What is a Boom Truck and Who Needs One?

boom truck

Boom trucks are most often used on construction sites to move heavy items, such as concrete blocks, loads of boards, and other equipment. For many years, boom trucks, lifts, and cranes have been used to lift and lower heavy loads and reach otherwise inaccessible heights. Dating back to ancient Greece, lifting mechanisms and crane-like structures have helped people build multi-story buildings and amazing structures. One example is the Colosseum, which still stands today.

A boom lift or truck used in construction offers many advantages. Boom trucks, lifts, and cranes may be used to lift and lower heavy loads. Plus, they can help workers reach otherwise inaccessible heights.

The size of boom trucks varies in terms of boom and lifting capacity. For instance, some boom trucks are available that have a 60-ft. boom and offer a 14-ton capacity. Other boom trucks provide 185-ft. boom and 40-ton capacity, the biggest boom lift available today

With boom trucks, there is an inverse relationship between boom and lifting capacity; the further the boom extends, the lower the lifting capacity. Thus, it is important to consider a boom truck’s boom and lifting capacity before you use a truck at a job site. 

All boom truck operators must receive the necessary training and demonstrate their proficiency successfully for the necessary boom truck certification.

What Is a Boom Truck Used For?

Boom trucks and cranes may be used for similar tasks, such as lifting, hoisting, and elevating workers, so some people wonder how safe it is to combine the two. Although boom lifts and cranes may seem to be exactly the same, there are many differences between them. 

If you are uncertain about whether you need a boom truck or crane, you need to learn about the similarities and differences between the two. That way, you can find the right equipment to safely and efficiently perform your work task.

Which Boom Truck Is Right for You?

There are many factors to consider to identify the right boom truck for a jobsite, including:

Height: Determine how far the boom must be able to extend based on the work that must be performed.

Lift Capacity: Identify how much weight the truck must be able to handle.

Load Distance from Truck: Figure out how much distance loads will need to be placed from the truck.

Evaluating a variety of boom trucks can be beneficial, as this allows you to determine which truck is the ideal choice for your worksite. Regardless of which boom truck you select, it is paramount that employees have OSHA-compliant boom truck operator certification for safety and productivity.

How Are Boom Lifts and Boom Truck Cranes Similar?

Boom lifts and cranes are both used to perform industrial tasks across a variety of areas, including:

  • Construction
  • Maintenance
  • Painting
  • Electrical powerline work
  • Window glazing
  • Oil and gas
  • Commercial roofing
  • Utilities Municipal projects
  • Coil tubing

Clearly, there are some similarities between boom lifts and cranes, but each is designed to perform specific tasks.

What Is a Boom Truck Lift?

Boom lifts are used for lifting workers and their equipment to worksites at heights. They are used to help build and maintain structures, in addition to power line work, window washing, and tree care.

A boom lift may be used at construction sites, maintenance sites, and in both rural and urban areas for reaching power lines. If a height is unsafe for reaching with a ladder, a boom lift may be used as a substitute.

Boom lifts are used for many types of jobs, including any situation that requires safe and stable elevation of workers and materials. Some boom lifts can even extend hundreds of feet into the air.

Also, boom lifts are classified as vehicle-mounted devices used to lift people. The base of the boom lift rests on wheels or stabilizing “feet.” Workers are lifted and lowered while standing on a bucket platform attached to the boom lift’s arm. This is the base mechanism that allows this type of aerial lift to be used in construction and a variety of other industries.

Technically, boom trucks designed to lift personnel are still considered cranes, but they each are designed for specific tasks. Truck lifts, often called boom truck cranes, are most often found in one of two configurations:

Telescopic Boom Truck Crane 

A telescopic boom truck lift, often called straight booms, use a series of sections and the same mechanics you find in collapsible car antennas. Of course, telescopic booms are much larger, with some models able to reach 185 feet. The entire telescoping unit attaches to the chassis of the boom truck and folds down to a compact size for travel. 

These mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPs) are the best tool for when crews need to work at a significant height or reach an area from a distance. The telescopic boom is used extensively in all sorts of industries, from industrial maintenance and bridge repair to tree trimming and painting. 

Articulating Boom Truck Crane

Unlike the telescopic lift, an articulating boom truck crane is more about maneuverability and flexibility than reaching great heights. The jointed sections fold and unfold, making it easy to adjust the height and angle of the boom. 

Also known as a knuckle boom, the articulating boom is ideal for working in tight spaces and getting around obstacles. For applications that require frequent position changes and more precise handling,  the articulating crane is the obvious choice. 

What Is a Boom Truck Crane?

A boom truck crane, or a telescoping crane, uses high-boom angles and a hoist to lift loads. These cranes are designed for strength and stability and are typically used to lift heavy loads vertically. Employees who operate this equipment must be trained and obtain boom truck crane certification.

Boom truck cranes don’t have a bucket platform for holding workers, and they are used exclusively for lifting and moving extremely heavy loads. Unlike a boom lift, boom cranes use a series of chains, cables, pulleys, and concrete blocks to lift a crane arm and counteract its weight.

A boom crane is often used to lift and move building materials and heavy equipment like trucks and forklifts at construction sites. Specialty boom crane models can be used to move trains as well.

In addition, boom cranes are used to lift materials, equipment, and other objects. But unlike boom lifts, boom cranes are never used to move workers.

Can a Boom Lift Be Used As a Crane?

Boom lifts and cranes are made for different jobs, and therefore, not designed to perform the same tasks. A boom lift does not have the same lifting and moving power as a crane, and a crane is unable to accommodate workers. When operating a boom lift or crane, a boom lift can be overloaded and damaged when used as a crane, potentially causing injuries or fatalities.

OSHA guidelines prohibit the use of boom lifts for cranes, and vice versa. So, when you use boom lifts, cranes, or other industrial equipment, consider the equipment’s purpose. Then, you can use the equipment for its intended purpose.

Boom Truck Operator Certification Needs

OSHA has standards in place for safe use of boom lifts and cranes. According to OSHA, workers need to be trained to operate boom lifts and aerial lifts. Boom lift and crane safety training must cover how to avoid myriad hazards, such as:

  • Falls
  • Falling objects
  • Ejections
  • Electrocutions
  • Structural failures
  • Entanglement

Workers can receive training with an online certification course, which is provided by CertifyMe.net. They also need to pass a hands-on certification test, which is conducted by a certified trainer. You can train an employee to be a trainer with the Train the Trainer course from CertifyMe.

Consequences of Not Certifying Employees to Operate Boom Trucks

If your business does not comply with OSHA’s boom lift and crane safety standards, it exposes operators to workplace safety risks. Your business could face fines and penalties if OSHA discovers that you are knowingly violating its standards. Furthermore, there is a risk that on-the-job accidents, injuries, or fatalities could occur due to your business’ inability to comply with OSHA requirements.

If you plan to use a boom lift or crane, invest in boom lift training to learn how to use your equipment safely. With this training, you can provide your workers with the insights they need to operate a boom lift or crane without putting themselves or others in danger.

Companies are audited by OSHA and fined for not having the correct boom truck operator certification. A survey conducted by CertifyMe showed that out of 100 participants, 85 had been fined by OSHA and of those, 57 were for more than $100,000.

Get Boom Truck Operator Certification with CMO!

Whether your project calls for a telescoping boom lift or a boom truck crane, equipment certification is mandatory. If you allow employees to operate elevated work platforms without the proper safety training and certification, you could be on the hook for accidents, OSHA fines, and more. 

There’s no reason left to not get them certified when we can help you get it done in hours — complete with a printable OSHA certification. Sign up today for the fastest way to certify your employees or find out more when you call us at (602) 277-0615.

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