Safety Week 2016: Aerial Lifts

May 5, 2016

Aerial lifts can offer much more stability and a safer operating environment than a ladder or Baker scaffold, but lifts are complex machines that require considerably more precautions and awareness to operate without incident. Common types of aerial lifts found on Hunter Roberts jobsites include self-propelled units, vertical masts, scissor lifts, articulating booms, and telescoping booms.

First and foremost, all manufacturer-provided restrictions and safety precautions should be read and adhered to. This includes operational best practices, load limits, and proper storage when not in use. Only aerial lifts that meet ANSI and OSHA standards should be used on any Hunter Roberts jobsite.

Lifts are designed for use on flat or minimally sloped surfaces (generally, less than a five degree slope). Check the manufacturer’s specifications for each unit. Begin each day’s operation with a thorough inspection of both the lift unit and the work site where you are using the lift. Check function tests and the reliability of safety devices before you extend the lift to your working height. If any functionality or safety devices are found to be working improperly, do not use the lift and report the issue to a supervisor. Only trained and authorized service and repair mechanics should make alterations or changes to an aerial lift.

Common risks associated with using an aerial lift include electrocution, tip-over or collapse, falls, collisions, and entanglements.

To minimize risk of electrocution, do not use any part of the lift as a source for grounding hot work equipment or electrical devices. Always use double insulated or grounded tools. Do not operate a lift outdoors if there is a chance of lightening. Personnel on the ground should never operate ground controls while a lift is in contact with a live electrical source. Always de-energize electrical sources first.

Avoid tip-over or collapse by always following the manufacturer-recommended load, slope, speed, and extension restrictions. Do not alter stabilizing mechanisms while the platform is raised, regardless of whether someone is on the platform or not. Distribute loads on the platform evenly – never increase the surface area with planks or boards and never hang materials or tools on the rails of the platform.

Ensure all guardrails are safely installed to minimize the risk of falls. Whenever applicable, use properly anchored fall arrest systems to provide additional safety. Always keep both feet firmly planted on the platform while working – never lean or climb guardrails.

Be aware of other lifts and elevated work platforms (ladders, scaffolds) to avoid collisions. When possible, use lifts in low trafficked areas and during low trafficked times. Be aware of the lift’s swing range and always use the boom controls (not the drive controls) to best position yourself to your work area.

Entanglements can create life threatening crushing, pinching, or shearing wounds. Always keep hands, arms, and other body parts within the area of the platform and guardrail. Keep hands and feet away from moving parts while operating from the ground. Avoid loose clothing and secure long hair that could easily become caught in chains, pulleys, and lifts. Finally, always refrain from horseplay around and on aerial lifts.


Safety Week 2016: Electrical Safety

May 5, 2016

Office and jobsite workers are constantly surrounded by electrical devices and tools, and may take it for granted that such devices are safe, but improper use and operation in harmful conditions are some of the more common ways that otherwise “safe” workers find themselves at risk for injury due to electricity.

Everyone knows not to operate their toaster in the bathtub, but even damp conditions can be a powerful conductor for electrocution. Always be mindful of your surroundings. Never repair or adjust portable electric tools while they remained plugged in or operate them in the presence of flammable vapors or gases unless they are designed for such use.

Always inspect portable electric tools prior to use. Check them for defective or broken insulation or plugs, improper or poorly made connections to terminals, broken or otherwise defective plugs, and loose or broken switches. Ensure that all power supply systems, electrical circuits, and electrical equipment is grounded and frequently inspect systems to ensure the path to ground is continuous. Never remove ground prongs from plugs to use them in an ungrounded outlet. Not only is it unsafe, but it also makes the cord unfit for future grounded use.

Jobsites should use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to provide electrical current to tethered tools whenever possible. Use equipment marked as double insulated to provide further protection.