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Ten Safety Tips for Operating Aerial Work Platforms on Construction Sites

The No. 1 priority for aerial equipment manufacturers is to provide safe, productive aerial work platforms for customers working on aerial worksites.

Once the equipment is in the field, operators must follow the prescribed operating practices outlined in manufacturer’s recommended guidelines to keep the equipment working safely and productively.

The best way to prevent incidents from happening while operating an aerial work platform on a jobsite, operators should know and follow these 10 tips for safe work practices:

  1. Read, understand and obey all employer safety rules and worksite regulations, as well as any applicable local, governmental or provincial regulations that apply before operating the machine.
  2. Perform a pre-operation inspection and function tests on the equipment before each shift. If the machine fails any of these tests, make sure it is immediately tagged and removed from service until it can be repaired by a qualified service technician.
  3. Perform a workplace risk assessment prior to moving a machine to the jobsite. Look for drop-offs and holes, slopes, slippery or unstable surfaces, overhead obstacles, power lines and any other hazards that may exist and develop a plan to avoid those hazards through all phases of machine operation.
  4. Wear the proper fall protection. A properly fitted full body harness and appropriate lanyard or self-retracting lifeline will reduce the potential for an operator being catapulted from the platform of a boom. The slightest jar at the base of the machine can equate into a sudden and powerful whiplash at the platform—if this happens, wearing the proper fall protection may reduce the chances of serious injury or even death.
  5. Do not sit, stand or climb on the platform guardrails. Operators should maintain a firm footing on the platform floor at all times. If an operator is required to reach an overhead work area that is too small for the platform guardrails to allow access to, the use of a manufacturer-approved device, specifically designed to provide additional access to confined spaces, is recommended.
  6. Do not exit an elevated boom or scissor lift platform unless properly trained to do so, maintain 100 percent tie-off at all times, and ensure workers are in possession of an approval letter from the manufacturer that provides the proper guidance.
  7. Do not climb down from the platform when it is raised. Whenever possible, keep a cell phone or two-way radio while on the platform and always have a rescue plan in place in the event that aerial machine is not equipped with an auxiliary lowering system (or if that system malfunctions).
  8. Keep the platform floor clear of debris. Scrap materials, buckets, large tool boxes and other items can cause a serious tripping hazard—remove any item from the platform that is not absolutely necessary to perform work.
  9. Lower the platform entry mid-rail or close the entry gate before operating an aerial work platform. Never tape or prop the entry open and never use an aerial machine if the gate does not properly latch.
  10. Receive proper training (both general training and hands-on practical training) on, as well as become familiar with, the exact aerial work platform the employee will be operating. This includes thoroughly reading the operator’s manual and safety signs on the machine, as well as understanding the function and location of all safety devices and controls before beginning operation.


Be sure to follow these simple, safe operating tips to keep aerial work platforms performing productively day in and day out, from one application to another.

2 Replies
  1. I appreciate the tip to maintain 100 percent tie-off at all times around a scissor lift platform. Since I’m thinking of getting a job that would require it, I think I’ll look into attending some scissor lift training. Being able to operate the equipment would really help me out in gaining experience.

  2. Very informative. I believe another article regarding the area under the platform work and the machine movements/rotation as the operator’s responsibility might be a good idea. BOOM MAN LIFTS 46′ to repair high bay bridge cranes predominantly we also install lighting and repair 16′ tall garage doors in an industrial fabrications atmosphere which parallels construction work sites with foot and fork truck traffic all over the place.

    To guard against folks holding a conversation under the work basket while i’m using a 3# sledge to drive a pin from a 10-Ton hoist I decided to place strobe lights on the crane we work on, place cones directly under the overhead work area and caution tape 12′ back all for sides of the base of the machine. you would think folks wouldn’t try and fit between the machine and a pallet of steel plate or a space saver rack however they do unless prohibited by safety zone creation steps around the machine.

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