5 Most Popular Aerial Work Platforms

CMO - 5 types of aerial work platforms

It’s time to get to higher ground with an aerial lift — you just need to learn about the different types of aerial work platforms (AWPs) at your disposal. Whether it’s washing windows or rescuing lives from buildings, aerial lifts are used for a variety of reasons. With the right aerial platform, workers can perform myriad tasks at heights.

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What Is an Aerial Work Platform?

AWPs provide alternatives to scaffolding and ladders and allow workers to complete tasks at heights. Common AWP applications include:

  • • Construction and building maintenance
  • • Window washing/repair
  • • Electrical line repair
  • • Tree care
  • • Sporting events

Proper safety precautions must be taken before using an AWP. For instance, workers must wear a body harness and other fall protection any time they use an AWP. They must also keep AWPs away from overhead wires or any other worksite dangers.

Workers must become OSHA-certified AWP operators before they can legally use an AWP. This ensures that employees have received sufficient training to verify they know how to safely operate an AWP.

Aerial Work Platform Options

Aerial work platforms come in a wide range of sizes. From a soaring aerial platform used for maintenance and construction to a lower elevated work platform, many aerial platforms are available.

Ultimately, you need to select an aerial work platform that allows you to perform a specific task, as quickly and efficiently as possible. To help you find the right aerial platform for the task at hand, let’s examine five of the most popular options:


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1. Boom Lift

Also referred to as “the spider,” a boom lift has four legs and a bucket on the end. It is mounted directly to a vehicle and includes durable tires, which make it a great option on uneven terrain.

The spider consists of a boom lift that has a bucket at the end of the boom where workers stand to access a work area. It was originally designed for orchards and allowed workers to easily pick fruit that was high up in trees. Nowadays, the lift is frequently used for overhead line maintenance, sprucing up tall trees, and even assisting firefighters in areas that are difficult to access.

Aerial work platforms like the spider must be maintained and operated correctly. Thanks to aerial lift safety training, workers can learn the ins and outs of an aerial platform — and how to avoid endangering themselves or others when they use it.

2. Articulated Boom Lift

An articulated boom lift, sometimes called a “knuckle lift,” has an extended arm that lets workers reach up and over various obstacles. The boom lift also has a turntable at the base which allows the lift to swivel in a full circle. It is often used for maintenance work and other tasks where access is limited.

Unlike a scissor lift, an articulated boom lift can be used for building repair jobs, including piping. An articulated boom lift can also be used on uneven terrain.

Workers can undergo articulated boom lift training as part of an aerial platform safety program. That way, workers can learn how to safely use an articulated boom lift during maintenance and building repair jobs.

3. Telescopic Boom Lift

For workers who require maximum reach at heights, a telescopic boom lift is ideal. This type of AWP is a terrific option for window washers, electricians, and other workers who need to access areas that are directly above or parallel to them.

Unlike traditional aerial platforms, telescopic boom lifts can be used to access areas that are straight above or at a direct angle. With a telescopic boom lift, a work platform is mounted on a straight, long arm that sits on a movable turntable.

Before workers begin using a telescopic boom lift, they must complete a safety training program. Telescopic boom lift safety is a key tenet of worker training for elevated work platforms, and a safety training program teaches workers how to minimize risk when they use this type of aerial platform.

4. Scissor Lift

A scissor lift is frequently used for indoor work. The lift has a set of supports in a crisscross pattern and offers limited reach in comparison to telescopic and articulated boom lifts.

Typically, scissor lifts only move vertically. A scissor lift’s upward motion is achieved by the application of pressure to the outside of its lowest set of supports, elongating the crossing pattern, and propelling the work platform vertically.

Scissor lifts are commonly used for basic maintenance work and painting. Rough terrain scissor lifts are also available for outdoor work on uneven terrain.

Meanwhile, scissor lift safety training is available. With this training, workers can learn how to safely move a scissor lift up and down, operate the lift on rough terrain, and more.

5. Aerial Platform

An aerial platform resembles a cherry picker and serves as a vehicle-mounted, boom-supported aerial platform. Workers can use an aerial platform at outdoor jobsites to reach utility lines, trees, and more.

If you are considering an AWP, you should evaluate the aforementioned options closely. This will help you identify the right AWP for your worksite, and ultimately, enable you to maximize the return on your platform investment.

Regardless of which AWP you use, you need to safely operate the platform. Thanks to AWP safety training, workers of all skill and experience levels can become certified lift operators.

Types of Aerial Lifts

Aerial lift can be a blanket term used to describe boom lifts and scissor lifts. However, it is important to note that aerial lifts were originally designed to drive to outdoor jobsites to access electrical lines, trees, and other outdoor objects.

Common types of aerial lifts include:

✓ Personnel Lifts

Also referred to as “people lifts,” personnel lifts function as mechanical ladders. They offer greater stability over traditional ladders and reach heights approaching 50 ft.

✓ Towable Boom Lifts

Towable boom lifts are lightweight and portable. They are frequently used at yards, gyms, and other light industrial worksites.

Scissor Lifts

Scissor lifts are capable of reaching heights of 60 ft. They are ideal for workers who must paint buildings, wash windows, install HVAC systems, and perform other overhead tasks.

By completing an aerial platform training program, workers can gain the insights they need to use an aerial lift without disruption. They can also become more productive and efficient when they use an aerial lift, as well as take elevated work platform precautions to help make a jobsite safe.

Types of Construction Lifts

Along with aerial lifts, construction lifts are available. Common construction lifts include:

√ Bucket Trucks

A bucket truck features a boom that is mounted to the vehicle and a bucket at the end of the boom. It is often used by utility workers who need to reach transmission lines. Along with utility workers, bucket trucks may be utilized by landscapers and pruners who need to trim tall trees.

√ Articulated Boom Lifts

Knuckle lifts are useful for construction workers who need a work platform that allows them to reach around obstacles. For example, if a construction worker needs to repair exterior piping, an articulated boom lift will make it easy to access tough-to-reach spots around the piping. This type of lift is also ideal for construction workers who need to perform work on uneven terrain.

√ Telescoping Boom Lifts

For construction workers who need to complete work at a maximum height, they should consider a telescoping boom lift. This type of lift has an extendable arm and a rotating turntable that allows a single construction worker to complete tasks at high elevations. A telescoping boom lift is often a great choice for electrical repairs, maintenance tasks, and other work performed at extreme heights.

Elevated Work Platforms: Which One Is Right for You?

The right aerial work platform varies based on your application. So, you need to consider the task at hand, what you hope to accomplish, and which elevated work platform can help you complete your job safely and efficiently.

You need to look beyond the financial cost of elevated work platforms, too. An aerial platform may require a significant upfront investment, but you also need to consider workplace safety. If you invest in safety training for aerial work platforms, workers can learn how to properly use an aerial platform. Plus, workers can learn how to comply with aerial lift safety requirements.

Why Is Compliance Important for Aerial Work Platform Safety?

Safety is a priority with aerial lifts. OSHA states that the major causes of aerial lift fatalities are falls, electrocutions, collapses, and tip-overs, and employers must take measures to ensure the safe use of aerial lifts by workers who are required to use this equipment.

Compliance is paramount, particularly when it comes to aerial lift platform safety. Failure to comply with workplace safety requirements puts the health and wellbeing of workers in danger, as well as exposes a company to potential fines and penalties. Thankfully, aerial platform safety training is available to companies across the United States, and it teaches workers everything they need to know about how to properly operate an aerial lift.

If you allocate the necessary time and resources to learn about aerial platform safety, you can limit the risk of workplace accidents that put yourself and others in danger. You can also use your knowledge of aerial platform safety to foster a workplace culture that prioritizes safety. As a result, you, your peers, and your superiors can benefit from a work environment where safety comes first.aerial lift certification

Want to Teach Your Workers How to Use an Elevated Work Platform? Enroll Them in Safety Training Today

Certification is mandatory for all workers who use an AWP. Failure to complete an elevated work platform safety training program can lead to OSHA compliance violations and fines. It can also result in lift accidents and injuries.

CertifyMeOnline.net offers an extensive AWP safety training program that takes the guesswork out of becoming an OSHA-compliant lift operator. Our program is easily accessible and can be completed in a matter of hours. It allows workers to immediately earn their OSHA certification and ensure they can safely use a lift at any worksite.

We are happy to provide you with additional information about our OSHA-compliant AWP safety training program. To learn more or to sign up your workers for our training program, please contact us online or call us today at (602) 277-0615.

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