Which is better: an aerial lift or a ladder? To determine which one should be used, it is important to first define both an aerial lift and a ladder and the dangers associated with working at heights.
How Does an Aerial Lift Differ from a Ladder?
An aerial lift refers to any vehicle-mounted device that allows workers to complete tasks at heights. Aerial lift examples include:
√ Articulating boom platforms
√ Extendable boom platforms
√ Vertical towers
Comparatively, ladders are traditional tools that have been used for working at heights for decades. Modern advancements and increased industrial demands have pushed the envelope for what these tools can do safely, and have brought mechanical aerial lifts to the market.
Ladder and Aerial Lift Safety: What You Need to Know
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.
Why Are Aerial Lifts Safer Than Ladders?
There are many reasons to choose aerial lifts over ladders, including:
1. Aerial Lifts Are Built for Stability and Holding Weight
Aerial lifts 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. Workers do not depend on their own positioning skills to ensure the safety of an aerial lift, nor can their weight alone risk the stability of the lift.
While it is important for aerial lift operators to keep in mind weight limitations, it’s even more imperative for work on ladders, which can buckle at the slightest weight overload. Industrial ladders can hold up to 300 pounds while many aerial lifts can hold as much as 1,000 lbs. safely. In fact, aerial lifts are made for withstanding the weight of workers as well as their equipment and tools.
2. Aerial Lifts Offer Greater Mobility Than 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.
3. Aerial Lifts Can Accommodate Fall Protection Equipment
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.
4. Aerial Lifts Provide Are More Flexible Than Ladders
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.
Why Is Aerial Lift Operator Certification Important?
CertifyMeOnline.net offers a comprehensive training program designed to teach workers about aerial lift safety — and why aerial lifts are safer than ladders. Our training program educates workers about all aspects of aerial lift safety, so workers will understand why they should select an aerial lift over a ladder to complete tasks at heights. Our OSHA-compliant aerial lift training can also help workers stay safe, prevent accidents, and use equipment as efficiently as possible. To learn more or to enroll your workers in our aerial lift certification training program, please contact us online or call us today at (602) 277-0615.