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Aerial Lift Safety

Aerial lifts are vehicle-mounted devices that allow workers to perform work above the ground. Construction workers involved in aerial lift accidents could face falls, broken bones and death. Approximately 26 construction workers die each year from using aerial lifts. More than half the deaths involve boom-supported lifts, such as bucket trucks and cherry pickers. These require a body harness with an energy-absorbing lanyard connected to an anchor point provided by the manufacturer. Most of the remaining deaths are electrocutions, falls, and tip-overs involving scissor lifts. OSHA requires full guardrails on scissor lifts.

Here is an example:

Al was working in the aerial lift bucket repairing a sign near some electrical wires. The base of the lift had not been positioned on a flat surface. At one point the lift shifted and one edge caught the electrical wires. Al was shocked by the current and fell 20 feet to the ground. He died as a result of the injuries.

  1. Why did this accident happen?
  2. How could this injury have been prevented?
  3. Have you ever had an injury from aerial lifts or know someone who has had an injury from aerial lifts? If so, what happened?

Preventing Injuries from Aerial Lifts

Before operating an aerial lift:

  • Check operating and emergency controls.
  • Check safety devices such as outriggers, guardrails, and personal fall protection equipment.
  • Look for leaks of air, hydraulic fluid, and fuel.
  • Look for a level surface that won’t shift. Never exceed the manufacturer’s slope limits.
  • Look for hazards such as holes, bumps, debris and overhead power lines.
  • Set outriggers, brakes, and wheel chocks, even if on a level surface.
  • If working near traffic, set up work zone warnings using cones and signs.

While Operating an Aerial Lift:

  • Always close lift platform chains or doors
  • Always wear fall arrest equipment with lanyard attached to a designated anchor point.
  • Always stand on the floor of the bucket. Do not climb on or lean over guardrails.
  • Do not exceed to load limits.
  • Do not drive an aerial lift with the lift extended, unless designated for that purpose.