STAYING SAFE ON THE ROOF
Aerial lift operations are an integral part any rooftop contracting or maintenance work. Aerial lift equipment like boom lifts and scissor lifts, require a preparation and caution to ensure safe and successful operation. Below are the top 5 aerial lift safety tips to help ensure safe practices for using lifts and lift related equipment.
An aerial lift, also known as an aerial work platform (AWP), elevating work platform (EWP), or mobile elevating work platform (MEWP), is any convenience used to provide temporary access for people or equipment to areas otherwise inaccessible by height. Individual types of lift devices include the “cherry picker” and the “scissor lift”, but all follow the same principle and require the same safety precautions.
An aerial lift rotates and moves in three dimensions. As a result, workers exposed to the Top Four Construction Hazards during operation. This includes Falls, Struck by, Caught-in/Between, and Electrocution. It is imperative that each operator receives specific training for any aerial lift. This includes specifics training on the make/model of equipment that he or she will be using. Equipment manufacturer manuals, equipment rental company classes, and any relevant Job Hazard Analysis sheets are all necessary to ensure throughout training. Furthermore, all operators shall carry current Aerial Access Cards that show they are certified and properly trained to operate specific equipment.
KNOW THE HAZARDS OF AN AERIAL LIFT
Many rooftop projects in industrial facilities can be particularly hazardous with regard to lifting operations. For instance, steel mills utilize overhead cranes to move product such as steel coils. When operating in any area that uses an overhead crane, it is vital that the team work closely with the crane operators. This ensures the crane is locked-out and that there are no collisions with the aerial lift. This may seem obvious but recalling the five hazardous attitudes that compromise workplace safety reminds us that nothing can be taken for granted.
Another indoor hazard is the energized crane rail that supplies power to operate the overhead crane. These power supplies are typically 480V and would result in a disaster if accidentally contacted. It is vital that the team makes sure that these power supplies are locked-out before operating any aerial lift.
Overhead power hazards are also a concern outside. When working outdoors, pay attention to your proximity to overhead electrical conductors. Reference the OSHA materials for guidelines regarding the minimum safe distance. Also, disconnect the power and lock out devices when possible.
Certain power lines, including power transmission lines, operate at extremely high voltages and may have special rules for working in proximity to them. Know these rules and live by them. Keep in mind, you do not have to physically contact high voltage power lines to generate an arc and risk electrocution. Please keep your distance and know your Aerial Lift Safety Tips.
Once the area above the lift has become approved the next step is to look down. The operator must make sure that the ground below the lift is stable before using the equipment. He or she must be on the lookout for unstable or shifting soil. This could lead to a lift losing its balance when extended. Make sure that any stabilization components are properly in place before extended the lift. And of course, never move or drive a lift with the platform extended.
This post designed as an overview, and it doesn’t cover all the knowledge/skill requirements for safe lift operation. For instance, this post doesn’t even mention the importance of harnesses with lanyards. Nor does it mention the necessity of finding a designated tie-off point on the lift. Recurrent safety reviews and hands-on training required to maintain aerial lift safety proficiency and to ensure a safe job site.
TOP 5 AERIAL LIFT SAFETY TIPS
- Know what’s overhead
- Make sure the lift equipment is stable
- Be mindful of proximity to power lines
- Wear a full body harness with proper tie-off
- Never move or drive a lift with the platform extended