There are many situations in which a worker is required to construct, maintain, or troubleshoot a piece of equipment that is located well above normally accessible heights. In some cases a ladder suffices. In other more long term projects, scaffolding is a good choice. But in many cases in which a temporary and flexible solution for accessing a working location is necessary, personnel lifts are the best option available.
The industries that use personnel lifts (otherwise known as aerial work platforms, cherry pickers, or scissor lifts) are as varied as the types of work that they make possible. Utility companies access overhead lines using personnel lifts. Industrial companies use them to maintain and install equipment. They are used in construction and they are helpful for both indoor and outdoor building maintenance. They are also used by firefighters to rescue people and extinguish fires.
The two main types of lifts are articulating lifts and scissor lifts. Articulating lifts employ either a crane-like boom or a jointed arm to extend the worker to the appropriate height. They are able to travel vertically, can be tilted, and can be rotated, and therefore provide the most flexibility of use. Scissor lifts can only be extended vertically but are more than adequate for many tasks.
The base of a personnel lift is very important to safety of the worker. Some bases can be controlled and moved along the ground by the operator while in use, whereas others are vehicle mounted for mobility. The bases of some lifts are stationary because they require outriggers to create a strong foundation (similarly to a crane.)
The safety hazards of a personnel lift are very similar to those of scaffolding. Fall hazards, tools falling from the work platform, and structural collapse are shared hazards. However, lifts come with additional hazards such as; tip-over potential, contact with objects or a ceiling, electrocution by contact with overhead lines, and entanglement (in trees, machinery, or overhead lines.).
Here are some methods that personnel lift operators can take to prevent some safety hazards:
There are many emergency safety features built into personnel lifts but even so there are very real hazards associated with using their use. Proper maintenance, training, and operation are crucial to the safety of the workers using any of the various personnel lifts available.