Aerial Lift Deaths from Boom Lifts
Half of the falls from boom lifts involved being ejected from the bucket after being struck by vehicles, cranes, or crane loads, or by falling objects, or when a lift suddenly jerked. Two-thirds of the deaths from collapses/tip-overs of boom lifts occurred when the bucket cable or boom broke or the bucket fell; almost one-third were due to tip-overs. Over one-third of the electrocutions involved an overhead power line contacting the lift boom or bucket. In most of the caught in/between deaths, a worker was caught between the bucket edge and objects such as roof joists or beams while repositioning the bucket.
Aerial Lift Deaths from Scissor Lifts
Three-quarters of the tip-overs of scissor lifts resulted in fall deaths; in the remaining accidents, workers died from being struck by the falling scissor lift. About two-fifths of the tip-overs occurred when the scissor lift was extended over 15 feet, mostly while driving the lift. In one-fifth of the falls the worker was ejected from the scissor lift, mostly when an object struck the scissor lift. Other fall deaths occurred after removal of chains or guardrails, or while standing on or leaning over railings.
Operator Training Is Vital
Frequently operators lack the training to know they are creating safety hazards. An aerial lift is a potentially dangerous tool when the operator has not read the operator’s manual. Contractors should provide required manuals to operators and maintenance mechanics. If they can not read or understand the language of manuals, ANSI safety standards allow others to explain the manuals. OSHA requires a qualified person to train all users on:
- Any electrical, fall, and falling-object hazards.
- Procedures for dealing with hazards.
- How to operate the lift correctly (including maximum intended load and load capacity). The user must show he/she knows how to use the lift.
- Manufacturer requirements.
In addition to the lack of training, many lift accidents are caused by misapplication of the machine, obstacles, and lack or use or incorrect use of outriggers.
Inspect Before Operating Lifts
Identifying and controlling hazards is very important for job site safety. OSHA regulations state that employers cannot force employees to use unsafe equipment. Generally a pre-start inspection is required for all types of aerial lifts at each job site. Check operating and emergency controls, safety devices (such as, outriggers and guardrails), personal fall-protection gear, wheels and tires, and other machine components specified by the manufacturer. Look for possible leaks (air, hydraulic fluid, and fuel-system) and loose or missing parts.
Contractors should immediately remove from service aerial platforms that do not operate properly or are in need of repair. A qualified mechanic must make all repairs using equivalent replacement parts. Substitution of parts is not wise; they have been known to cause accidents. De-energize and lockout/tagout aerial lifts before any maintenance or repairs. Each aerial lift must be inspected as the manufacturer requires – every 3 months or after 150 hours of use, whichever comes first.
Check the job site where the lift will be used. Look for a level surface that won’t shift. Check the slope of the ground or floor. A machine may not work properly on steep slopes that exceed slope limits set by the manufacturer. Look for hazards, such as, holes, drop-offs, bumps, and debris, and overhead power lines and other obstructions. Set outriggers, brakes, and wheel chocks – even if you’re working on a level slope.
Tips for Operating Aerial Lifts
- Always close lift platform chains or doors.
- Stand on the floor of the bucket or lift platform. Do not climb on or lean over guardrails, or ride on bumpers.
- Do not exceed manufacturer's load-capacity limits (including the weight of such things as bucket liners and tools).
- If working near traffic, put work-zone warnings, like cones and signs.
- Do not modify an aerial lift without written permission of the manufacturer.
- Be sure proper personal fall-protection is provided and used.
- On bucket trucks, OSHA requires a full-body harness and lanyard or a restraining device to prevent falls. To help keep workers inside guardrails, OSHA allows restraining devices with a 2 ft. lanyard.
To prevent tip-overs
- Check the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Do not drive with the lift platform elevated (unless the manufacturer assures you that it is allowed).
- Do not exceed vertical or horizontal reach limits or the specified load-capacity of the lift.
- On an elevated scissor lift, avoid too much pushing or pulling.
- If hazards on a job site change, the type of aerial lift changes, or a worker is not operating a lift properly, workers must be retrained.
- Prevent unauthorized use by locking a machine, keeping its keys off the job site, or securing it in an inaccessible area when not working
- Keep the operator’s manual on the machine at the job site not in the office.
- Refer to the industry consensus standard, ANSI/SIA 92.2, for more information.
Many painting contractors rent aerial lifts instead of buying them. Therefore, you may not know which model you will be using, and may be unfamiliar with operator controls and other key features that differ on each model. Also, you may not know the maintenance history of the lift. The dealer or company renting out the lift should:
- Properly inspect and service the lift before rental.
- Provide operator and maintenance manuals.
- Make sure the operator controls are easy to reach and properly marked.
Other sources of information