The 5 Most Common Aerial Lift Accidents

aerial lift accidents









Due to the massive size and weight of an aerial lift, many factors affect their level of safety, or in many cases, danger. When a worker is not properly trained to operate an aerial lift, serious accidents are likely to occur. Accidents are also common with boom lifts and scissor lifts, leading to related injuries and fatalities every year. Boom lift accidents, included amongst aerial lift accidents, are some of the highest because of the incredible reach power and height of these machines. Scissor lift accidents are often caused by driving and positioning over uneven ground, or operating during severe weather, and can result in scissor lift tip over and scissor lift falls over accidents.

To demonstrate how dangerous aerial lifts, boom lifts, and scissor lifts can be when workers aren’t trained, we have listed the top five accidents that are most common with aerial lifts on work sites:

1    Electrocutions

Electrocutions occur when workers come into bodily contact with overhead power lines, or when the lift comes into contact with an overhead power line. In addition to aerial lifts, boom lift accidents caused by electrocution are common with this type of equipment because telescopic boom lifts are most often used to reach and service electrical systems. But that’s not all who’s at risk. Scissor lift operators can also be contracted to work near or under electrical power lines, and may be at risk of electrocution if they are not wearing the proper personal protection equipment, are not positioned on stable ground, or are involved in a scissor lift tip over and come into contact with electrical lines.

According to OSHA, non-electrical workers should stay at least ten feet away from a live power line, and should consider all power lines to be active. OSHA stresses that all workers working on or near live power lines should wear insulated hard hats, voltage-rated shoes, rubber gloves, rubber sleeves, and other protective clothing.

Aerial lift and scissor lift training can help workers avoid electrocutions because it teaches how to assess the surrounding area for any hazards including overhead live wires, how to avoid them, and the types of tools and equipment most helpful for preventing accidents, such as rubber sole boots, rubber gloves, and fall protection systems.

2    Falls from Aerial Lifts

Falls are most likely to occur when the worker, aerial lift, or scissor lift is hit by a vehicle, crane, or another object. Workers should make sure that fall protection measures are in place. That includes all cables and harnesses are attached to the lift before operating. While operating, workers need to ensure the access gates are closed, the body harness or restraining belt is attached to the boom or bucket with a lanyard, and that they are standing firmly on the floor of the bucket, and never lean on or climb over the guard rails.

Although falls from aerial lifts and boom lifts are common due to the height in which operators work, scissor lift falls over can happen when positioned on uneven ground or used during rough weather such as wind and they become unstable. But unlike aerial lifts, fall protection is not required when working with scissor lifts. This means that a worker may not be wearing a harness attached to a lanyard when something causes the scissor lift to become unstable. When a scissor lift falls over, or a worker falls from the scissor lift, it is often caused by objects coming into contact with the lift, like other vehicles. Ejections from scissor lifts often lead to serious injuries and death, and can be prevented with comprehensive scissor lift safety training.

Look into aerial lift and scissor lift training to prevent aerial lift and scissor lift falls over and reduce the number of accidents on your worksite.

3    Aerial Lift Tip-Overs

Tip-overs most often occur when the bucket cable or boom breaks, when the bucket falls, or when the scissor lift falls over. However, they are considered one of the top causes for both boom lift accidents and scissor lift accidents. According to OSHA, workers need to avoid positioning the aerial lift between overhead hazards, exceeding the load capacity limits, traveling to a job site with an elevated lift, and avoid positioning the lift on uneven terrain and raising the platform in windy conditions.

Scissor lift tip over accidents are often the result of operating in poor weather like high winds, that can cause the lift to sway and fall over. They are also the result of positioning the lift over uneven ground like slopes, potholes, and other obstructions, as well as positioning the lift too close to moving objects like motor vehicles and other utility vehicles.

Aerial lift and scissor lift tip over occurrences can be avoided with the right kind of scissor lift and aerial lift training. It’s imperative for workers to know exactly how to assess the surrounding environment for hazards that can create unstable working conditions. Training can prevent scissor lift tip over accidents that are one of the most common causes of scissor-lift related injuries and fatalities.

4    Being Caught in Between the Lift and an Object

The majority of workers involved with this type of accident were caught between the edge of the bucket and another object, like a roof joist or beam, when they were repositioning the aerial lift bucket. Before operating, workers need to note the job site and the equipment to make sure there are no loose parts. If there are rotating or moving parts, make sure they are properly guarded, and be sure to avoid wearing loose clothing. Workers on the ground should remain at a safe distance from the load and avoid entering the loading area to prevent being involved in boom lift accidents.

When working with scissor lifts, operators can avoid getting caught in between the lift by staying clear from overhead hazards, like power lines and structural objects like piping and ceilings. Because scissor lifts are often used indoors, caught-between accidents are one of the top causes of injuries and deaths for scissor lift operators. On-foot workers can get crushed when a scissor lift falls over, and should keep a safe distance from the work area, especially if the scissor lift is outdoors and working on uneven ground.

Aerial lift certification with a reputable company like prepares workers in how to recognize and prevent all boom lift accidents. Students learn how aerial lift accidents happen that involve employees being caught in between the lift and an object, and how those accidents are avoided.

Scissor lift training teaches workers how to avoid getting crushed by the scissor lift, and prevent getting crushed underneath overhead objects.

5    Being Struck by the Aerial Lift or Object

Collapsing materials injure and kill workers every year. This accident occurs when the operator isn’t aware of their surroundings and comes into contact with objects that come loose. All workers need to be informed of any unfinished building materials on a job site, so they know to avoid these structures or areas completely. Scissor lifts are used for many types of indoor maintenance work, and operators should be extra cautious when working in this type of environment to avoid materials from coming loose and hitting workers both on the platform and on the ground. Falling materials that are large in size can also cause scissor lift tip over accidents, so training that teaches how to work safely with scissor lifts indoors for construction and maintenance work is essential.

Aerial lift certification and scissor lift training with a reputable company like prepares workers in how to recognize and prevent all boom lift accidents. Students learn how aerial lift and scissor lift accidents happen that involve employees being caught in between the lift and an object, and how those accidents are avoided.

How Can Training Help Prevent Accidents?

The most common cause of accidents across the board for aerial lifts, boom lifts, and scissor lifts is operator error. This means that the operator of the machine made a mistake, used a wrong technique, wasn’t aware of a hazard, or wasn’t being careful enough and caused an accident. While common, accidents caused by operator error are very serious because they can almost always be preventable with the right tools and training. When workers are properly educated and certified in how to operate a lift, inspect the equipment, assess the surrounding environment, and recognize and avoid hazards, they are much more capable of not only avoiding injuries and fatalities but preventing aerial lift and scissor lift tip over accidents and fatal falls from happening in the first place.

The prevention of accidents through proper aerial lift and scissor lift training is the best course of action for employers and workers, and can provide the following benefits:

  • Fewer injuries, fatalities, and damage to nearby structures and equipment
  • Fewer equipment repairs
  • Reduced insurance
  • Reduced liabilities
  • Decreased risk of OSHA fines
  • Increased productivity at work

If you’re an aerial lift worker, boom lift, or scissor lift worker and you want to know how to identify and avoid boom lift accidents and scissor lift accidents, check out We offer an online program that only takes about one hour to complete, is 100% compliant with OSHA standards, and only costs $75.

The Aerial Lift and Scissor Lift Training course teaches about the different types of aerial lifts and scissor lifts, including articulating boom lifts, telescopic boom lifts, cherry pickers, telehandlers, scissor lifts, and rough terrain scissor lifts. Operators will feel ready to operate any one of these types of material handling equipment, and will have the OSHA-compliant certification to prove it.

With a 100% OSHA approval rating and free lifetime renewal training, the aerial lift and scissor lift training from CMO is your solution for protection against lift-related injuries and fatalities, like falls from aerial lifts, scissor lift tip over, and scissor lift falls over accidents.

Create an account and receive your aerial lift and scissor lift certification today!

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