Aerial Work Platform – Best Practices
The typical boom-lift and scissor-lifts available for purchase or rent nowadays has two sets of controls. One set is installed in the work basket or platform, and are used by the operator during normal operations. However, there is a second set of controls installed on the base of the machines, and these serve different purposes. First of all, the lower controls are to be utilized when conducting pre-use inspections required by most lift manufacturers. Many manufacturers require that at the first of each shift, their lift be placed on a level surface away from obstructions, and the lower controls are then to be used to extend the boom and/or work platform from ground level to ensure there are no problems with the hydraulics and associated equipment. Then the operator must test the upper controls located in the work basket or platform. Testing in this sequence prevents the operator from finding out about a major problem with the hydraulics or other parts of the control system the hard way, which could happen if they were to first test the upper controls located in the basket or work platform.
But there are other purposes for the lower set of controls beside pre-use testing, one of them being to allow someone on the ground to stop the equipment case of an emergency. And the lower controls can be used to lower the basket or work platform should the operator become stranded while elevated. This might be necessary if there is a malfunction of the upper controls, or in case the operator becomes incapacitated. This is why it is suggested that there is actually a need for two “trained operators” when an aerial lift is being used. Having an untrained person operate the lower controls to move and/or lower the basket or platform could result in an accident, such as unintentionally swinging the boom into an overhead power line, crushing a person on the ground, or even tipping the lift over. The person on the ground running the lower set of controls is technically an “operator”, and therefore must be trained in how to utilize the lower controls safely and effectively should the need arise.
Let’s make one thing very clear; this is not saying there has to be a person on the ground designated to follow the lift around at all times during operation to be ready to act instantly “just in case”. It is however advisable that someone needs to be available at the jobsite to lower the basket or platform in case the operator gets stranded, and that person needs to be trained on how to operate the lower set of controls.
So the next time you utilize an aerial lift on the job, ask yourself the following questions; “If I get stuck in the work basket or platform in an elevated position due to equipment malfunction or being incapacitated, who is available at the job site to stop the equipment if needed and lower the basket or platform down?” And more importantly, also ask; “Has that person (or persons) been trained in the operation of the lower controls so they can do so safely?” If the answer to either of these questions is “no” or “I don’t know”, it’s time to schedule a training session.
For more information on loss control services contact Jeff Rausch, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, P: 502-708-3124 www.RMSC.com
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