How Climate Can Affect Aerial Lift Operators (with Infographic)

climate affects aerial lift workers

Aerial lift operators are busy building structures, maintaining buildings, and keeping our power running around the world. But climate changes, recent intense storms, and abnormal weather have made their jobs much harder and have called for even more preparation than they already put into their work.

OSHA regulations and employer policies change the way aerial lift workers can do their jobs, and the weather is just one constantly shifting part of that.

Weather Directly Impacts Aerial Lift Workers, Who Need to Adapt Accordingly

Aerial lifts can be dangerous in certain situations like high winds and blustery weather that impairs workers’ vision. When in the elevated position, aerial lifts and scissor lifts can become unstable and tip over when weather isn’t ideal for working at heights. There are limits to the type of poor weather aerial lifts can work in, to keep workers away from harm.

Serious weather has even convinced some employers to grant paid “climate leave” for employees during dangerous weather conditions that make it unsafe to travel for work. This is especially relevant for AWP operators who work outdoors and deal with heavy equipment and fall hazards. According to OSHA, it is an employer’s responsibility to ensure their employees aren’t forced into unsafe environments or imminent danger, like a storm or during severe weather for outdoor work. When employers dismiss bad weather and severe climates, they are in violation of OSHA regulations and are putting their workers’ lives at risk.

Unique Weather Considerations and Precautions for Aerial Lift Operators

how weather affects aerial lift operators

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  • – Strong winds. When you think weather, you probably think about temperature or precipitation. Strong breezes are an underrated part of the weather. Aerial lift operators should use extreme caution when winds get too severe – or stop their job temporarily.
  • – 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 an aerial lift.
  • – Hot and sticky temperatures. As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t operate an aerial lift or AWP when it’s too hot (over 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit). Extreme temps can cause loss of concentration – and that spells doom when you’re up in an aerial lift! Heat exhaustion is a major concern for aerial lift workers in hot, humid conditions. When the temps start to climb, keep a water supply within reach.
  • – Cold and icy temperatures. Just like hot temps, the other side of the thermometer isn’t an ideal place for aerial lift workers. When the temps fall to less than 10 degrees Fahrenheit, the severe cold can cause numbness, lapses in concentration, and even severe pain! Take a break and warm up!
  • – Severe weather patterns. Storms, hurricanes, and other severe weather systems are major hazards for aerial lift operators. If you’re working where bad weather is expected, get clearance from your safety supervisor before proceeding. The last thing you need is to be 100 feet up in the air when a thunderstorm strikes!

How Aerial Lift Operators Can Stay Safe During Poor Weather

Recent storms like hurricane Harvey and Irma left an incredible amount of damage in their wake. They also left hundreds of employees out of work or feeling pressured to stay at work even when weather warnings were sounding. While severe weather is a huge hazard for workers that forces employers to cancel work, many aerial lift operators work in poor weather every day.

Cable line workers, electrical power workers, utility workers, and construction and maintenance workers perform their tasks at great heights while managing work tools and their stability. The following safety protocols can protect their lives while working in any type of weather:

  • – Do not use aerial lifts in high winds above 20 miles per hour, or when 20 MPH winds are closer than 30 minutes away from the work site
    – Do not use aerial lifts in temperatures under 10 degrees Fahrenheit
    – Do not operate aerial lifts in icy weather or intense rain or snow
    – Position aerial lifts on stable, even ground
    – Treat all power lines as live and stay at least 10 feet away Trains Workers to Operate Aerial Lifts Safely and Prevent Accidents

Whether you’re an employer or an employee who wants to know their rights, the training courses from will teach you how to operate aerial lifts safely, prevent accidents, and remain OSHA-compliant at all times. Look into our affordable, online certifications today.

This post was originally published in 2017 and updated to include more safety tips in 2018.


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