Most Common Aerial & Scissor Lift Accidents and How to Avoid Them
Aerial and scissor lift online training can save lives. According to the CPWR, around 26 people die each year due to accidents involving aerial lifts. OSHA recorded 10 deaths and 20 severe injuries related to scissor lift accidents over a one year period. This prompted them to put out a hazard alert stressing that proper training is absolutely crucial in keeping accidents to a minimum.
Despite the dangers, aerial and scissor lifts play an important part in many industries. For instance, they are key pieces of equipment for building and construction companies. However, while both aerial and scissor lifts are used for work carried out at height, they operate in different ways and for different purposes.
Aerial lifts are platforms that operate in a similar way to a crane with multi-jointed sections to allow for movement in various directions. This means that aerial lift safety is particularly important when it comes to repair and maintenance of power lines, construction, safety inspections, painting and exterior repairs, and firefighting for tall buildings.
Scissor lifts, on the other hand, are platforms that rest on a crisscross support and can only go up and down. Scissor lift safety should, therefore, be a priority in industrial and manufacturing environments, for example reaching high-level storage spaces in warehouses, changing lights, repairing or fixing signs, and cleaning gutters.
In this article, we look at some of the most common aerial and scissor lift accidents and how you can avoid them.
1. Touching Power Lines
One of the leading causes of injury and death on aerial and scissor lifts is electrocution from overhead power lines. This can happen in a number of ways. The employee might come into contact directly with the power line or it could be the equipment that makes contact. Not wearing the correct footwear and clothing is also often a factor. Workers should always assume that a power line is active and anyone on the site but not working directly with the lines should stay 10 feet clear of them.
Aerial lifts are at particular risk of being involved in this type of accident, which is why solid aerial lift online training for power line workers is crucial. This teaches employees to properly assess the space for overhead power lines and other potential dangers. They will learn how to avoid live power lines and also which tools, clothing, and equipment are best for minimizing accidents. They will also be taught how to prevent toppling accidents which can bring the lift into contact with power lines.
2. Toppling Over
Both aerial and scissor lifts are prone to tipping over under the wrong circumstances. This can happen if the load is off-center or if a worker is leaning out of the lift – once the center of gravity is off-kilter, it’s unfortunately not difficult for the entire machine to topple over. Again, there can be a number of reasons for this.
With scissor lifts, bad weather can often be the cause of the equipment tipping over. High winds are particularly hazardous. The surface the lift is on can also play a part. Uneven surfaces, potholes, and inclines are all potential dangers for scissor lift usage and can lead to accidents.
Aerial lifts are most at risk of toppling over due to uneven surfaces. Unlike scissor lifts which only move up and down, aerial lifts can also move horizontally and vertically. This means they are, by nature, less stable. If the machine is on ground which is not even, this level of stability decreases drastically, making it more susceptible to tipping.
To prevent this type of accident employees should not use the machinery on uneven surfaces or in high winds. They should make sure there are not any overhead hazards that could exacerbate an accident (for example, live power lines), and never exceed the load capacity. Lifts should not be driven with the platform elevated and reach limits should never be exceeded.
Proper training is also key. Employees will learn how to effectively assess their surroundings for hazards such as uneven ground, potholes, small objects, and slopes. This can hugely reduce the number of toppling accidents.
3. Being Trapped Between the Lift and an Object
Workers being injured and even killed due to becoming trapped between an object and the lift itself is, unfortunately, a fairly common occurrence. This most often happens when the bucket is in movement and the employee gets trapped between the edge of it and an object. Workers on the ground can also be crushed if a lift topples over.
To avoid this sort of accident, the site should be assessed for dangers and hazards prior to starting work. Equipment should be checked thoroughly and any moving parts properly guarded. On-foot workers should be cleared from the area and loose clothing avoided. Scissor lifts are particularly at risk for these incidents and close attention should always be paid to overhead hazards such as ceilings, beams, pipes, and power lines.
Scissor lift online training can help reduce the number of injuries caused by workers becoming trapped. It will teach them the dangers posed by various objects and how accidents can be avoided. It will also focus closely on how to prevent situations where the worker can be crushed by contact with overhead objects.
4. Falling from the Lift
Aerial and scissor lift operators work at height and so falls are one of the most common causes of injury and death. The lift being unstable due to bad weather or uneven surfaces is a contributing factor, as is the lift being hit by another object such as a vehicle.
Every time a scissor or aerial lift is used workers should have proper fall protection. Too often employees can become complacent and rely on their skills rather than the safety gear. Unexpected things can happen while operating a lift, something could fall on a worker and knock them out of the lift or a vehicle could collide with the equipment, causing the worker to lose their balance.
To minimize the number of injuries and deaths caused by falls, the proper body harness should be worn and attached to the lift. Workers should never climb over the edge of the bucket and stand inside it at all times. All gates and doors should be closed beforehand to avoid vehicles entering the work area and colliding with the lift. Online Fall Protection training can prepare employees fully to follow the correct processes both before and during lift use to help prevent falls.
5. Failing to Follow Instruction Guidelines
Unfortunately, a large number of accidents involving aerial and scissor lifts are down to human error. A worker might need an extra inch or two to reach the work area and so decide to just stand on one of the side rails. This thought occurs to many people operating aerial and scissor lifts each year and is sadly a common cause of injury and death. Other errors include not properly assessing a work area before using the machinery, failure to notice hazards, not wearing the correct safety equipment, and not operating the lift properly.
These accidents can be eliminated almost in their entirety by employing good, solid, effective training. Online training courses can teach workers how to operate the lift safely, how to inspect equipment properly, how to thoroughly assess their worksite, and how to avoid hazards. With highly trained workers operating aerial and scissor lifts, there will be far fewer tipping and crushing accidents, falls, and electrocutions.
The Importance of Training in Avoiding Aerial and Scissor Lift Accidents
If you’re a manufacturing firm that frequently uses scissor lifts in your warehouse to access tall shelving or change lights, then you might well benefit from signing your employees up to a scissor lift online training course. Or perhaps you’re a construction company that relies on aerial lifts for building and maintenance tasks – in which case, an aerial lift online training course could help significantly reduce the risk of injury or death for your workers.
Construction, industrial, and manufacturing environments by nature involve some dangers. Accidents, to some extent, are inevitable. However, as we have seen above, a large number of the incidents that do occur are due to preventable causes. This means that ultimately, a lot of them are avoidable.
Foreseeing and preventing accidents is clearly in everyone’s best interests. Not only does it mean fewer injuries and deaths, but also less damage to equipment, lower insurance costs and liabilities, and increased productivity in your workplace. Whichever type of equipment you currently use, providing aerial and scissor lift online training for your employees can benefit you greatly.
If you have any questions, or would like to explore online training further, please, reach out to our team. We would be happy to help!