Aerial Lift Safety

May 29, 2019 | Mark Ligon, Vecellio Group, Inc.

A training class prior to operating the lift would have really helped in this situation. Almost every day somewhere in the world, someone is being catapulted from the basket of an aerial lift and landing like a sack of bricks on the ground below.  This is completely unnecessary and 100% preventable.

OSHA addresses the use of Aerial lifts within CFR 1926.453 of the Construction standard.  Aerial lifts include Extensible Boom Platforms, Aerial Ladders, Articulation Boom Platforms, Vertical Towers and a combination of any such devices.  This is an extremely short standard located before the appendices in Subpart L – Scaffolds.

Some of the requirements listed under the Specific requirements are: (abbreviated)
• Only authorized operators trained to safely operate the equipment allowed
• Lift (including controls) must be tested and inspected each day prior to use
• No tying off to an adjacent structure, pole or equipment
• Operator must stand firmly on the floor
• No sitting or climbing on the edge of the basket
• No planks, ladders or other devices
• A harness shall be worn, and a lanyard attached to the boom or basket when working from an aerial lift.  Body belt is acceptable if not use as part of fall arrest system
• Boom and basket load limits specified by the manufacturer shall not be exceeded
• The base of the lift must be prevented from moving while the boom is in the elevated position.  Wheel chocks on inclines and outriggers positioned on pads or another solid surface.

The use of a harness and lanyard while operating an aerial lift is required specifically for situations like the one shown in the video.  When traversing over uneven surfaces the possibility of an operator being lifted or thrown from the basket is always present.  For this reason, a harness and lanyard, attached to the proper attachment point, is mandatory.  Some “untrained” operators believe that the harness isn’t needed because aerial lifts are equipped with a guardrail system.  While it is true that there is no need for additional fall protection due to the existence of a guardrail system, the harness and lanyard are not acting as a fall protection system when worn in an aerial lift.  It is acting as a restraint system.  Translated as an anti-catapulting device.  After viewing the video, it is obvious it’s needed.

Remember to always follow the manufacturers operator’s manual and keep a copy on the lift at all times.

Stay Safe Out There!