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About 26 construction workers die each year from using aerial lifts. More than half of the deaths involve boom-supported lifts, such as bucket trucks and cherry pickers; most of the other deaths involve scissor lifts. Electrocutions, falls, and tip-overs cause most of the deaths. Other causes include being caught between the lift bucket or guardrail and object (such as steel beams or joists) and being struck by falling objects. (A worker can also be catapulted out of a bucket, if the boom or bucket is struck by something.) Most of the workers killed are electrical workers, laborers, painters, ironworkers, or carpenters.

 

On Oct. 12 in downtown Philadelphia, a 41-year-old employee was using the 125-ft-tall AWP to inspect the façade of the city’s First Presbyterian Church. Investigators believe the employee, who was running the unit on an urban sidewalk, drove over a vault lid with the boom extended. The lid collapsed under the weight of the 20-ton machine, throwing the machine off balance and causing it to tip over. “He was very experienced,” says the owner of Masonry Preservation Group Inc. The lid that collapsed is a common sidewalk covering made of “a composite fiberglass” material, says Al D’Imperio, Philadelphia-area director of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “We are looking at all aspects of the site,” he adds. City officials say the vault cover, about 1 ft. wide, 2 ft. long and owned by cable company Comcast, was up to code.


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Before Operating an Aerial Lift

  • YOU MUST BE AN AUTHORIZED OPERATOR!

  • Check operating and emergency controls, safety devices (such as, outriggers and guardrails), personal fall protection

  • gear, wheels and tires, and other items specified by the manufacturer.

  • Look for possible leaks (air, hydraulic fluid, and fuel-system) and loose or missing parts.

  • Check the area the lift will travel and be used.

  • Look for a level surface that won’t shift.

  • Check the slope of the ground or floor; do not work on steep slopes that exceed slope limits listed 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.

  • Check the wind speed. Are you above the manufacturer’s maximum wind speed


SAFETY REMINDER

UNDERSTAND THE LIMITS AND ABILITIES OF THE LIFT AND ALWAYS INSPECT THE LIFT AND THE SURFACE BEING USED.


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