How to Avoid an Aerial Lift Tip-Over

Have you ever wondered, “Can a scissor lift fall over?” The answer is yes. In fact, a man lift tip-over is one of the most common aerial lift accidents.

Aerial lift tip-overs are serious problems, but they can be prevented. Let’s look at aerial lift tip-overs in detail to understand why they happen and how to avoid them.

How Can a Scissor Lift Fall Over?

There are many reasons why a man lift tip-over may occur, such as:

Prevent tip-overs

Untrained workers driving or operating the lift.

The lift is set up on uneven or soft terrain.

The work platform is raised onto a slope.

The wrong kind of lift is used for the job.

The lift has been moved while the work platform in the air.

Extreme wind or other inclement weather conditions.

The lift’s maximum load weight has been exceeded.

There is excessive pushing or pulling on the platform while it is in the air.

Workers are increasingly susceptible to a man lift tip-over if the work platform is raised above 15 ft. The higher a platform is raised, the more unstable the lift structure becomes. This increases wobbling caused by movement on the mobile elevating work platform (MEWP).

Also, adding weight to a man lift platform increases the risk that the lift will tip over. The extra weight acts as a force on the end of a lever, and extending the scissor lift increases the force, making the lift unstable.

Whether you’re an employer or an aerial lift worker, learning the causes of aerial lift tip-overs can help prevent these issues and create a safe and compliant jobsite for all workers.

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Hazards That Can Cause a Man Lift Tip-Over

Man lift operators should keep an eye out for the following hazards frequently linked to tip-overs:

Severe Weather Conditions: Strong winds and other inclement weather conditions can cause a load to become unbalanced in a man lift. If the load shifts too far in one direction, it can cause the lift to tip over.

Unstable Surface: Operating a man lift on dirt, sand, or other unstable surfaces increases the risk of a tip-over.

Bumps, Potholes, and Other Road Hazards: Driving a man lift on rough terrain puts an operator in danger of a tip-over.

Operators must be able to identify man lift tip-over hazards and take appropriate measures to avoid them.

How to Prevent a Man Lift Tip-Over

To avoid man lift tip-overs, training is essential. OSHA requires employers to provide training and certification for all types of aerial work platforms (AWPs) and MEWPs.

OSHA-approved training enables workers to gain the insights they need to protect themselves and others against man lift tip-overs. It also encourages workers to speak up about man lift tip-over safety issues and find ways to address them. That way, workers can boost workplace safety and productivity, as well as lower the risk of man lift tip-over accidents and injuries.

In addition, it is important to avoid exceeding a man lift’s weight limit. The maximum load capacity includes the weight of the workers, tools, and equipment used for the job. To find out a man lift’s weight limit, review the AWP or MEWP operating manual.

Unsafe man lift setup can also contribute to tip-overs. To improve safety, inspect the lift before job site setup, and look for missing parts, structural problems, or other issues that could cause a tip-over.

During man lift setup, you should:

  •  Inspect the jobsite for hazards before starting work.
  •  Avoid placing the lift on unstable or soft terrain, under overhead obstacles, or near power lines.
  •  Check the weather forecast for high winds or heavy rain.
  •  Ensure equipment loaded onto the platform does not exceed the lift’s max weight limit.
  •  Avoid using the lift to support other scaffolding.

When stabilizing the lift, set outriggers on pads or a level surface. Do not exceed the lift’s max slope rating, which is usually 5% or less, and use wheel chocks and brakes when setting up the lift on a slope.

Other man lift setup safety tips include:

  •  Use the correct stabilizers based on the lift
  •  Avoid moving or adjusting the stabilizers with a raised platform
  •  Load the weight onto the platform; the weight should be centered to maximize stability

For those who are uncertain about how to properly set up a man lift, seek assistance from a coworker or superior. Remember, a cautious approach to man lift setup limits the risk of a tip-over. It can also help workers get the job done, as quickly and safely as possible.

Operational, Moving, and Loading Safety Tips to Help Your Workers Avoid a Boom Lift Tip-Over

Unsafe work practices are can cause a boom lift-tip over, so workers should not:

Carry objects that are larger than the lift platform.

Drive with the lift raised (unless the lift is designed for this purpose).

Exceed the lift’s horizontal or vertical reach limits.

Override safety devices.

Operate the lift in poor weather.

Exceed the lift’s speed limits.

Operate the lift near debris, potholes, overhead wires, and cables.

Avoid horizontal work tasks that put too much strain on the lift.

Workplace safety should be evaluated regularly, and an employer should update its work practices as needed. This helps ensure that workers are consistently protected against boom lift tip-overs and other worksite dangers.

Employers should also note that despite their best efforts, a boom lift tip-over can happen without notice. This is why boom lift workers should always wear fall protection gear.

Fall Protection Tips for Boom Lift Workers

OSHA requires aerial lift workers and MEWP operators to wear full-body harnesses attached to lanyards. Connect the lanyards to the boom or basket. This helps prevent workers from being ejected from the bucket during an aerial lift tip over. Fall arrest gear helps minimize injuries by stopping a fall before workers hit the ground.

Every jobsite should also have written rules for when and how to use fall protection gear. Employee safety gear should be examined before every job; if the gear is damaged, it must be replaced.

Finally, once in the air, workers should never sit, stand, or climb on the guardrails. Workers should pay close attention to the task at hand and watch for potential dangers. In the event that a fall occurs, workers should seek help right away.

Best Practices to Avoid a Boom Lift Tip-Over

Here are best practices to help boom lift operators prevent tip-overs:

  • Keep the Work Area Clear: Ensure there is sufficient space between the area where a boom lift is used and all other equipment. Only authorized personnel should enter the work area.
  • Require Operators to Wear a Harness: Provide harnesses that must be worn any time a boom lift is being used. Teach operators how to securely fasten a lanyard to the lift’s bucket.
  • Operate a Boom Lift on Level Ground: Verify boom lifts are only used on stable ground. Also, set the boom lift brakes for additional stability.

A boom lift tip-over is a serious problem and must be treated accordingly. Teaching workers best practices to avoid boom lift tip-overs and other forklift safety dangers can help you avoid workplace accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

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Enroll in Workplace Safety Training to Reduce the Risk of Aerial Lift Tip-Overs

Workplace safety training plays a vital role in aerial lift tip-over prevention. By offering safety training, you can help your workers avoid aerial lift tip-overs and other on-the-job dangers now and in the future. offers an OSHA-compliant aerial lift safety training program for workers of all skill and experience levels. Our aerial lift safety program teaches workers how to comply with OSHA standards, use fall protection gear, and foster safe, productive work environments. To learn more or to enroll in our program, please contact us online or call us today at (602) 277-0615.

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