Aerial Lifts Safety

Before you operate an aerial lift you need to be qualified.  Qualification can accomplished through classroom and hands-on training with the type of aerial lift that will be used.  Do not operate or work from an aerial lift unless you are qualified.  This tool-box-talk will highlight some basic requirements.

Aerial Lift

Aerial lifts include the following types of vehicle-mounted aerial devices used to elevate personnel to work locations above ground or laterally:

  • extensible boom platforms
  • aerial ladders
  • articulating boom platforms
  • vertical towers
  • and any combination of the above

Basic requirements from OSHA include:

  • Lift controls shall be tested each day prior to use to determine that they are in safe working condition.
  • Only authorized persons shall operate an aerial lift.
  • Belting or tying off to an adjacent pole, structure, or equipment while working from an aerial lift is not permitted.
  • Employees shall always stand firmly on the floor of the basket, and shall not sit or climb on the edge of the basket or use planks, ladders, or other devices for a work position.
  • A body harness shall be worn and a lanyard attached to the boom or basket when working from an aerial lift.
  • Do not exceed the boom or basket load limits specified by the manufacturer.
  • The brakes shall be set and when outriggers are used, they shall be positioned on pads or a solid surface.  Wheel chocks shall be installed before using on an incline.
  • An aerial lift truck shall not be moved when the boom is elevated in a working position with personnel in the basket, except for equipment which is specifically designed for this type of operation.
  • Articulating boom and extensible boom platforms, primarily used as personnel carriers, shall have both upper and lower controls.  Upper controls shall be in or beside the platform within easy reach of the operator.  Lower controls shall provide for overriding the upper controls.  Controls shall be plainly marked as to their function.  Lower controls shall not be operated unless permission has been given by the employee in the lift, except in the case of an emergency.
  • Pole or tree climbers shall not be worn while performing work from an aerial lift.
  • If the aerial lift has an insulated portion it shall not be altered in any manner that might reduce its insulating value.
  • Before moving an aerial lift for travel, the boom(s) shall be inspected to see that it is properly cradled and the outriggers are in the stowed position, unless it is specifically designed otherwise.
  • Lifts that are designed to be used in or near power lines must be di-electrically tested and conform to the test procedures required by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
  • The manufacturer’s manual must be kept in the lift and the operator must be familiar with all facets of operation for that particular unit.

Final thoughts . . .

  • Be aware of overhead hazards and unstable ground conditions, including potholes, materials and debris.
  • Do not use defective equipment.
  • Do not use a personal lift for any other purpose than to lift people and personal tools.  DO NOT USE AS A CRANE!!


The FlatRock Group provides free ToolBox Talks as a service to the industry. This content may be downloaded using the “Download PDF” icon at the bottom of each Talk. Once downloaded user may reproduce additional copies for use in conducting site ToolBox Talks and training as described below.  Employers, managers, employees and workplace safety and health professionals  are authorized to use this material in their workplaces or practices in accordance with our Copyright & Disclaimer Policies.  All tips and content contained in these ToolBox Talks are believed to true, correct and safe; however, The FlatRock Group, LLC and/or the Author accepts no legal responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency, or completeness of such information or suggestions contained within these ToolBox Talks. 


ToolBoxs Talk Aerial Lifts

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About the author

Kent Leighton, Founder of The Flat Rock Group, has more than 40 years of experience in the Construction and Development Industry. Having owned a successful midsize General Contracting firm he understands the opportunities and trials of running a successful business enterprise. His passion is sharing his victories and his scars with leaders and managers to help them grow and prosper.