The 5 Types of Aerial Work Platforms

CMO - 5 types of aerial work platforms

It’s time to get to higher ground with these aerial lifts. Whether it’s washing windows or rescuing lives from buildings, these lifts are commonly used for a variety of occasions. Aerial devices can be controlled to extend the lift in several different directions, which can often include “up and over” applications. However, there are a few types of aerial lifts that are designed to perform different tasks.

Aerial work platforms come in varied sizes, shapes, and functions. From soaring aerial platforms used for maintenance and construction to lower elevated work platforms, the kinds of different lifts available continue to grow.

If your company needs help with training and OSHA compliance for aerial work platforms or elevated work platforms, look no further than Our training courses are ideal for beginner operators, veteran elevated work platform users, and everyone in between!

Let’s take a look at some of the aerial platforms any operator should know about.


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The “Spider”

The boom lift, aka The Spider, is an aerial work platform often set up outside a building and resembles a spider with four legs. The elevated work platformresembles a cherry picker. Originally designed for orchards, it allows the individual to pick high up fruits with ease. Nowadays, it is frequently used for construction and to maintain overhead line, spruce up tall trees and even assist firefighters in areas that are difficult to access. The spider lift has a bucket at the end of the boom where workers stand to access the work area. Since it is mounted on a vehicle, it comes with durable tires and can be driven on uneven terrain.

Articulated Boom Lifts

An articulated boom lift, also known as a knuckle lift, has a work platform on an extended arm that can reach up and over obstacles, resembling your finger when you bend it. Articulated boom lifts have a turntable at the base which allows the lift to swivel in a full circle. This type of machine is used mainly for maintenance work and other tasks that are difficult to access. Unlike a scissor lift which can only extend directly above itself, articulated boom lifts are types of aerial lifts that can be used for repair jobs on the exterior of buildings, including piping. They provide convenience for hard-to-reach areas and can be used on uneven terrain.

Telescopic Boom Lifts

This type of elevated work platform is used for tasks that require maximum reach capabilities. A work platform is mounted on a straight, long arm that sits on a movable turntable. Unlike traditional aerial platforms, telescopic boom lifts can access areas that are straight above or at a direct angle. Electrical repair, window washing, and other maintenance jobs are the most common that employ the assistance of a telescopic boom lift or similar elevated work platform.

Scissor lift

One of the most preferred lifts, scissor lifts are a type of platform that can typically only move vertically. The upward motion is achieved by the application of pressure to the outside of the lowest set of supports, elongating the crossing pattern, and propelling the work platform vertically. The platform may also have an extending “bridge” to allow closer access to the work area, because of the inherent limits of vertical-only movement.

Scissor lifts are much more limited in use compared to the other types of aerial work platforms including articulated and telescopic boom lifts because they have to be situated directly underneath itself. They also cannot reach maximum heights. Therefore, they are best for indoor use like basic maintenance work and painting since the larger-sized bucket can accommodate multiple workers and equipment. There are rough terrain scissor lifts available to handle slightly uneven terrain when outdoor work is required.

Aerial lift

Resembling the cherry picker, the aerial lift is often a popular choice for getting to higher ground. According to OSHA, Aerial lifts are vehicle-mounted, boom-supported aerial platforms. These lifts are used to access utility lines and other above-ground job sites. While aerial lifts can be a blanket term used to describe boom lifts and scissor lifts, the original design of an aerial lift was used to drive to outdoor job sites to access electrical lines, trees, and more. Aerial lifts are usually controlled by the operator on the platform.

Aerial Work Platform Safety: Why Compliance is Important for Workplace Safety

Safety is also a huge priority with these lifts. OSHA states that the major causes of fatalities are falls, electrocutions, collapses, or tip-overs. Employers must take measures to ensure the safe use of aerial lifts by their workers if they are required to use this equipment. It doesn’t matter what type of aerial work platform your company uses – what matters is OSHA compliance, plain and simple. And has the training courses and evaluation tools to ensure your workplace is prepared for anything!

If you’re an aerial lift or aerial work platform worker, and you still need to complete your aerial lift certification, check out On our website, you can read more about the various types of aerial lifts, the dangers involved with operating, and how you can avoid hazards that lead to serious accidents.


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