is a common everyday occurrence on almost every job site. They are highly accessible and can pose an ongoing threat by their sheer operational simplicity. However, as OSHA has stated and Aerial Lift Certification has noted, using an aerial lift requires proper training and a clear understanding of the risks involved when operating this equipment.
Utilizing a checklist is essential when operating nearly every piece of construction equipment. Aerial lifts are no different. Aerial Lift Certification has written a fantastic article on this topic that includes a Fool-Proof Pre-Start Inspection Guide and Checklist to help ensure the equipment is not only set up safely but also highlights the associated information and considerations that all aerial lift operators need to know and follow.
A critical element of establishing a safe setup is ensuring that operating equipment is properly supported and stabilized with outrigger pads that are strong and stiff enough for the job. SafetyTech Outrigger Pads in Hi-Viz colors or our standard black are essential tools to support and stabilize equipment and prevent tip-overs due to soft ground conditions and high bearing pressures exerted by equipment.
Beyond stabilizing equipment during operations, it’s essential to prevent unnecessary damage to commercial or residential lawns and landscaping. DICA’s patented SlatTrax Temporary Access Roadways and AlturnaMats Ground Protection Mats perfectly complement our SafetyTech Pads to help stabilize and protect the ground when moving from location to location.
The article below titled, “Create Your Own Aerial Lift Safety Checklist,” was published by our friends at Aerial Lift Certification, this is an excellent resource in creating safer setups.
What is an Aerial Lift Safety Checklist?
OSHA offers safety guidelines to help employees avoid many of the most common on-the-job hazards. Fail to follow these guidelines and the odds of an accident occurring goes up significantly.
Worker safety must always come first. An aerial lift safety checklist can help workers keep safety a priority day after day. With a checklist in their arsenal, workers are empowered to complete duties in the safest way possible.
Of course even the most detailed of safety checklists can’t make up for a lack of worker training.
Without the proper certification, employees are bound to find themselves involved in a workplace accident. Aerial lift training courses can teach workers how to stay safe and use the equipment effectively. Since OSHA requires training of all aerial lift operators, it’s important to prioritize education. Without proper training in place, your workers may find themselves at an increased risk of accidents and injuries. Even if they manage to sidestep workplace accidents, OSHA has been known to levy expensive penalties against companies that don’t properly train their workers.
Start with Aerial Lift Safety Training
Before developing an aerial lift safety checklist, you’ll want to ensure that all employees are adequately trained and certified. A checklist is nothing without context—if your workers don’t understand industry safety policies, they may gloss over the most important aspects of your list.
Training can teach employees how to safely operate a wide range of scissor lifts. They’ll learn how to perform pre-job inspections, how to recognize and remove job site hazards, and how to navigate around colleagues and equipment when operating a lift indoors.
Aerial lift safety training can also ensure that employees know how to operate scissor lifts over various types of terrain. Workers will learn how to safely use all lift controls and how to abide by safety guidelines to prevent accidents.
While scissor lift inspection checklists are undeniably useful, workers must have a baseline of knowledge to know how to use this equipment safely. Fail to train workers and your business may see an uptick in the number of workplace accidents or even be subjected to expensive OSHA fines.
What to Include in Your Aerial Lift Checklist
An aerial lift checklist can help you comply with OSHA safety standards and prevent accidents. Most important, this checklist helps you and your coworkers stay safe on the job.
Now, let’s look at what is included on a aerial lift safety checklist:
Aerial Boom Lift Pre-Use Inspection Checklist
- Proper fluid levels, including the oil, hydraulic, fuel, and coolant
- Any fluid leaks
- Wheels and tires
- Battery and charger
- Lower-level controls
- Warning devices including the horns, gauges, lights, and backup alarms
- Steering and brakes
In addition, parts of the lift to inspect include:
- Operating and emergency controls
- Personal protection devices
- Air, hydraulic, pneumatic, fuel, and electrical systems
- Fiberglass and other insulating components
- Missing or unreadable charts, warnings, or instructional markings
- Mechanical fasteners and locking pins
- Outriggers, stabilizers and other structures
- Loose or missing parts
- Guardrail systems
Remember, even a minor defect can cause significant problems that lead to accidents. If an aerial lift inspection checklist turns up damaged or missing parts, work should not begin until they are repaired or replaced.
Job Site Factors
Every job site has safety hazards, which is why every aerial lift safety checklist should include a thorough inspection of a work area.
All hazards must be recognized and removed before work can begin. These include:
- Drop offs, holes, or unstable surfaces
- Inadequate ceiling heights
- Slopes, ditches, and bumps on the ground
- Debris and other floor obstructions
- Electrical power lines and cables
- Overhead obstructions
- High winds and severe weather like heavy rain and ice
- Other workers in close proximity to the work area
The aforementioned hazards can make it difficult to maintain a safe job site, and you need to address them before they get out of hand. Of course, enrolling in a boom lift safety training program will provide the insights you need to remove job site hazards without delay.
OSHA requires aerial lift workers to have proper fall protection equipment. Workers should also have proper training, so they know how to use their safety gear.
Fall protection gear is designed to prevent falls by restricting worker movement. Some types can also arrest falls when they occur.
Before starting a job, use an aerial lift safety checklist for fall protection gear that ensures:
- All workers have the proper gear.
- Workers have body harnesses or restraining belts and lanyards.
- These are attached to a point on the boom or bucket.
- These are not belted off to nearby structures or poles.
- All access gates are closed.
- Workers stand firmly on a bucket floor or platform.
- Workers don’t climb or lean on or over the guardrails.
- There are no planks, ladders or other devices in the working position.
An aerial lift safety checklist that accounts for fall protection gear is crucial. With this checklist in hand, you’ll be well-equipped to prevent boom lift falls now and in the future.
Any overhead obstruction can increase the risks of an accident occurring. Forceful impacts, electric shocks, and crushing injuries are all possible. Hitting an obstruction with a platform or sloping on unstable ground can also lead to accidents like tip-overs. Thankfully, there are a number of things you can do on your job site to improve aerial lift overhead protection, including:
- Assume all power lines are live.
- Stay at least 10 feet away from all power lines and cables.
- De-energize live power lines in a work zone.
- Keep an eye out for overhead objects.
- Don’t set up the aerial lift between overhead obstructions.
- Set outriggers on pads or a level surface, then set the
- Use wheel chocks on sloped surfaces.
- Set up work zone warnings like cones and signs.
Overhead protection sometimes goes unaddressed, but you need to account for it. By doing so, you can limit the risks of accidents caused by overhead obstructions.
Safe Operational Practices
Thorough safety training can do wonders to prevent aerial lift accidents. While an aerial lift checklist can help workers stay alert to potential issues, it represents the beginning–not the end–of safe operational practices. Once the lift is in use, operate on the assumption that all electrical wires are live. Stay at least 10 feet away at all times. De-energize power lines in the area to prevent electrocution. This tip can seriously save lives!
It’s also important to be mindful of overhead clearances and objects. Buildings, trees, and power lines must all be accounted for when using aerial lifts. Whenever possible, avoid using lifts between such obstructions. Use outrigger pads to work on a level surface. They can really come in handy when you’re trying to avoid shifting or swaying while you work. When working on a hill, be sure to use wheel chocks, too.
What Not to Do When Operating Aerial Lifts
An aerial lift checklist can indeed go a long way to keep workers safe. Still, it’s equally as important to know what not to do when operating aerial lifts. For instance, it’s incredibly important not to overload the lift with workers or tools. Each model has its own unique load capacity. Fail to respect those limits and an accident may become inevitable.
It’s also important that workers avoid using the lift as a crane. Never carry objects larger than the platform area. Avoid driving with the platform raised, too. Respecting the vertical and horizontal limitations is crucial–aerial lifts are designed to operate within a set of parameters. Push those limits and you could find yourself in over your head.
What NOT to do when operating an aerial lift:
- Do not exceed the load capacity limits, taking into account the combined weight of the workers and tools
- Do not use the aerial lift as a crane
- Do not carry objects larger than the platform
- Do not drive with the lift platform raised
- Do not operate the lower level controls unless permission is given from the workers in the bucket or platform
- Do not exceed vertical or horizontal limits
- Do not operate the aerial lift in high winds
Overhead Protection and Stability
Electrocutions, crushed-by, and entanglement accidents can all occur when a worker standing in the bucket or on the platform comes into contact with an overhead obstruction. When placed on an unstable surface or when an aerial lift comes into contact with an overhead object, tip overs can occur causing serious accidents. Follow this aerial lift safety checklist for overhead protection and stabilizing the aerial lift:
- Assume all electrical wires are live
- Stay at least ten feet away from all power lines and cables
- De-energize power lines in the work area
- Be aware of overhead clearances and objects
- Avoid positioning the aerial lift between overhead obstructions
- Set outriggers on pads or a level surface, and set brakes
- Use wheel chocks on sloped surfaces
- Set up work zone warnings like cones and signs
Aerial Lift Training and Retraining
All of these safety practices and tools are vitally important for preventing aerial lift accidents. But the number one method for accident prevention is ensuring all workers are trained and certified. You see, you can have harnesses, lanyards, cones, lights, and can ensure a stable work zone, but if operators are not trained in the safe operation of aerial lifts or how to recognize hazards, accidents can still occur. As an employee, you can protect your life with aerial lift training. And as an employer, you can benefit from more productive workers, and as a result, increase your bottom line. Look to AerialliftCertification.com for your online aerial lift certification. Our program teaches operators everything they need to operate aerial lifts safely, perform inspections, understand fall protection, and all of the other components outlined in this aerial lift safety checklist. Our program is self-paced but takes only about one hour to complete on average. Costing only $299 for the entire training kit, you won’t find a more affordable or convenient OSHA-compliant program. Refresher training is another OSHA requirement for operators, and re-certifications are always free with us. Create an account and complete aerial lift certification today!