Tips for staying safe while operating aerial lift equipment

Date Published: June 14, 2019

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, the most dangerous industry in Canada is construction, accounting for 22% of all workplace fatalities, with aerial lift related tasks being one of the most dangerous construction activities.

Injuries sustained from using aerial work platforms tend to be very severe in comparison with accidents involving other industrial construction equipment.

Rental Management Magazine’s review of insurance claims over a ten-year period (1995 – 2005) found that nearly 40% of aerial lift injuries resulted from the equipment overturning.

Overturns, or tip-overs, along with worker falls and electrocutions are just some of the many types of accidents that can occur from unsafe aerial lift operation.

Learn how your industrial construction team can avoid unnecessary accidents with our tips for staying safe while operating aerial lift equipment.

Common types of aerial lift accidents

There are a variety of accidents that can occur from improper aerial lift operation, both from the equipment itself, the sheer height of the work, and materials and objects surrounding the jobsite.

Here are the five most common types of aerial lift accidents:

Aerial lift tip-overs

Aerial lift tip-overs are the most common type of aerial lift accident. They most frequently occur with boom and scissor lifts. Tip-overs often occur when the aerial lift’s bucket cable or boom breaks, or the boom falls over. Tip-overs can be easily avoided by never exceeding load capacity limits, not raising platforms in windy conditions and never operating lifts on uneven terrain.

Aerial lift falls

Employee falls from aerial lifts most commonly occur when a lift is struck by an external object or piece of equipment such as a crane. Worker injuries resulting from these types of incidences can be avoided by workers wearing proper personal protective equipment and ensuring all harnesses and cables are properly and securely fastened to the lift. Ensuring all access gates are closed can also reduce unnecessary injuries from aerial lift falls.

Collapsing material injuries

Injuries occurring from collapsing materials most commonly occur from scissor lifts, as they are often used in indoor industrial construction settings. In addition to unfinished or loose building materials falling onto workers, contact with larger materials can also cause the aerial lift to tip-over. Workers can avoid injuries caused by collapsing materials by ensuring they are aware of any loose site materials before lift operation begins.

Workers being caught between a lift and an object

Jobsite accidents involving workers being caught between a lift and an object most commonly occur with boom lifts. This often happens while the bucket is being moved, posing a risk to workers outside of the lift as well. Workers can avoid these types of accidents by checking the jobsite for hazards before beginning work and remaining at a safe distance from the load.

Electrocutions

Electrocutions while operating aerial lift equipment commonly occur when workers come into contact with a live overhead powerline. Telescopic booms are the most common aerial lift involved in electrocution accidents. Electrocutions can also occur when the lift is not setup on stable ground or employees are not wearing proper personal protective wear. By ensuring your lift is setup on stable ground, and remaining a safe distance from live powerlines, you can help your team avoid electrocutions.

Being aware of the different causes of aerial lift jobsite accidents can help your team proactively plan to avoid these accidents from occurring.

Aerial lift operation safety tips:

According to BIS Training, “unsafe operation, [is] the primary cause of aerial platform incidents.”

Here are a few basic tips to help your team stay safe while operating aerial lift equipment on your jobsite:

  • Always close the lift platform doors or chains
  • Do not lean on or climb over guard rails
  • Always put up work zone signs if you are operating equipment near traffic
  • Do not exceed the original manufacturer’s load-capacity limits
  • Always use personal fall protection
  • Keep the platform free of debris
  • Review manufacturer websites for checklists and other helpful tips on safe operator behavior
  • Never raise your platform in conditions that are too windy
  • Don’t operate your lift on terrain that is too uneven
  • Be mindful of powerlines
  • Inspect your jobsite prior to beginning work to identify and mitigate any potential jobsite hazards.

Serious aerial lift accidents can occur in the blink of an eye, and are often very serious in nature. Avoid these unnecessary and often devastating accidents by always following proper operational safety tips.

Aerial lift safety training


Keep your worksite compliant with Occupational Health and Safety regulations with aerial training and certification services. As part of Axiom Equipment Group’s commitment to safety, we can have a qualified aerial training professional ensure your team thoroughly understands how to safely and effectively operate your aerial equipment.

After your aerial training program is complete, you’ll not only receive a certificate, but you’ll know exactly how to use your aerial equipment while keeping your worksite safe for visitors and workers alike.

Other safety measures

In addition to always following operational safety tips and educating your team with aerial lift safety training, other safety measures you can take to prevent aerial lift accidents on your industrial construction jobsite include:

  • Ensuring equipment inspections are always up-to-date
  • Completing jobsite risk assessments prior to beginning work with aerial lift equipment
  • Coming up with a rescue plan should an accident occur on your jobsite

Proper education, training and creating a culture of safety are necessary to preventing avoidable aerial lift equipment accidents. In addition to preventing injuries, which is the most important aspect of safe equipment operation, additional benefits of preventing accidents include:

  • Reduced insurance costs
  • Less money spent on avoidable equipment repairs
  • Less chance of damage to onsite structures and nearby equipment and supplies
  • Increased jobsite productivity
  • Decreased risk of Occupational Health and Safety fines

By always following operational safety tips, educating your team with aerial lift safety training and taking into account proactive safety measures, you can successfully avoid aerial lift accidents on your industrial construction jobsite.

Axiom Equipment Group’s team has decades of combined experience in equipment rental, sales and service. Working with other internationally accredited organizations, we have the unique ability to provide on-demand products for sale and rent. With our large fleet of new, reliable, well-maintained site equipment, we can meet large project demands quickly and supply quality equipment for smaller projects cost-effectively.

At Axiom Equipment Group, we believe in ZERO DOWNTIME so much that we stand behind it with a unique iron clad promise that combines a reliable equipment fleet with a rapid response program, around-the-clock availability, expert service and a financing option to fit every budget. Gain peace of mind knowing that if your equipment breaks down, we have the inventory to repair and replace it on the fly!