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