A boom lift, also known as a cherry picker or an elevated work platform, is a type of aerial lift used to safely elevate workers to perform tasks at heights. These machines are widely used in construction, maintenance, and other industrial settings, but they can also pose significant safety risks. According to the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF), there were 28 reported fatalities involving boom lifts globally in 2019, highlighting the importance of adhering to safety protocols while operating or working near these machines.

To ensure the safety of boom lift operators and workers, it is crucial to understand the different types of boom lifts and the potential hazards associated with them. The most common types of boom lifts are:

To operate a boom lift safely, there are certain best practices that operators should follow, including:

In addition to these safety measures for operators, there are also precautions that workers should follow when working near a boom lift, including:

Some of the common hazards and risks associated with operating a boom lift include:

To prioritize safety on the job, boom lift operators and workers should:

By following these best practices and prioritizing safety, operators and workers can ensure a safe and successful use of boom lifts.

What is a Boom Lift?

A boom lift is a type of aerial work platform that provides access to elevated areas. It consists of a platform or bucket at the end of a hydraulic lifting system attached to a grounded base. Boom lifts are commonly used for maintenance, construction, and other tasks requiring access to high places.

The concept of the boom lift originated in the 1950s when the need for safer and more efficient aerial work platforms became apparent in the construction industry. The first modern boom lift was developed by John L. Grove, revolutionizing the way workers accessed elevated areas.

What are the Different Types of Boom Lifts?

When it comes to operating a boom lift, safety should always be the top priority. However, it’s also important to understand the different types of boom lifts available in order to choose the most suitable one for the job. In this section, we will discuss the various types of boom lifts, including articulating, telescopic, trailer-mounted, and spider lifts. Each type has its own unique features and functions, and knowing the differences can help operators and workers make informed decisions for a safe and efficient work environment.

1. Articulating Boom Lifts

Articulating boom lifts, also known as knuckle lifts, are versatile and suitable for reaching up, over, and around obstacles. The following are steps to operate articulating boom lifts safely:

  1. Inspect the equipment thoroughly before operation.
  2. Ensure proper training and certification for operating the specific model.
  3. Use personal protective equipment, including a full-body harness.
  4. Adhere to load capacity limits specified for the lift.
  5. Stay vigilant of the surroundings to prevent potential hazards.

2. Telescopic Boom Lifts

Telescopic boom lifts, such as Genie S-60, offer exceptional reach, making them ideal for accessing high areas in construction or maintenance projects. These lifts use a straight arm design, extending vertically and horizontally to provide versatile reach and height capabilities.

3. Trailer-Mounted Boom Lifts

Portability: These boom lifts are easily transportable due to their hitch and wheel design.

Height: They can reach varying heights, typically up to 50 feet, providing versatility for different work environments.

Stabilisation: Equipped with outriggers, ensuring stability and safety while elevating workers.

Did you know? Trailer-mounted boom lifts are often used for tasks like tree trimming and exterior building maintenance due to their mobility and height capabilities.

4. Spider Lifts

Spider lifts, also known as atrium lifts, are compact aerial work platforms ideal for reaching tight spaces and working at height in narrow or confined areas. They are equipped with multi-jointed booms that provide flexibility and precise positioning, making them suitable for indoor maintenance, construction, and installation tasks. These lifts offer exceptional outreach and height capabilities, with non-marking tracks or wheels that enable operation on delicate flooring or sensitive surfaces. Spider lifts are designed to navigate through standard doorways and access areas inaccessible to traditional boom lifts, enhancing versatility in various work environments.

What are the Safety Measures for Operating a Boom Lift?

When operating a boom lift, it is crucial to prioritize safety for both the operator and any workers in the vicinity. In this section, we will discuss the specific safety measures that should be taken when using a boom lift. From proper training and certification to staying alert and aware of surroundings, we will cover all the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and successful operation. Let’s dive into the best practices for operating a boom lift.

1. Proper Training and Certification

Enrol in an accredited training programme for boom lift operation.

Complete the theoretical and practical components of the training.

Obtain certification upon successful completion of the training programme.

Fulfilling proper training and certification ensures safe and competent boom lift operation, reducing workplace accidents and enhancing productivity.

2. Conducting a Pre-Operation Inspection

Check the boom lift controls for proper operation.

Inspect the lift platform for any damage or debris.

Examine the hydraulic and air lines for leaks or wear.

Test the emergency controls and lowering system.

Verify that all safety devices are functional.

Prior to using a boom lift, conducting a pre-operation inspection is crucial for ensuring safe and efficient operation. By following these steps, operators can mitigate potential risks and maintain a secure work environment.

3. Using Personal Protective Equipment

Select the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the task, including a hard hat, safety harness, and non-slip footwear. Ensure that the PPE fits properly and is in good condition before each use. Follow manufacturer’s guidelines for PPE maintenance and replacement schedules. Regularly inspect and clean PPE to maintain its effectiveness.

4. Following Load Capacity Limits

Ensure to check the load capacity limits specified by the manufacturer for the specific boom lift model.

Verify the weight of the workers, tools, and materials to be lifted does not exceed the designated load capacity.

Adhere strictly to the load capacity limits to prevent overloading, which can lead to instability and potential accidents.

Prioritise safety by never compromising on load capacity, even if it means making additional trips for lifting tasks.

5. Staying Alert and Aware of Surroundings

Stay focused on the task at hand and avoid distractions.

Regularly scan the work area for potential hazards or obstacles.

Be mindful of other equipment, vehicles, or workers in the vicinity.

Communicate effectively with coworkers to coordinate movements and ensure everyone’s safety.

Stay updated with the latest safety procedures and best practices for operating boom lifts.

It’s crucial for boom lift operators to prioritize safety by staying alert and aware of surroundings at all times to prevent accidents and ensure a secure work environment.

What are the Safety Measures for Workers Working Near a Boom Lift?

As with any heavy machinery, boom lifts come with their own set of safety risks. It is crucial for both boom lift operators and workers on the ground to prioritise safety at all times. In this section, we will discuss the essential safety measures that workers should follow when working near a boom lift. From maintaining a safe distance to knowing emergency procedures, these guidelines will help ensure the well-being of everyone involved in the operation.

1. Maintaining a Safe Distance

Operators and workers should always maintain a safe distance from overhead obstacles, electrical lines, and other potential hazards. Constantly assess the surroundings to ensure a safe distance is maintained from other personnel, equipment, and structures. Use spotter assistance when manoeuvring in congested or high-traffic areas to maintain a safe distance. Regularly communicate and coordinate with other workers to ensure a safe distance is maintained at all times.

During the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge in the 1870s, workers maintained a safe distance from the suspended cables to prevent accidents, showcasing the importance of distance safety measures even in historical engineering projects.

2. Wearing High Visibility Clothing

Wearing high visibility clothing is crucial for boom lift operators and workers to enhance visibility in low light conditions. Choose high visibility garments that comply with safety standards and regulations to ensure optimal protection. Inspect the clothing regularly for any damages or signs of wear and tear that may compromise visibility. Properly maintain and clean high visibility clothing to sustain its effectiveness in different work environments.

3. Communicating with the Operator

Establish eye contact and maintain clear visibility. Use hand signals for effective communication. Utilise radios or communication devices for long-distance operations. Confirm understanding of instructions before proceeding.

4. Knowing Emergency Procedures

Assess the situation to determine the nature and severity of the emergency. Notify the appropriate personnel or emergency services immediately. If safe to do so, provide first aid or assistance to those in need. Evacuate the area following established safety protocols and procedures. Do not re-enter the area until the all-clear is given by authorised personnel.

What are the Common Hazards and Risks of Operating a Boom Lift?

As with any job, safety should always be the top priority for boom lift operators and workers. In this section, we will discuss the common hazards and risks that come with operating a boom lift. These hazards can range from falls from heights to tip-overs, electrocution, and struck-by hazards. By understanding these potential dangers, we can take the necessary precautions and best practices to ensure the safety of everyone involved in boom lift operations.

1. Falls from Heights

Inspect the work area for potential fall hazards before operating the boom lift.

Always wear a harness and ensure it’s properly secured to the boom lift’s designated anchor point.

Follow strict fall protection guidelines and regulations established by relevant authorities.

Regularly inspect and maintain fall protection equipment to ensure it’s in optimal working condition.

Boom lift operators and workers should prioritise safety by consistently reinforcing the importance of fall prevention measures and conducting thorough safety checks before starting any task.

2. Tip-Overs

To prevent tip-overs when operating a boom lift, follow these critical steps:

  1. Ensure the boom lift is set up on stable and level ground.
  2. Be mindful of wind and weather conditions that may affect stability.
  3. Avoid exceeding the maximum allowable load capacity specified by the manufacturer.
  4. Keep the boom and platform within the specified operational envelope.
  5. Regularly inspect the lift for any signs of wear or damage.

A construction crew successfully prevented a potential tip-over incident by carefully monitoring wind conditions and relocating the boom lift to a more stable area.

3. Electrocution

Ensure the cherry picker is kept clear of overhead power lines and electrical hazards.

Prioritise the use of non-conductive materials for work around electrical components.

Regularly inspect the cherry picker for any damaged or exposed wiring.

Provide training on identifying and avoiding electrical hazards.

4. Struck-By Hazards

Stay clear of the swing radius of the cherry picker to avoid being struck-by hazards. Ensure that workers are aware of the cherry picker’s movement to prevent struck-by incidents. Implement designated walkways and barriers to keep workers away from the operating area of the cherry picker, reducing the risk of struck-by hazards.

How Can Boom Lift Operators and Workers Prioritize Safety on the Job?

Boom lift operators and workers face a high-risk work environment, making safety a top priority on the job. In this section, we will discuss the importance of regularly reviewing safety protocols to ensure a safe and accident-free work environment. By staying up-to-date on safety procedures, boom lift operators and workers can minimise the risk of potential accidents and injuries. Let’s take a closer look at how this simple practice can make a significant impact on workplace safety.

1. Regularly Reviewing Safety Protocols

Regularly review the manufacturer’s guidelines for operating the specific type of boom lift.

Stay updated with any changes in safety regulations or protocols related to boom lift operation.

Conduct frequent safety meetings with all boom lift operators to discuss any concerns or updates regarding safety protocols.

The evolution of boom lifts parallels the advancements in safety measures. Over time, safety protocols have become more stringent, prioritising the well-being of operators and workers.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are some common hazards to be aware of when operating aerial lifts at a construction site?

Some common hazards include unstable ground, high winds, falling objects, electrical hazards, and collision hazards. It is important to prioritise safety and be aware of potential risks in the work area.

2. How can workers prevent trips and falls while using boom lifts?

Workers should always maintain three points of contact when entering and exiting the platform, wear proper fall/travel restraint systems, avoid using ladders or other items for additional reach, and keep the platform floor and footwear clean and free from slippery substances.

3. What precautions should be taken to prevent accidents and injuries when operating mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs)?

Before operation, all gates should be closed and the platform assembly fully lowered. During operation, workers should maintain three points of contact, avoid overloading the platform, and stay aware of their surroundings. After use, the platform should be fully lowered and all equipment properly stored.

4. What safety resources and information are available from access equipment manufacturer JLG Industries?

JLG offers a safety check video, safety tips for operating MEWPs, and Operations & Safety Manuals with essential precautions, inspection guidelines, and information on potential hazards. Workers can also subscribe to Direct Access for monthly updates on industry news and issues.

5. How can employers effectively manage safety on construction sites and avoid legal liabilities?

Employers should prioritise safety by providing proper training and equipment, conducting regular inspections and maintenance, and following regulatory standards and guidelines set by organisations like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

6. What are some best practices for operating aerial lifts in limited space or on uneven surfaces?

When working in confined or narrow spaces, workers should use extreme caution and be aware of potential pinch points or moving parts. For uneven surfaces, it is important to properly stabilise the lift and avoid overloading or using the lift in high winds. In both cases, awareness of the surface conditions and proper use of the equipment is crucial for safety.