Top Aerial Lift Safety Violations and How to Avoid Them

Does your business have what it takes to protect your aerial lift operators against on-the-job dangers? If not, you could face OSHA aerial lift safety violations.

Your business has aerial lift operators on staff — and you need to protect them. To do so, you must comply with OSHA aerial lift safety standards.

OSHA has safety standards for businesses that employ aerial lift operators. Compliance with OSHA standards is paramount. If you ignore these standards, you put your aerial lift operators and your business in danger.

With a clear understanding of OSHA standards, you provide your aerial lift operators with a safe, productive work environment. Plus, you can protect your operators against aerial lift accidents and avoid OSHA aerial lift safety violations.

What Are OSHA Aerial Lift Safety Violations?

OSHA enforces workplace safety across the United States. As part of its efforts, OSHA conducts periodic worksite inspections to identify any hazards. Or, an employee workplace safety complaint can trigger an OSHA worksite inspection.

For businesses that employ aerial lift operators, you are responsible for learning and complying with OSHA safety violations. You must also educate your operators about aerial lift safety and the different types of OSHA violations.

Types of Aerial Lift Safety Violations

If OSHA identifies a worksite safety issue, it will issue a violation. Types of OSHA violations include:

1. Willful

A willful violation is considered the most serious OSHA violation category. Businesses can receive willful violations if they ignore workers’ health and safety. For example, businesses that do not provide its aerial lift operators with sufficient guardrail systems or safety net systems can be subject to willful violations. OSHA can fine businesses up to 136,532 per willful violation.

2. Serious

OSHA can issue a serious violation to a business that is aware or should be aware of a situation that puts workers in danger but does not remedy it. Examples of serious violations include failure to teach aerial lift operators about fall hazards or provide adequate fall protection. In these instances, OSHA can fine businesses up to $13,653 for each serious violation.

3. Repeated

If OSHA cites a business for a violation but later finds the company does not correct the issue or a similar problem arises, it can issue a repeated violation. The maximum penalty of a repeated OSHA violation is $136,532.

4. Other-Than-Serious

Businesses can be subject to other-than-serious violations if OSHA determines an issue would not usually result in death or serious injury but still affects job safety or employee health. For instance, OSHA may issue an other-than-serious violation to a business that fails to provide copies of safety regulations or post required documentation in work areas. An other-than-serious OSHA violation can result in a fine up to $13,653. 

Now that you know about the different types of OSHA safety violations, let’s examine some of the top aerial lift safety violations.

What Are the Top Aerial Lift Safety Violations?

The top OSHA aerial lift safety violations include:

1. Fall Protection

OSHA requires fall protection for aerial lift operators — without exception. Business must provide a body belt and lanyard to operators that must be used as soon as they enter a lift. Meanwhile, operators must keep an eye out for potholes, curbs, and other worksite hazards that can cause a lift to tip over and lead to falls.

2. Scaffolding

Aerial lifts are considered scaffolding. To guard against scaffolding accidents and violations, businesses must provide their aerial lift operators with harnesses, cable and rope grabs, and other appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). For aerial lift operators, they must verify the load limits of scaffolding materials and avoid exceeding these limits. They must also receive training to ensure they quickly identify scaffolding dangers at worksites.

3. Lockout/Tagout (LOTO)

Aerial lift operators must follow LOTO procedures to ensure that equipment is properly shut down and taken out of service. They must understand how to properly park and store a lift and deactivate any electrical components. If a lift is defective, an operator must notify their supervisor, who can document the problem and take the machine until it is repaired. Businesses must verify their aerial lift operators comply with LOTO procedures, too. They must keep their LOTO procedures up to date in accordance with OSHA requirements and provide aerial lift safety training to ensure their operators understand these procedures.

4. Powered Industrial Trucks

Forklifts, pallet jacks, and other powered industrial trucks can be dangerous, and aerial lift operators and their employers must plan accordingly. Operators must maintain full control of a powered industrial truck, operate the vehicle at a safe speed, and follow other safety measures. Businesses must educate operators about powered industrial truck safety requirements. Furthermore, businesses should only let workers who have received proper training use powered industrial trucks at their worksites.   

5. Machine Guarding

Machine guards protect aerial lift operators against accidents caused by moving parts. Guards must be securely attached to a lift and prevent any part of an operator’s body or clothing from making contact with the machine. They should never interfere with an operator’s ability to safely use a lift. Guards should prevent foreign objects from entering a lift and potentially creating new hazards as well.

How to Avoid OSHA Aerial Lift Safety Violations

There are many things you can do to avoid OSHA aerial lift safety violations, such as:

-Conduct ongoing worksite hazard assessments. Watch for worksite hazards and address them before they can get out of hand.


-Develop and execute a written safety compliance plan. Make a plan to comply with OSHA aerial lift safety requirements, review your plan regularly, and keep it up to date.

-Teach aerial lift operators about workplace dangers. Provide aerial lift safety training that allows workers to become OSHA-certified aerial lift operators; this training teaches workers about OSHA requirements for aerial lift operators.  

Remember, your business is responsible for protecting its aerial lift operators against on-the-job dangers. With a proactive approach to OSHA compliance, you can guard against aerial lift accidents that can lead to death or injury. The result: your aerial lift operators can remain safe and productive, and your business can avoid OSHA violations.  

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