10 Need-To-Know Safety Tips for Aerial Lift Equipment

July 29, 2015

Aerial lift equipment operators face a myriad of safety issues both overhead and on the ground, as well as the challenge of conducting their work high in the air on somewhat small operating platforms. As a result, both equipment and personal safety challenges are...elevated.

Aerial lift manufacturer Genie has compiled 10 key safety tips for AWP and scissor-lift operation. Some also apply to telehandler operation.

  1. Training. Make sure you have received proper training (both general and hands-on), as well as familiarization with the product you will operate.
  2. Inspection. Perform a pre-operation inspection and functions test before each shift. This is no different from checking a dozer for hydraulic leaks, unusual wear, or debris in the tracks, and testing to be sure the blade moves freely in the directions it is supposed to.
  3. Job site risk assessment. Perform a risk assessment by looking for drop-offs, holes, slippery or unstable surfaces, overhead obstacles, power lines and other hazards.
  4. Fall protection. Wear fall protection when operating a boom. This means a full body harness and lanyard or self-retracting lifeline.
  5. Guardrails. Never sit, stand or climb on guardrails for any reason. A few feet of extra reach is not worth the risk.
  6. Tie-off. Never exit an elevated boom or scissor lift platform unless you have been trained, are properly tied-off, and possess a letter from the manufacturer.
  7. Rescue plan. In the event that you cannot lower the aerial, have a rescue plan in place so other trained and familiarized personnel are aware you are operating the unit and can assist from the ground controls.
  8. Debris. Keep the platform clear of all debris. Remove any item that is not necessary to do your work. Yesterday’s tools can get in the way of safety on today’s job. Use approved attachments for bulky items.
  9. Entry gate. Close the entry gate before operating the aerial.
  10. Regulations. Always read and understand employer’s safety rules and worksite regulations, as well as applicable local regulations.

Engage with manufacturers

Manufacturers are an excellent resource for safety information and training. The major OEMs have made huge investments in training that managers and operators may not be familiar with.

Genie has its very detailed LiftPro online operator training available, as well as extensive hands-on classes.

JLG recently spent $2.5 million to quadruple the size of its customer training center and proving grounds at its headquarters in McConnellsburg, Pa. The new spaces allow the company to accommodate more students and more machines.

The four-acre outdoor proving grounds course provides trainees with a hands-on learning experience to develop driving and operating skills on telehandlers, scissor lifts and boom lifts.

“Whether it’s classes for equipment operators or service technicians, or our Train-the-Trainer program, this new facility will make it easier for students to learn because they’ll have more multimedia resources, more equipment, more space and more comfort,” said Rick Smith, JLG Industries’ senior director of product training. “We’ve expanded the indoor demonstration area to include four bays that feature 30-foot-high ceilings to accommodate as many as four JLG Ultra Booms.”

The additional bays also allow JLG to conduct multiple training classes at the same time in a climate-controlled environment that protects participants from the elements. Live demonstrations are enhanced with multimedia projections on a large screen and several HD monitors that ensure students a clear view of the lesson no matter the class size.

Customers also have the opportunity to operate equipment outside on the new proving grounds, a safe environment that recreates a working construction job site. The grounds feature mixed terrain, structures for placing and picking telehandler loads, and several aerial work platform targets to simulate real-world applications. Participants maneuver equipment under and around obstacles, including simulated power lines, while moving up and down slopes and grades.

“The proving grounds give students in operator training a chance to take what they’ve learned in the classroom and apply it in a setting that duplicates many of the scenarios they’re likely to encounter on the job,” Smith says. “For example, the simulated power lines help them identify voltage on a power line and determine the minimum safe distance that must be maintained.”

The 17,000-square-foot indoor space includes three classrooms, a coffee/dining area, and meeting space. The newest classroom can accommodate up to 24 people and includes a 20-foot atrium ceiling, large projection screen with dual HD monitors, and an audio/video control panel. In addition, an 8-foot door provides access to the bay to move small machines into the classroom.

High-tech height simulation

Taking a page from the earthmoving industry, JLG also has added a lift and access equipment simulator to its teaching tools at McConnellsburg. The simulator employs advanced gamification learning to familiarize operators with the controls and operation of the JLG 800S telescopic boom lift and the JLG G10-55A telehandler. It offers three training sessions on each piece of equipment, including controls familiarization and two operation scenarios (beginner and advanced levels).

“All of the controls work just like those on a boom lift or telehandler. Two joysticks allow an operator to maneuver height and reach, and also drive the machines,” Smith says. “Everything is to scale, and the module offers two views: one from the operator’s perspective and a second external side view of the equipment. The simulator helps reduce the learning curve when a user first operates a piece of equipment, as it replicates working with an actual machine on an actual job site.”

The equipment simulator depicts JLG’s proving grounds at its customer training center that includes obstacle courses, and areas where operators are assigned loads to move and obstacles and hazards to maneuver around and over, including telephone poles with simulated power lines. Users registered with JLG University can also access the equipment simulator remotely via personal computer and by using an iPad.