How to Prevent Aerial Lift Accidents

learn aerial lift safety to prevent aerial lift accidents

Aerial lift accidents occur every year, with the top causes being electrocutions, falls from heights, tip-overs/collapses, and ejections from the lift. But, the truth is that most are preventable. In many ways, avoiding aerial lift, aerial work platform (AWP) and scissor lift accidents is simply a matter of common sense. If it doesn’t seem right or safe, well…you probably shouldn’t do it.

Then again, many of today’s machines are built for superior performance. Many things that couldn’t happen before – massive heights, quickly-rising loads, heavy machinery capability – are mere afterthoughts today. Aerial lift hazards are more present today than ever, and knowing the right safety protocols for preventing accidents is essential to protecting lives.

san diego aerial lift certification

Want to Avoid Boom Lift Accidents? Safety First, Safety Always

It can be difficult to strike the balance between safe work practices and getting the job done on time. Many workers feel pressured to speed up their tasks to make their employers happy, but the truth is that employers won’t be very pleased when unsafe practices cause aerial lift accidents or costly equipment damage!

OSHA has a helpful fact sheet on what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to properly operating aerial lifts. What’s noteworthy about their data is that it aligns with something has been stressing for years – nothing trumps a properly trained, OSHA-compliant worker.  In fact, OSHA states that only trained workers can operate aerial lifts.

According to OSHA, aerial lift training must include:

– The explanations of electrical, fall, and falling object hazards

– The procedures for dealing with hazards

– How to recognize and avoid aerial lift hazards in the workplace

– Instructions for the correct operation of the aerial lift, which should include the documentation of the maximum intended load and load capacity

– Demonstrations of the skills and knowledge needed to operate an aerial lift

– How and when to perform equipment inspections

– All manufacturer’s requirements

Properly trained operators are the best way to prevent aerial lift accidents in the workplace, reduce the risk of fines from OSHA, and prevent expensive damage to your equipment and worksite. The top accidents involving aerial lifts cannot be prevented if workers do not know the proper methods for operating the lift, traveling with the lift, loading the lift, and stabilizing the lift. Look into a training program, like the ones offered at, and protect your workplace.

A Closer Look at Aerial Lift Accident Statistics

Thousands of aerial lift accidents occur annually, particularly in the construction sector. Research indicates electrocutions, falls, and tip-overs are among the leading causes of aerial lift fatalities in the construction industry. Boom lifts account for the majority of aerial lift fatalities in this sector, and construction workers are also susceptible to scissor lift fatalities.

Aerial lift accidents can cause big problems, but they may be prevented. If aerial lift operators prioritize safety, they can take the proper measures to keep themselves and others safe.

Don’t Be Like These Guys — Avoid Aerial Lift-Related Injuries and Deaths

The majority of aerial lift accidents are caused by untrained operators and aerial lift hazards they aren’t prepared for. That means that many are preventable, even the ones that have caused serious injuries and fatalities.

Let’s review a few past aerial lift accidents to see what might have gone wrong and how they could have been prevented:

1. Employee Falls Out of Aerial Lift and Dies

On March 3, 2020, an aerial lift operator was using an aerial lift to remove static wicks from the back of an airplane. The lift’s boom broke, which caused the platform to fall approximately 17 ft. The accident caused the aerial lift operator to fall directly onto concrete, resulting in the operator’s death.

2. Employee Suffers Fatal Injuries from Aerial Lift Accident

An aerial lift accident that occurred Feb. 15, 2020 caused fatal injuries for the lift operator. The accident happened while the operator was working from an aerial lift basket to remove bridge column formwork. The operator attempted to step out of the lift and onto a plywood platform, but the operator did not have a lifeline connected to an anchor point. When the plywood platform’s surface shifted, the operator fell 30 ft. The operator suffered a punctured lung and other injuries and later died as a result of these injuries.

3. Employee Pinned Between an Aerial Lift and a Metal Rack

An accident that took place Feb. 13, 2020 caused a lift operator to get stuck between a lift and a metal rack. The operator positioned the lift beneath a light fixture but inadvertently was pinned between the lift and a metal rack. This operator was crushed and killed during the accident.

Tips to Prevent Aerial Lift Accidents

Some of the best things that aerial lift operators can do to prevent accidents include:

– Avoid leaning on a lift’s guardrails

– Leverage fall protection equipment

– Keep an eye out for power lines and other overhead dangers

– Use a lift exclusively on stable surfaces

– Avoid exceeding a lift’s weight capacity

A safety training program teaches aerial lift operators about myriad dangers and how to mitigate these issues, too.

Aerial Platform Safety: How to Avoid Aerial Lift Hazards and Prevent Aerial Lift Accidents

These accidents are tragic. If you want to prevent aerial lift accidents, keep these factors and aerial lift hazards in mind, in addition to ensuring all workers have completed an OSHA-compliant aerial lift certification:

Power Lines

One of the most hazardous elements of an aerial lift operator’s day, power lines are the cause of many workplace injuries and fatalities. OSHA advises that all employees working near power lines consider all lines as live, position themselves at least ten feet away from all wires, and wear protective clothing.


Fall protection is one of the top violations cited for aerial lifts, and harnesses are a big part of proper fall protection. The best way to prevent aerial lift accidents from falls is to not fall in the first place. Safety harnessing ensures comprehensive safety in a variety of work situations.

Lift Maintenance

A malfunctioning or improperly cared for component of a lift is an inexcusable aerial lift hazard. Low oil, leaky fluids, low tire pressure and other maintenance related issues can make an aerial lift unsafe. Keep up with your maintenance, and you’re halfway to a safer aerial lift, along with the daily pre-start inspections operators are trained to carry out.

Max Load Capacity

Unstable loads and falling objects hitting workers are two of the top causes of aerial lift accidents. When a lift is carrying a load that exceeds the load capacity, the weight capacity, and is larger than the size of the platform, it can potentially cause objects to fall from the lift, as well as tip-overs and collapses. Ensure you’re aware of your manufacturer’s suggested load weight. Don’t exceed it, and you’ll avoid tip-overs.

Other OSHA resources describe the best methods for safe AWP operation. These points are crucial for preventing aerial lift accidents, but prevention starts with one important thing: training.

Preventing Aerial Lift Accidents

Get Your OSHA-Compliant Aerial Lift Training from

Choosing the right training program for your aerial lift workers is the most important way to prevent aerial lift accidents. Our online course complies with all OSHA standards and regulations and teaches how to operate the different types of aerial lifts properly, how to assess the environment, and how to recognize and avoid aerial lift hazards.

We cover how to operate all types of aerial work platforms, including cherry pickers, telescopic boom lifts, articulating boom lifts, and scissor lifts.

To complete your safety profile, check out the complete line of training courses. From Train a Trainer programs to superior fall protection instruction, CMO is the online leader in OSHA scissor lift, AWP and aerial lift training.

With affordable prices, flexible course scheduling (always on your terms), and easy renewals, see why is the go-to option for companies all over the country.  In only about one hour from any device with an internet connection, operators can be trained and certified to drive aerial lifts and prevent aerial lift accidents.

To learn more, please contact us online or call our OSHA aerial lift specialists today at (602) 277-0615.

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