Aerial lifts are essential pieces of equipment at construction sites and warehouses. However, only certain personnel may operate an aerial lift based on their training and professional knowledge of the equipment. Specific training is needed to ensure your workers and crew members are fully trained on aerial lift equipment and its use and ensure safety requirements and procedures are fully understood.
As with many facets of lift equipment, questions such as “what is an aerial lift?” or “what are the different types of aerial bucket lifts?” and “what type of training is required?” are questions that arise.
What is Considered an Aerial Lift?
Aerial lifts are vehicle-mounted machines or devices used to elevate personnel and equipment to sections of the job site that may be elevated too high above the ground or are in a too hard-to-reach area. Due to their mobility and flexibility, aerial lifts have, in many cases, replaced standard ladders and scaffolding on job sites. Some examples of aerial lifts include:
- Vertical towers
- Aerial ladders
- Extendable boom platforms
- Articulating (jointed) boom platforms
- Any combination of the above
What makes an aerial lift extremely valuable is its mobility and ability to move from job site to job site. Aerial lifts are typically made of metal, fiberglass-reinforced plastic, or other materials, which helps durability.
What are Aerial Lifts Used For?
Aerial lifts are used at external job sites or warehouses to reach elevated or hard-to-reach sections of a job. The following industries and job forces typically utilize aerial lifts:
- Electrical and Energy
- Retail or Warehouses
- Agriculture and Landscaping
Bucket lifts are very versatile, allowing for 360-degree movement. An aerial bucket lift serves the function of raising workers and equipment. There are two types of bucket lifts: non-propelled bucket lifts and vehicle-mounted bucket lifts.
Non-Propelled bucket lifts are usually lighter than vehicle-mounted bucket lifts and, depending on their size, might also need to be towed or carried on a flatbed truck to a site. Most non-propelled bucket lifts are small and compact enough to fit through a standard door frame.
Typical features of the Non-Propelled Bucket Lift:
- Easy to transport
- It fits through a door-frame
Vehicle-mounted bucket lifts have compact bodies and are capable of maneuvering through and around small openings. Their heavy-duty tires provide access to a broader range of locations. You can find the controls of a vehicle-mounted bucket lift in the aerial work platform area, so the worker can drive the lift as they work without having to get down from the lift.
Typical features of the Vehicle-Mounted Bucket Lift:
- More petite body and is more flexible for different spaces
- Controllable from the bucket
- It can reach taller workspaces
What are the different types of aerial lifts?
The three main categories that aerial lifts fall into are scissor lifts, boom lifts, and telehandlers.
Scissor lifts are platforms that raise and lower crew members and heavy loads directly above their base. They also provide exceptional stability, which is what distinguishes the scissor lift from other aerial lifts. Scissor lifts serve the same primary purpose as ladders and scaffolding but with a more reliable reach and more substantial carrying capacity.
Boom lifts are very similar to scissor lifts. However, they can reach higher heights than scissor lifts and can maneuver around obstacles much more effectively. A basic boom lift consists of a grounded base and a lift system that powers a crane and a platform (or a bucket). Boom lifts are sometimes attached to a truck or van, making them very easy to transport.
A telehandler is essentially a rough-terrain flexible-reach forklift. However, they operate very similarly to a typical forklift but at greater heights and in the agricultural and construction industries.
Who is Allowed to Operate an Aerial Lift?
According to OSHA regulations 29 CFR 1910.67(c)(2)(ii), only trained personnel shall operate an aerial lift. However, it does not detail the particular requirement or frequency of the training.
In the construction industry, OSHA requires that only authorized workers operate aerial lifts. Authorized personnel is a person(s) approved or assigned by the employer to perform a specific type of duty or to be at one particular location at the job site.
Employers have the responsibility of planning the training for their operators. Aerial lift operators should be trained before operating an aerial lift or after an incident involving an aerial lift. In addition, if an employer feels re-training or additional training is necessary to ensure safety, additional training should be arranged by the employer.
FAQs about Aerial Lift Operation
What are OSHA aerial lift inspection requirements?
OSHA requires frequent inspections of aerial platforms and equipment per the manufacturer’s instructions. All checks are to be administered by a qualified person of the specific aerial lift and platform. Functions to be inspected include:
- Emergency lowering means successfully operate
- All tasks and their controls are checked for speed, smoothness, and limits of motion
- Placards, warnings, and control markings work successfully
- Lower controls, including the provisions for overriding of upper controls
- Visual inspection of structural components and other critical components such as fasteners, pins, shafts, and locking devices
- All chain and cable mechanisms
- Lubrication of all moving parts – inspection of the filter element(s), hydraulic oil, engine oil, and coolant as specified by the manufacturer
- All emergency and safety devices
- Items specified by the manufacturer
Annual inspections are performed no later than thirteen months from the date of the prior yearly inspection. Annual inspections are complete in accordance with items specified by the manufacturer for a yearly inspection.
As with frequent inspections, a qualified person must administer annual inspections. If there is a failure or issue during the inspection, you cannot put the aerial work platform into service until all failures or problems are corrected.
What are the leg struts used for supporting aerial lifts called?
A job hazard in working with aerial lifts is their potential to tip over if they are on an uneven surface. As such, you can install short metal legs called outriggers on aerial lifts to help keep the equipment stable and help eliminate the potential of the lift from tipping over. These are vital, particularly in outdoor or rough terrain areas.
What are OSHA Aerial Lift Training requirements?
Only trained and authorized persons are allowed to operate an aerial lift. Training requirements for aerial lifts include:
- Demonstrations of the skills and knowledge needed to run an aerial lift before operating it on the job
- Explanations of electrical and falling object hazards
- Instructions for the correct operation of the lift (including maximum intended load and load capacity)
- Procedures for dealing with hazards
- Recognizing and avoiding unsafe conditions in the work setting
- When and how to perform inspections
- Manufacturer’s requirements
When incidents occur, workers should be re-trained. Examples of when re-training should take place are
- An accident occurs during aerial lift use.
- Workplace hazards involving an aerial lift are discovered.
- A different type of aerial lift is used.
Employers are also required to re-train workers who they observe operating an aerial lift improperly. To learn more about training your operators and workers on proper procedure and knowledge of aerial lifts, contact Total Equipment Training. We have the team that will get your team trained today.