Aerial lifts elevate your personnel, perform those hard to reach jobs. While they serve this great purpose and are generally safe, many workers are killed on aerial lifts each year.

Hazards of Aerial Lifts

The hazards associated with aerial lifts are numerous and lead to personal injury or death. An employee falling from an elevated level if the most thought of hazard. Anytime employees are exposed to a fall height greater than:

    • Four feet (4’) for General Industry
    • Six feet (6”) for Construction Industry

If you work at these height’s you are required to wear fall protection. Fall protection generally include: Body harness, six-foot lanyards, self-retracting lifelines and stress relief straps. The problem with six-foot lanyards in an Aerial Lifts is employees can climb the rails and work outside the safety of the rails. Four-foot (4’) lanyards are ideal for aerial lifts because they keep employees in the rails. Self-retracting lifelines are not ideal for Aerial Lifts because A four-foot lanyard which is anchored at the working surface (the floor) of the aerial lift will prevent employees from climbing the rails an exposing themselves to falls or orthostatic trauma.

Orthostatic trauma is harmful when employees are hanging for too long. Blood flow is restricted, building up toxins which can lead to clots, heart attacks or even death.

Other hazards include: objects falling from lifts, tip-overs, ejections from platforms, electric shock (electrocution), entanglement hazards, contact with objects such as ceilings, pipes and other objects.

Training Requirements

Most people think “how to operate” the Aerial Lift is the training task at hand, but so much more needs to be covered. Detailed explanations of electrical, fall, falling objects must be explained. Procedures and checklift6 are important to recognizing and avoiding unsafe conditions in the workplace. Understanding loads and capacities of the equipment including the importance of the manufacturer guidelines must be covered.

Training employees in recognizing unstable surfaces, holes, drop-offs or even loose dirt and rocks is required. Slopes, ditches, bumps, debris, and floor obstructions needs to be addressed. Strict attention to overhead obstructions, electric powerlines, and cables, as well as wind and weather conditions is required training.

Inspecting the work zone, taking corrective actions, setting outriggers, setting brakes and chocking wheels when necessary are items for training and action in addition to operating the lift is important to incorporate into Aerial Lift training.

Standards that apply to Aerial Lifts include:

    • 29 CFR 1910.67 and 269(p)
    • 29 CFR 1926.21, 453 and 502
    • ANSI/SIA A92.2-1969, A92.3, 92.5 and 92.6