Bringing Aerial Lift Safety Down to Earth
Nearly 250,000 crane operators, other industry workers, and non-construction working individuals are at risk of suffering serious injury or death in aerial lift accidents each year.
An annual study conducted by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety in 2010, revealed that the direct cost to employers from injuries in 2008 was $53.42 billion.
Furthermore, the study concluded that accidents at the workplace were estimated to cost employers an additional $80 to $200 billion annually.
To limit injury and death OSHA has instituted a strict policy dealing with aerial lifts.
Through this policy OSHA requires implementing standard emergency procedures, training for usage, maintaining lifts properly, providing the proper personal protection equipment and more.
These training policies are proven to reduce the likelihood of injury and save employers billions.
Different Types of Aerial Lifts
An aerial lift is a device that enables access to hard-to-reach places by lifting a platform into the air. These devices give workers temporary access to otherwise inaccessible locations. They are typically safer to use than ladders and scaffolds. The devices are easy to use.
These devices are typically powered by electricity, gas, pneumatic or hydraulic systems that power a series of often metal supports.
Commonly known types of aerial work platforms include the cherry picker or bucket truck and the scissor lift.
These devices are distinguishable by the type of platform used to lift workers.
Hand tools are tools that are powered manually. The scissor lift is an industrial lift modified for retail and wholesale settings. The lift features a platform that rises when the linked, folding supports underneath it draw together, stretching it upward. These lifts can reach from 21 to 62 feet above ground. In addition to moving horizontally, the lifts can move vertically as well. The lifts are typically powered by an electronic motor.
Bucket Trucks and Cherry Pickers
Cherry pickers and bucket trucks are types of aerial lifts containing a fiberglass or steel platform (bucket) secured to a hydraulic or electric lifting system, which includes the lifting arm(s) (boom), and a rotating turret. These arms are mounted to trucks, vans, trailers and other motorized devices. The system is designed to safely lift personnel into the air to perform work. Some bucket trucks are also equipped with a material handling winch designed to lift materials and supplies.
These lifts are used in a variety of industries, the most common being electric utility, telecommunications, lights and signs, and vegetation management.
The Hazards of Aerial Lifts
Tampa, Fla., May 2011 – An electrical contractor in a bucket truck was killed after being shocked while working on a transformer. He sustained life-threatening injuries when he came in contact with a live wire. He was taken to a hospital where he later died.
Tunica, La., April 2011 -A 38-year-old man was killed after the aerial lift he was operating overturned and crushed him. The equipment overturned while on a slight incline.
Crane accidents are one of the leading causes of death and injury in the construction industry. Nearly 250,000 crane operators, other industry workers, and non-construction working individuals are at risk of suffering serious injury or death in crane accidents each year.
Of those at risk about 26 die each year. More than half of the deaths involve boom-supported lifts, such as bucket trucks and cherry pickers; most of the other deaths involve scissor lifts.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these deaths account for 17% of fatal injuries in U.S. construction. But the proportion of injuries actually involving construction vehicles and equipment is probably greater. A study of OSHA reports by Hinze and Bren (1996) found that cranes were reported to be involved in 108 (38%) of 284 fatal electrical injuries in the construction industry that involved heavy equipment. Types of Crane & Aerial Lift Injuries. 
Serious injuries and death from crane accidents occur due to:
- crane collapses
- tip overs
- crane design defects
- falling equipment
- dropped loads from poor rigging
- working in high winds
- electrocutions from high voltage electrical wire contact
- injuries during erection or dismantling of the crane
- lack of inspections
- mechanical failure
- operator error
- inadequately trained or certified crane operators
Injuries Cost Employers Billions
While the sheer number of those injuries is staggering, the financial impact they place on employers is overwhelming.
An annual study conducted by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety in 2010, revealed that the direct cost to employers from injuries in 2008 was $53.42 billion. 
Furthermore the study concluded that accidents at the workplace were estimated to cost employers an additional $80 to $200 billion annually.
A second report by the U.S. Department of Labor cemented the finding of the insurance groups report. This report stated the average workplace injury cost an employer $43,000. The same study estimated the cost from wage replacement due to injury to be roughly $50 billion a year.
“An accident at the workplace can often be the difference between operating in the black and falling into the red,” said Safety Services CEO Devon Dickenson.
Requirements of Aerial Lifts
Both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) have a series of rules designed to protect employees using aerial lifts.
American National Standards Institute requires that aerial lifts are inspected before use. Inspections are required for making sure all of the controls operate and that the equipment is free of defects.
The organization also specifies that equipment shall only be moved or adjusted when the aerial lift is in the retracted or grounded position; brakes must always be set to lock the equipment into place when workers are lifted, workers are to remain within the confines of the lift at all times during operation; and they must also wear the proper fall protection equipment.
While the regulations of ANSI are only recommendations, OSHA has in place a series of requirements that all employers using aerial lifts must abide to. These regulations are CFR’s 1926.453, 1926.454, 1926.451, 1926.452, and 1926.454.
OSHA safety requirements for aerial lifts include securing the boom or ladder in the stored position when the vehicle is in motion, employees must have a body harness and lanyard attached to the bucket or boom, and obeying weight limits of the boom and bucket posted by the manufacturer.
OSHA says a qualified person must train all users.
The training must include:
- Any electrical, fall, and falling-object hazards
- Procedures for dealing with hazards
- How to operate the lift correctly
- Manufacturer requirements
- Personal Protection Equipment
- Fall Protection
The Benefits of Safety Training
While the blow of a workplace injury is crippling to many companies, safety training programs are proven to drastically reduce the risk of injury and increase workplace productivity.
Through independent studies, OSHA has confirmed employers who have in place a safety and health training program experience a 52 percent lower rate of “injury with days away” than employers without a program. 
A second study of private industry employers by OSHA found even more benefits to a safety training program.
Here are a few highlights of those programs:
Company Benefits: 
- Average Sales rose 7.5 percent
- Manufacturing defects and waste dropped from $2.7 million in 2001 to $435,000 in 2005
- Improved decision-making
- EMR dropped by 45%
Safety and health also make big reductions in indirect costs, due to: 
- Increased productivity
- Higher quality products
- Increased morale
- Better labor/management relations
- Reduced turnover
- Better use of human resources
The value of training is further emphasized by a study of 41 workers hospitalized for hand injuries. Through the survey of these employees conducted by members of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) it was discovered more than half had no on the job training for the equipment that caused their injury.
Workplaces that establish safety and health management systems can reduce their injury and illness costs by 20 to 40 percent, according to OSHA.
A NIOSH study of 55 confined workplace fatalities found that only three of those losing their lives ever received training on the proper workplace safety procedures.
A study of the California insurance industry also revealed that every dollar invested in safety training resulted in $3 or more dollars in savings,”
Safety training is not a cost, it is an investment.
There Is a Better Solution
By requesting and reading this report you are no doubt aware of the hazards associated with aerial lifts and the long list of regulations your company must abide by.
Meeting these regulations is a tedious process requiring you either develop a training program yourself or to outsource with expensive safety consultants.
There is a better solution.
Here at Safety Services we have developed a “Do-It-Yourself” training program that is both simple to administer and fulfills all your OSHA requirements.
This innovative kit features an Interactive Training Program, Student’s Handbook, Instructor’s Handbook, OSHA Regulations, Student Tests, Training Logs, Fall Protection Checklist, Certificates, Wallet Cards and More.
- OSHA requirements
- Safety decals and information
- And much more
Three simple steps to certification
Our $449.99 kit is a simple three-step solution that brings all your employees into compliance.
1. Classroom/online training
The first step of our program is an intuitive electronic training session. Through the program, employees navigate an electronic training program at a computer and then take an automatically graded test.
2. Field training
The second part of training is in the field. During this portion of the session, your appointed trainer shows the trainee the infield applications of the materials they learned in the classroom session.
The third step to the training session is evaluation. Through this step, the trainer evaluates the trainee and either signs off on certification or retouches on topics that need more work. All certification through the program meets OSHA requirements.
In addition to meeting training requirements, the kit provides instruction on how to craft your aerial lifts written policy. If you are not comfortable writing your own policy we can provide the service for an additional fee.
If you have a question or are ready to order give us a call at 1-888-840-9276.
This publication does not itself alter or determine compliance responsibilities, which are set forth in OSHA standards themselves and the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Moreover, because interpretations and enforcement policy may change over time, for additional guidance on OSHA compliance requirements, the reader should consult current and administrative interpretations and decisions by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and the Courts.