Boom lifts are important and convenient pieces of equipment on many construction sites, however, given their size and structure, they can cause serious injuries and even death if appropriate safety measures aren’t taken during operation. The good news is most accidents, injuries, and damage can be prevented. So what are the top 6 things to consider to stay safe when operating a boom lift?
1. Keep the Base and Circumference Clear
It may seem like an obvious safety tip but it is easy for tools and other equipment to fall or be dropped from the platform. It is crucial to ensure the entire circumference of the boom lift is clear of any objects or people while it is in use, to avoid serious injury to anyone standing below.
2. Ensure Operators Are Trained
In Australia, the majority of boom lift accidents are caused by operator error. Therefore, it’s imperative that all operators of boom lifts have undergone the correct training. All operators should be trained in the stabilisation and positioning of aerial lifts, along with fall protection. All new potential employees should be tested to ensure their operational knowledge of the boom lift is up to standard. It’s also important that boom lift operators can detect any potential issues and address them before any accidents occur.
3. Wear a Harness
One of the easiest safety measures you can follow is to wear a harness and ensure the lanyard is fully secured to the bucket. Whilst it’s rare that an operator will fall from the platform, a slight bump from another piece of equipment or object can throw an operator off-balance.
4. Don’t Exceed the Load Capacity
Like with all machinery, boom lifts have limits so it is important to identify and adhere to these restrictions. Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the weight and height limitations when handling a load. Keep in mind, the weight limitations also include the operators, tools and other materials on the platform. It’s important to calculate the combined weight of all of these factors before operating the lift. Remember, boom lifts are there to lift people and tools to reach a certain area to work. They are not meant to lift heavy supplies so if you have heavy supplies to lift, use a crane.
5. Maintain an Appropriate Distance from Power Lines
Electrocution is in the top three most frequent causes of injury or death within boom lift operation. This shouldn’t be surprising given the heights at which boom lifts are often used. There is a likely chance you will be level with power lines at some point while operating a boom lift so it’s important to maintain a safe distance away from them. It is recommended that a distance of at least 10 feet (3 metres) between the power lines and the lift is always maintained. Power lines should also always be treated as though they are live wires, even if they appear insulated or you have been told they are down. It is better to take the cautious and safe approach.
6. Wear Correct PPE Clothing
The last crucial step to safely operating a boom lift is for all operators to wear correct PPE clothing. That is, personal protective equipment like protective and high visual clothing, hard hats, goggles, and rubber soled shoes. This type of clothing helps protect operators from injury and unknown hazards.
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