Man-lifts and scissors lifts are two pieces of equipment that many workers cannot imagine working without. This equipment, if used correctly, provides quick and safe access to work areas that at one time could only be reached from scaffolding or a crane’s man-basket. These lifts, collectively called “Aerial Work Platforms,” are important tools. However, as with any tool, there are right and wrong ways to use them safely.
The most important tip to remember before operating any aerial lift platform is to always read and follow the manufacturer’s safety and operation manual! This information must be kept on the rig and can usually be found in a PVC tube that’s tied to the machine’s frame or rails.
In order to work safely with aerial platforms, get trained on the operating procedures for your job site and task. Get specialized training on each aerial lift model you will use. Know risks and hazards involved with aerial work, including your own risk of falling and the risk of dropping objects onto co- workers below.
The most common causes of death involve electrocutions, rolls, and aerial lift tip-overs. Other causes of injury include being caught between the lift bucket/guard rail and an object in the work environment like a steel beam, joist, or wall. Being struck by a falling object is another common hazard for people working near an aerial lift operation.
Safe Operating Procedures for Man-lifts and Scissor Lifts:
- Set outriggers, brakes, and wheel chocks – even if you are working on level ground;
- If working near traffic, set up work zone warnings, like cones and signs;
- Close lift platform chains or doors;
- Stay on the floor of the bucket or lift platform. Do not climb on or lean over guardrails;
- NEVER exceed manufacturer’s load capacity limits. Always allow for the combined weight of the worker(s), tools, and materials; y
- NEVER override hydraulic, mechanical, or electrical safety devices. NEVER Use planks, boxes, or other items inside the basket to extend reach.
Scissor Lifts Are Efficient One-direction Lifts. Remember:
- Guardrails, mid-rails, and toeboards must be in place. The toeboard can be omitted at the door;
- The platform must be equipped with a mechanical parking brake that will hold the unit securely on any slope it is capable of climbing. The brake should be tested periodically; and
- Never use the lift’s rails, planks across the rails, or a ladder to gain additional height.
Unique Hazards for Man-lifts:
Man-lifts can move in more than just a single direction, thus increasing the risk of potential mishaps, so it’s important to remember the following:
- Whenever working in a man-lift, a full body harness must be worn and properly attached to the man-lift at the approved tie-off location. A sudden jolt has thrown people from man-lifts before they could react. Consult the manufacturer’s safety and operation manual for the approved fall protection and approved anchor point location;
- Always maintain a safe distance from debris piles, drop-offs, floor openings, etc.; and
- Never operate the man-lift when it is elevated above the limit the manufacturer considers safe. Each piece of equipment has a maximum extension point and beyond that point is considered unsafe operation. Working with and around aerial lift devices always presents some risks. It takes everyone working together to minimize hazards and create a safer work environment.
Follow all safety policies and procedures, and if you are ever unsure about how to safely operate or work around an aerial lift device, ask your supervisor immediately.
DON’T TAKE THE RISK! USE GOOD SAFETY SENSE!
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