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 more extreme hot and cold weather.

OSHA Cold Weather Guidelines

OSHA states that workers must be given a worksite free from known hazards. This includes hazards due to winter weather and those that are likely to cause death or injury. To do this, OSHA cold weather guidelines focus on “plan, equip, train.”

Workers should be trained on the hazards of the job. They should be taught how to work safely. They should also have the gear to protect against cold temperatures.
OSHA cold weather training should include how to:

• Recognize the symptoms of cold stress
• Prevent cold stress injuries and illness
• Self-monitor for cold stress symptoms
• Monitor symptoms of other workers
• Apply first aid
• Call for medical help in an emergency
• Select proper clothing for cold, wet, and windy weather
• Recognize winter hazards such as icy roads, high winds, and downed power lines

OSHA cold weather guidelines also include using techniques to reduce the risk of cold stress. For example, using radiant heaters to warm outdoor worksites. Shielding work areas from wind and drafts to reduce wind chill. Applying de-icing materials to roofs and other slick surfaces.

To keep workers safe in cold weather, practice these OSHA cold weather safety tips:

• Provide workers with the proper tools and equipment
• Schedule maintenance and repair jobs for warmer months
• Schedule jobs for the warmer part of the day
• Limit exposure to very cold temperatures
• Provide warm areas during break periods
• Give workers warm liquids
• Keep an eye on workers who are at risk of cold stress
• Have a way to stay in touch with workers in remote job sites
• Dress for the cold
• Stay dry; have extra clothing in case you get wet

Unique Weather Considerations and Precautions for Aerial Lift Operators

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  • OSHA Cold Weather Regulations for Clothing

    • OSHA cold weather guidelines suggest workers wear 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

Workers should also adhere to these OSHA cold weather safety tips:

• Know the symptoms of cold stress
• Monitor your condition while on the job
• Keep an eye on other workers
• Dress for the cold
• Stay dry; have extra clothing in case you get wet

Other Weather that Directly Impacts Aerial Lift Worker

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.

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!


    How Aerial Lift Workers Can Stay Safe During Poor Weather

    Hurricanes Harvey and Irma left a vast amount of damage in their wake. They also left hundreds of people out of work, but many felt pressured to stay on the job. In fact, many stayed at work even as weather warnings sounded. Severe weather can often force work to be canceled. Yet, many lift workers perform their jobs in poor weather every day. These safety guidelines can help protect their lives:

    • Do not use aerial lifts in high winds above 20 miles per hour
    • Do not use aerial lifts when 20 MPH winds are closer than 30 minutes away
    • Do not use aerial lifts in temperatures under 10 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Do not use aerial lifts in icy weather, intense rain or snow
    • Set up aerial lifts on stable, even ground
    • Treat all power lines as live and stay at least 10 feet away


    Keep Your Workers Safe in Any Weather

    Aerial lift safety starts with using trained and certified workers. At, workers can get trained in about one hour. Our online courses comply with OSHA cold weather regulations. They can also be taken anywhere you can access an Internet hookup.

    Whether you’re an employer or a lift worker, training courses from will teach you how handle aerial lifts safely and prevent accidents. They will also make sure you comply with OSHA cold weather guidelines

    Look into our online courses today!

This post was originally published in 2017 and updated to include more safety tips in 2019.


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