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Aerial Lift Operator Guidelines

Fall protection is an integral part of your safety as an Aerial Lift Operator. But first, let’s begin with this important reminder.

Operating an aerial lift work platform (AWP) requires you to be an Authorized Operator. This is a requirement of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Operator training is provided by an equipment manufacturer’s Qualified Trainer, usually a representative of the company or an approved equipment vendor. Training must include classroom instruction and hands-on instruction of the specific type(s) of aerial lift platform the Operator will use. The Qualified Trainer will provide the successful Authorized Operator with documentation and clarification when refresher training is required, usually every (5) years. Departments must maintain training documentation. The trainer will often provide wallet cards for the authorized aerial lift operator. Operators are encouraged to keep their card with them at all times when operating an aerial lift.

Aerial Lift Work Platforms - Aerial Lift Work Platforms include: Vertical lifts (i.e. scissors lifts, Genie lifts) that move in an up and down vertical direction, Articulating lifts that move up and down and also extend outward and Truck Boom Lifts (i.e. the aerial lift is mounted in the structure of the vehicle).

Scissors Lifts

Articulating Lifts

Truck Mounted Boom Lift

Fall Protection for Aerial Lift Work Platforms - The Aerial Lift Work Platform, sometimes referred to as the basket, is designed with guardrails which serve as the primary fall protection system. The movable chain or bar at the access point must always be secured after entering inside of the platform to maintain the protection system. The Operator must always remain within the protective system by keeping his or her feet on the floor and never climbing onto the guard rails or overreaching beyond the sides.

Do not compromise your safety. Never climb on the aerial work platform railings. The guardrail is designed to protect you from falling out of the platform. It is NOT designed as a step.
Picture courtesy of OSHA Region IV

Fall Protection for Articulating Boom Lifts - Personal fall restraint equipment is required for articulating boom lifts to keep the operator anchored safely inside of the work platform (or basket). Articulating lifts may become unstable and put the operator at risk of being ejected outside of the protective system of the guardrails. Always consult the AWP Equipment Manufacturer’s Operations and Instruction manual. Their instructions will state the requirements for personal fall restraint equipment and designate where the lanyard anchor point is located inside of the AWP. Always use the designated anchor point. Never connect your lanyard to adjacent structures (i.e. poles) while working inside of the work platform. Refer to Environmental Health & Safety's (EHS) Fall Protection Guideline – Personal Fall Arrest Equipment and Inspection. EHS can advise on equipment training requirements, as a minimum, hands-on equipment training (usually a body harness, shock absorbing lanyard, or self-retractable lifeline) is required.

The anchor points will also be labeled for easy identification. The personal fall restraint equipment specified as best practice is a: full body harness and the shortest length self-retractable lifeline to reduce the fall to the shortest distance possible.

Lanyard Anchor Point Inside of Work Platform

Operator is wearing a Body Harness and Self Retractable Lifeline (Lanyard).
Picture Courtesy of Miller Fall Protection & Safety

Fall Protection for Scissors Lifts - Fall restraint equipment may be designated or recommended by the Scissors Lift Equipment manufacturer to restrain (or tether the Operator) from gaining access to a potential fall hazard (i.e. overreaching the guard rail, stepping up onto the guardrail or, Operator loses their footing in the event the gate or chain has failed to be secured after entering into the lift). It is strongly recommended to only rent scissors lift equipment that includes: toe boards and automatic gates that shut upon entry to prevent such hazards from occurring. If the scissors lift manufacturer designates fall restraint, use a full body harness and the shortest length self-retractable lifeline to reduce a potential fall to the shortest distance possible.

Consultation Available from Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) - The EHS Fall Protection Competent Person can assist you in evaluating the appropriate fall protection for AWP operation. Please contact EHS at 434.982.4911 to schedule a consultation.

Aerial Lift Work Platform (AWS) Operator Safety Resources:
- OSHA Fact Sheet for Aerial Lifts
- Statement of Best Practices of Personal Fall Protection Systems for Aerial Work Platform Equipment - February 2011; 02-11-AWP-SBP002
- Statement of Best Practices of General Training and Familiarization for Aerial Work Platform Equipment - February 2010; 02-10-AWP-SBP001 - Fall Hazard Alert!
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