Monthly Archives: December 2017

Why It Is Safer to Use an Aerial Lift Over a Ladder

CMO - aerial lifts vs. ladders

Which is safer: an aerial lift or a ladder? At first glance, a ladder may appear to be the safer option. When you weigh the pros and cons of both options, however, you may quickly discover why an aerial lift can be safer than a ladder.

If you are considering an aerial lift or a ladder for work at heights, you should closely evaluate both options. Then, you can make an informed decision about whether an aerial lift or a ladder is the best choice.

Aerial Lifts vs. Ladders: What You Need to Know

OSHA defines an aerial lift as a vehicle-mounted device used to elevate workers. An aerial lift is constructed from metal, fiberglass-reinforced plastic, or other heavy-duty materials and can be manually operated or powered.

There are several types of aerial lifts, including:

✓ Articulating boom platforms

✓  Extendable boom platforms

✓  Vertical towers

Comparatively, a ladder is a structure that consists of a series of bars or steps. A ladder consists of metal, rope, or wood, and workers can climb up or down it as they perform tasks at heights.san diego aerial lift certification

Ladder and Aerial Lift Safety

Regardless of whether workers use ladders or aerial lifts, safety is key. When using a ladder or an aerial lift, a worker is completing tasks at elevation. In this instance, the worker needs to take proper safety precautions — otherwise, the worker could fall, resulting in injury or death.

OSHA offers guidelines that employers must implement to ensure that employees can safely perform work at heights. As an employer, it is your responsibility to follow these guidelines and teach personnel about them. You must also provide training to educate your workers about unsafe ladder use and other safety topics.

What Are the Risks Associated with Unsafe Ladder Use?

If workers cannot safely use a ladder or aerial lift, they pose risks to themselves, their coworkers, and bystanders. Fortunately, with proper training, employees can learn how to properly use ladders and aerial lifts. These workers can then use what they have learned to create a safe work environment. Plus, they can help a business minimize the risk of on-the-job accidents, injuries, and fatalities and avoid OSHA penalties.

Ladder Hazards You Need to Know About

Common ladder hazards include:

  • – Ladder is cracked or damaged
  • – Ladder is placed a slippery surface or uneven terrain
  • – Ladder rungs are damaged or have mud or grease on them
  • – Employees carry heavy tools or materials up and down ladder
  • – Metal ladder is used near live electrical wires

Along with encountering ladder hazards, there are several mistakes that workers that can lead to ladder accidents and injuries, such as:

  • – Standing on a ladder’s top step of step ladders
  • – Using a ladder that is too small
  • – Failing to inspect a ladder before use; in this instance, workers may miss broken rungs or other ladder damage that can make it unsafe to use the ladder
  • – Using a ladder on loose or uneven ground
  • – Overreaching while on a ladder; this can cause a worker’s center of gravity to shift beyond the ladder’s side rails, resulting in a fall
  • – Ignoring three points of contact (two hands and one foot or one hand and two feet) when ascending or descending a ladder
  • – Failing to face the ladder when descending
  • – Skipping ladder rungs when descending

If workers ignore ladder safety, they risk falls that can result in accidents and injuries. They could also expose themselves to electricity, which could result in a fatal electrocution.

For workers who regularly use a ladder to complete tasks at heights, they must inspect the ladder before every use and position the ladder safely. These workers must follow ladder safety best practices to minimize the risk of falls and electrocutions, too.

In addition, workers must understand the importance of choosing between an aerial lift and a ladder relative to different applications. Since an aerial lift is generally a safer choice than a ladder, workers who can use a lift in lieu of a ladder can reduce their risk of falls and electrocutions at heights.

Why Use an Aerial Lift Over a Ladder?

There are several reasons to use an aerial lift over a ladder, including:

1. Stability

Aerial lifts weigh more than ladders, and as such, offer greater stability on a wide range of terrain. They are made from metal or reinforced fiberglass and feature a sturdy base that carries the weight of the extendable boom arm or platform with strength and durability.

2. Capacity

Aerial lifts can handle more weight than ladders. Industrial ladders can hold up to 300 lbs., while many aerial lifts can hold as much as 1,000 lbs.. In fact, aerial lifts are made for withstanding the weight of workers as well as their equipment and tools.

3. Mobility

Many types of aerial lifts are available, and they offer immense mobility in comparison to ladders.

Workers on ladders need to constantly climb up and down and disassemble and reassemble their ladders. The constant movement can cause operator fatigue and increase the risk of falls and severe injuries.

Meanwhile, aerial lifts can safely lower workers at heights, to the point where they can step off a lift platform, raise and lower the lift with the push of a button, and seamlessly move around a worksite.

4. Fall Protection

Even though ladders do not require fall protection equipment, falls are a very real hazard when working on them at heights, especially on ladders as tall as 40 ft.

With aerial lifts, body harnesses and lanyards are required and are easily attached to access points on the lift platform to prevent workers from falling and significantly reduce the number of injuries and fatalities on worksites.

5. Flexibility

Aerial lifts are more flexible than ladders, especially when it comes to getting into the right position for working at heights. Lifts can be placed directly underneath or an optimal position for accessing a work area and can be raised to the exact working height needed.

On the other hand, if a ladder is too short, workers may be tempted to stand on the top rungs or overstretch to reach a work area. Or, if a ladder is too tall, it may be set up against a wall and can slip out from underneath a worker.

6. Reach

Ladders offer less reach than aerial lifts. So, ladders cannot meet the needs of workers who need to conduct repair power lines, wash windows, repair buildings, or perform other tasks at heights. In these instances, workers can use aerial lifts to safely perform tasks at high elevations, without sacrificing safety.

7. Value

Since aerial lifts are safer than ladders, they can help businesses lower the costs associated with falls and other accidents and injuries that take place at heights.

When it comes to deciding between an aerial lift and a ladder, the choice is clear: a lift is the best option. However, if you use an aerial lift, you must educate workers about lift safety. That way, workers can take the necessary precautions and use a lift safely.

Aerial Lift Safety Tips

To properly use an aerial lift, workers should:

  • Inspect the lift to ensure it is working correctly before they use it.
  • Conduct a work zone inspection to identify and address any risks before they use the lift.
  • Avoid overloading the lift.
  • Leverage fall protection equipment.
  • Beware overhead objects.

It is crucial for workers to complete an aerial lift safety training program as well. In doing so, workers can receive comprehensive insights into aerial lift safety dangers and guard against them.

san diego aerial lift certification

Offer Aerial Lift Safety Training to Your Workers

Now that you know about the benefits of using aerial lifts in lieu of ladders, you should enroll your workers in an aerial lift safety training program. Thanks to this program, your workers can become OSHA-certified aerial lift operators. offers an extensive aerial lift safety training program that lets your workers become OSHA-compliant lift operators right away. Our program provides fast, seamless access to a variety of learning materials. It also ensures your workers can earn their OSHA aerial lift safety certification at their convenience.

We are happy to provide additional details about our aerial lift safety training program. To learn more, please contact us online or call us today at (602) 227-0615.

How Climate Can Affect Aerial Lift Operators (with Infographic)

climate affects aerial lift workers

Working on an aerial lift is tough enough during good weather. But, climate changes, intense storms, and extreme weather have made these jobs much harder. As climate change reshapes our planet, lift workers must now learn how to work safely in extreme temperatures.

OSHA Cold Weather Guidelines

OSHA states that businesses must provide worksites that are free of known hazards. This includes cold weather hazards that can cause death or injury.

Cold weather puts aerial lift operators at risk of hypothermia, frostbite, and other health problems, according to OSHA. As such, businesses must do their part to protect aerial lift workers against cold weather dangers.

OSHA points out that workers must be able to identify the warning signs of health issues caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, such as:

  • Shivering
  • Slurred speech
  • Careless movement

Educating workers about OSHA cold weather guidelines is important. With proper training, workers can learn about a wide range of cold weather dangers and prepare accordingly.

aerial lift certification

OSHA Cold Weather Safety

In addition, OSHA provides several tips to help businesses protect aerial lift workers against cold weather health dangers, such as:

  • • Encourage workers to wear hats, gloves, and other warm clothing and accessories
  • • Schedule workers to complete tasks outdoors during the warmest part of the day
  • • Let employees work in pairs to limit each worker’s time outdoors
  • • Schedule maintenance and repair jobs for warm months
  • • Schedule jobs for warm parts of the day
  • • Limit exposure to extremely cold temperatures
  • • Provide warm areas where workers can take breaks throughout the day
  • • Offer coffee, tea, and other warm liquids to workers

Keep employees up to date about cold weather dangers as well. In doing so, workers will be well-equipped to watch for cold weather dangers and protect themselves and others against them.

Unique Weather Considerations and Precautions for Aerial Lift Operators

how weather affects aerial lift operators

Click image to enlarge

Share this Image On Your Site

OSHA Cold Weather Regulations for Clothing

OSHA recommends workers wear the following clothing and accessories in cold temperatures:

  • – At least three layers of loose clothing:
    • √ An inner layer to keep moisture away from the body
    • √ A middle layer to provide insulation even when wet
    • √ An outer layer to keep out wind and rain
  • – A knit mask to cover face and mouth (if needed)
  • – A hat to cover the ears
  • – Insulated gloves
  • – Insulated and waterproof boots

Safety is paramount, particularly when it comes to working in cold temperatures. Workers should wear sufficient clothing and accessories to ensure they can protect their hands, feet, and other body parts against prolonged exposure to frigid weather. They should also notify their manager any time they feel cold temperatures are affecting their ability to work safely.

OSHA Rain Regulations

There are no specific guidelines from OSHA regarding letting aerial lift workers complete tasks in the rain. However, employers are always responsible for maintaining safe, healthy work environments. If a worker believes a rainy work environment is unsafe, he or she has the right to refuse dangerous work.

When it comes to rain or any other inclement weather conditions, it is always better to err on the side of caution. Harsh weather conditions should not hamper a worker’s ability to safely complete tasks outdoors. Otherwise, if workers are forced to work in poor weather conditions, they could put themselves or others at risk of accidents or injuries.

OSHA Hot Weather Safety

Hot weather can be problematic, and businesses must plan for letting their employees work outdoors in warm temperatures.

OSHA encourages businesses to use the “heat index” to protect outdoor workers in hot weather. The index accounts for humidity and temperature and how they affect the safety of outdoor workers. By studying this index, an employer can take appropriate measures to safeguard its outdoor workers against heat-related illnesses.

How Inclement Weather Conditions Can Put Aerial Lift Workers in Danger

Aerial lifts can be risky in high winds or weather that impairs workers’ vision. Once in the air, aerial and scissor lifts can become unstable and tip over. There are limits to the type of weather aerial lifts can work in. The #1 goal is always to keep workers away from harm.

Severe weather can make it unsafe for workers to work or travel. At those times, some employers grant workers paid “climate leave”. This is a good practice for outdoor workers who deal with heavy equipment and fall hazards. According to OSHA cold weather guidelines, workers can’t be forced to man their jobs in unsafe weather. To do so goes against OSHA cold weather regulations. It also puts workers’ lives at risk.

Tips to Protect Aerial Lift Workers in Severe Weather Conditions

Here are tips to help aerial lift workers stay safe in various severe weather conditions:

How to protect against:

✓ Strong winds. Aerial lift workers should use extreme caution when winds get too severe. Or they should stop working until the winds die down.

✓ Slippery surfaces. Snow, sleet, rain, ice – you name it and Mother Nature can create slippery ground in no time. Always ensure your base is stable before going up in a lift.

✓ Hot and sticky temperatures. Don’t operate an aerial lift when it is 90 degrees or hotter. Extreme temps can cause loss of focus on the job. That spells doom when you’re up in an aerial lift! Heat exhaustion is a major concern for lift workers in hot, humid weather. When the temps start to climb, keep a water supply within reach.

✓ Severe weather patterns. Storms, hurricanes, and other severe weather systems are major hazards for lift workers. If bad weather is expected, get clearance from your safety supervisor before starting a job. The last thing you need is to be 100 feet up in the air when lightning and thunder strike!

Businesses can help their aerial lift workers guard against weather-related dangers, too. In fact, businesses can restrict aerial lift operation at jobsites where there are:

  • • Winds above 20 MPH
  • • 20 MPH winds are less than 30 minutes away.
  • • Temperatures under 10°F degrees
  • • Icy weather and/or intense rain or snow

Furthermore, businesses must teach their workers to set up aerial lifts on stable ground, regardless of weather. They must require all workers to treat power lines as live and stay at least 10 ft. away from them.

Ongoing training is crucial for aerial lift operators as well. This training keeps workers up to date about weather-related jobsite dangers. It also gives workers opportunities to share their concerns and questions about working in severe weather conditions. That way, aerial lift operators can use the training to get the help they need to avoid weather-related accidents. At the same time, businesses can do their part to protect their aerial lift operators against severe weather conditions.

aerial lift certification

Help Aerial Lift Operators Work Safely in Different Climates

Businesses are responsible for providing their workers with safe and healthy work environments.  Failure to do so puts employees in danger and can lead to OSHA penalties and fines.

If your business employs aerial lift operators, you should provide training that teaches them how to safely perform tasks in various weather conditions. offers an aerial lift training program that teaches workers about all aspects of lift safety. Upon completion, workers can earn aerial lift safety training certification that verifies they know how to safely use a lift in myriad weather conditions. For more information about our program, please contact us online or call us today at (602) 277-0615.

This post was originally published in 2017 and updated to include more safety tips in February 2021.