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An aerial lift is ant vehicle-mounted device used to elevate personnel. This includes extendable boom platforms, aerial ladders, articulating (jointed) boom platforms, vertical towers, etc. OSHA has noted that aerial lifts have replaced ladders and scaffolding on many job-sites due to their mobility and flexibility. Without proper training and education on aerial lifts, they can be quite dangerous. 


Aerial lifts have been moving up in the ranks as a common cause of construction workplace injuries. It is important workers are aware of the hazard and risks involved with operating aerial lifts. OSHA outlined common hazards from aerial lifts that can lead to personal injury or even death. This includes the following:

  • Fall from elevated level 
  • Objects falling from lifts
  • Tip-overs
  • Ejections from the lift platform
  • Structural failures (collapses)
  • Electric shock (electrocutions)
  • Entanglement hazards
  • Contact with objects
  • Contact with ceilings and overhead objects


First and foremost, only trained and authorized persons are allowed to operate an aerial lift. Training for operating aerial lifts should includes the following: 

  • Explanations of electrical, fall, and falling object hazards 
  • Procedures for dealing with hazards
  • Recognizing and avoiding unsafe conditions 
  • Instructions for correct operation of the lift (including maximum intended load and load capacity) 
  • When / how to perform inspections 
  • Drop-offs, holes, or unstable surfaces such as loose dirt
  • Inadequate ceiling heights 
  • Slopes, ditches, or bumps
  • Debris and floor obstructions 

Before Operating an Aerial Lift

Before working on an aerial lift, there are many things that need to be done ahead of time to ensure the safety of all parties involved on the work site. Prior to work shift, conduct an inspection to verify the equipment and all its components are in safe operating condition. 

A trained professional should be checking both the vehicle and lift components. Some items to check for involved with the vehicle components include: proper fluid levels (oil, hydraulic, fuel, and coolant), wheels and tires, battery and charger, and more. Items to check for involved with the lift components include: operating and emergency controls, personal protective devices, guardrail systems, and more.

Important to note: If any of these components are defective, do not operate any aerial lift until they are repaired by a qualified person. 

Inspect the Work Zone

Employers must ensure that work zones are inspected for hazards before work on aerial lifts has begun. OSHA notes that items to look out for include:

  • Drop-offs, holes, or unstable surfaces such as loose dirt
  • Inadequate ceiling heights
  • Debris and floor obstructions
  • Overhead electric power lines
  • Weather – high wind, blizzard, and extreme cold and ice conditions
  • Presence of others in close proximity to the work site 

While Operating an Aerial Lift

A common injury construction workers experience while operating on aerial lifts is falls. Falls are the top cause of injuries in construction. Wearing personal protective gear and fall protection will significantly help to ensure workers keep protected while operating at an elevated surface. At Frontier Industrial Corp., safety is the number one tool on the job. The image of an elevated operator to the right is a prime example of what one should be wearing while working on aerial lifts, or any height for that matter. PPE gear includes the following: 

  • Hard hat
  • Safety glasses
  • Hearing protection
  • Safety vest
  • High visibility shirt
  • Safety harness
  • Work pants
  • Safety toe boots
  • Leather gloves 

Other things to keep in mind while operating an aerial lift: 

  • Ensure access gates or openings are closed 
  • Do not climb / lean over guardrails
  • Do not exceed load-capacity limits
  • Do not operate in high wind conditions

At Frontier Industrial Corp., the safety of our workers is our top priority. By following these guidelines and standards, we are better equipped to face any challenge that comes our way, as well as remain safe and protected on the job. For additional information, head to