Operating an Articulating Boom Lift Safely

Operating an Articulating Boom Lift Safely

Boom lifts, in particular, articulating boom lifts, are the most common type of aerial work platform (AWP). So, what makes the articulating boom lift so notable? 

First, many well-known industries rely on AWPs and boom lifts, which makes the most common boom lift very noticeable. Generally, when people think “aerial lift” they envision boom lifts, which look like cranes, but are made from a number of sections that are controllable and extend the lift in a number of directions.

For example, these lifts feature a distinctive shape that allows operators to move up, over and out with precision. As a result, articulating boom lifts enable access to awkward places. Plus, these lifts include various stabilization mechanisms (depending on the make and model) that enable operators to utilize them on unstable ground or steep inclines. Ultimately, this versatility ensures obstacles do not hinder completion of various projects or hard to maintain areas. 

As one of the most common aerial devices, it is important to understand how to operate an articulating boom lift safely.

Articulating Boom Lift Safety Tips 

Everyone that works at or around a construction site, warehouse, building maintenance or similar venue must be aware of workplace safety. And aerial lift operators are not immune! After all, working with aerial lifts remains extremely dangerous due to the simple fact that people are working high above the ground. For example, current safety guidelines aim at ensuring operators wear protective gear that: 

  • prohibits operators from falling more than 6 feet.
  • prevents operators from experiencing more than 1,800 pounds of arresting force.
  • restricts operators from contacting any lower surface. 

Ultimately, there is an inherent risk of falling or being struck by falling debris. As a result, OSHA and ANSI standards help oversee articulating boom lift operations by establishing some workplace safety guidelines.

  • Workplace Safety Hazards

First and foremost, prior to operating any type of aerial lift, users must get in the habit of inspecting the workplace. Importantly, this means more than just the warehouse that holds the lift, but the actual work site. For example, electrocutions remain one of the most common dangers and therefore hazards working with lifts. So, prior to operating, look around the site for overhead wires (this also includes any exposed wires in the ceiling if you are working inside).

Additionally, some other common workplace safety hazards include tip-overs and collapses, which are likely due to improper use, so be cognizant of adhering to the manufacturer’s safety guidelines, particularly as it relates to weight. OSHA also notes the following hazards:

  • Objects falling from lifts.
  • Ejections from the lift platform.
  • Entanglement hazards.
  • Contact with objects/ceilings. 

Finally, to help maintain compliance in workplace safety, OSHA offers some site inspection guidance. Experts recommend taking corrective actions that address and eliminate hazards prior to using a lift and also during the operation of a lift. For example, walk-thru the job site and look for potential hazards, such as: 

  • Unstable surfaces like slopes, ditches, bumps, drop-offs, loose dirt or holes.
  • Debris and/or other obstructions on the floor/ground.
  • Overhead electric power lines, communication cables and other overhead obstruction.
  • High wind and other severe weather conditions.
  • Operating with others in close proximity to lift.
  • Operating Safety Tips

While operating an articulating boom lift (or any aerial device) take the necessary precautions and avoid any unnecessary risks. For example, the risk of falling remains one of the most dangerous elements. Therefore, always stand firmly on the floor of the lift bucket or platform and never climb or lean over the rails. Also, experts recommend always wearing a safety harness or restraining belt (which are part of the OSHA guidelines and ANSI safety standards). And remember, never belt-off adjacent structures or poles while working on the platform or bucket.

Additionally, as part of the operational safety tips, remember to create a stable work zone. In particular, as articulating boom lifts move up, down and around, maintain stability by:

  • Setting outriggers on pads or on a level/solid surface.
  • Setting brakes when outriggers are used.
  • Using wheel chocks on sloped surfaces (when safe to do so).
  • Displaying work zone warnings (such as cones/signs) to warn others.

Finally, be sure to operate any lift, and in particular articulating boom lifts, within the traveling and loading guidelines from the manufacturer. For example, although articulating lifts look like cranes, they are not cranes! Along those lines, OSHA provides some more operating safety tips:

  • Do not exceed the load-capacity limits (and take the combined weight of the worker(s), tools and materials into account when calculating the load).
  • Do not carry objects larger than the platform.
  • Do not drive with the lift platform raised (unless the manufacturer’s instructions allow this).
  • Do not operate lower level controls unless permission is obtained from the worker(s) in the lift (except in emergencies).
  • Do not exceed vertical or horizontal reach limits.
  • Do not operate an aerial lift in high winds above those recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Do not override hydraulic, mechanical, or electrical safety devices. 
  • Articulating Boom Lift Maintenance Tips 

Maintenance starts during pre-use inspections and continues while in the field and upon returning to the storage site. Remember to routinely complete the following aerial lift maintenance checks: 

  • Personal Safety Equipment, which ensures safety gear, such as gloves, hats, harnesses and glasses, remain in good condition.
  • Tire Pressure, which avoids compromising safety concerns during the operation of the device.
  • Fluid Levels, which ensures oil, hydraulic, gas, brake and other fluids remain at appropriate levels (based on manufacturer’s guidance).

Additionally, following any job, remember to complete a post-work inspection as well. In a post job examination conduct a concise inspection, which reduces the possibility of small problems becoming more significant dangers. Plus, remember to take notes, which creates a detailed record of inspections, maintenance and repairs.  

Finally, for more information on maintaining your aerial lift equipment, Aerial Equipment Parts maintains a vast inventory of replacement parts. We are an equipment parts wholesaler and understand it is important to speak with sales representatives that know the aerial lift industry when looking to maintain your equipment and ensure its longevity. Rest assured, when you call AEP you will speak with someone who knows parts. Plus, we know when you need a part, you need it fast to ensure your operations don’t slow down. As a result, we maintain stocked warehouses throughout the US and ship Monday through Friday 7:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. CST. 

For any aerial lift equipment questions, contact us today at 303-704-7000 or contact@aerialequipmentparts.com.

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