There are two basic types of aerial lifts that you would need training for. Scissor lifts and boom lifts. There has been a recent change to the Canadian Standards Association’s definition of aerial lifts. They are now called Mobile Elevating work platforms. Additionally, they have included vertical lifts in the definition.
So, there are three types of aerial lift.
A scissor lift is a mobile-powered piece of equipment that lets you elevate up to a height to complete your work. Aerial lifts are helpful in all sorts of industries. Scissor lifts are essential equipment from construction, service, mechanical, warehouses, and many other industries.
A boom lift is an aerial work platform that allows you to lift and extend to many different positions around the base of your machine. You can even rotate around the base. You can also find the boom lift in many industries. Still, based on my experience, you will most likely find the boom lift on constructions sites or at the site of a service call. A contractor may be switching out lights, electrical fixtures or even air conditioning units.
A vertical lift is, for all purposes, a lot more like a scissor lift than a boom lift, but with a couple of minor differences. The first difference being the vertical lift is more practical in small spaces because the deck is usually smaller in length and width than your regular scissor lift. Another marked difference is that the vertical lift has models manually pushed in the lift position using castors at the base rather than powered wheels. The VLPs are easier to maneuver in tight spaces. Those models usually come with outriggers that elevate the bottom of the lift to balance it before lifting the machine.
Aerial lifts have an obvious purpose. To lift people to a height to get their job done. AWPs and ABLs are safer and far more effective means of getting up to the height you need without using a ladder. Often there is no other choice but to use an aerial lift. If I had to guess, you could work at 10 to 20 times the speed you would have using a ladder. And, end of the day, no one I know is going on a ladder that goes up sixty feet. And truth be told, if a ladder that could do that, I would say you first!
Aerial lifts are designed with your safety in mind first. They have anchor points to attach your fall arrest system and guardrails that form a barrier around the deck to prevent you from falling in the first place. This system is called a fall restraint system. Both help prevent you from falling and, if you do fall, stop you from hitting the ground. It sure beats a 125ft ladder. For the record, no such thing as a 125ft ladder. And if there is, I suggest you take the day off if anyone asks you to climb it.
A scissor lift has noticeably less maneuverability than a boom lift. Still, often it is the right aerial work platform for the job. It is handy when working indoors, where you can take advantage of the rubber tires. These tires have the least negative impact on the ground below you when operating the lift. Past think you want to do in a movie theatre or brand new surface is to have big heavy black tires damage the ground.
There are outdoor models as well for more rough terrain-type applications. These usually start at twenty-six feet lift and higher. Some scissor lifts are equipped with outriggers to ensure your lift is balanced in all directions before you elevate from the ground.
On the other hand, a boom lift is a far more versatile MEWP (mobile elevating work platform). You can adjust the platform at almost any location above and around the base of the unit. It can lift a lot higher than a scissor lift or vertical lift. One drawback, though, is the bulky base. It is not as easy to get into tight spaces with driving and positioning alone. You may have to rely more on activating the boom sections to work around objects on the ground.
Aerial Boom lifts also have indoor options. These units are battery-powered and also have rubber tires to protect the surfaces you are driving on. Because the electric boom lifts have a smaller base, they give you lower height maximums and more weight restrictions in the platform.
Finally, Boom lifts come in a lot of different options. There are standard units that are mobile and power. Some boom lifts can be towed behind a vehicle. You can also choose between an articulating or knuckle lift and a stick boom (telescopic boom lift).
It depends on the job and the application you are using these units. A vertical lift may be more practical than a scissor lift and the same for a boom lift. Then, of course, you need to consider if you need a rough terrain unit with bigger, more aggressive tires or if you need a battery-powered unit.
There are quite a few brands in the market. They all function relatively the same but have a few design differences. It is essential to know the machine you are going to be operating. One of the first things we teach an operator is to get comfortable with their aerial lift controls and systems whenever we train our clients. For example, a JLG aerial boom lift has a timer connected to the foot peddle/dead man device. If your foot is on the pedal for 3 seconds and you haven’t moved any of the controls, the lift will force you to reset your foot. JLG wants to make sure you are aware of your actions with the equipment. I’ve seen people bypass the dead man device (not recommended) by placing an object on top of the foot peddle. Genie lifts tend not to have this time triggered deadman device. Genie controls may have more levers than buttons and switches. Here is a list of some of the popular brands in the North American Market:
The regulations below govern the standards across Canada. Each province will have its own rules and regulations. These regulations will meet and usually exceed the CSA/ANSI standard requirements and are specific to issues in that particular province.
B354.6:17 Mobile elevating work platforms – Design, calculations, safety requirements, and test methods (Adopted ISO 16368:2010, second edition, 2010-05-15, with Canadian deviations)
B354.7:17 Mobile elevating work platforms — Safety principles, inspection, maintenance and operation (Adopted ISO 18893:2014, second edition, 2014-04-15, with Canadian deviations)
B354.8:17 Mobile elevating work platforms — Operator (driver) training (Adopted ISO 18878:2013, second edition, 2013-08-01, with Canadian deviations)
Vertical and Scissor lifts can lift from as low as ten feet up to fifty feet or more if you use a rough terrain type unit with outrigger options.
A boom lift can go up to 150+ feet. Also, there is a term called working height. Working height is an additional six feet from the maximum height of the platform.
The idea is that your average worker will have an extra six ft. of working ability if you are tight on space or need to be a bit more exact.
There is a vast range.
It comes down to the unit you use.
I’ve seen scissor lifts with a max capacity of 200lbs at the platform up to 1000lbs. I’m sure there are units with greater capacity out there. It depends on the make and model. Boom lifts tend to hover in the 300lbs – 1000lbs max capacity. Boom lifts with 1000lbs maximum capacities tend to change based on the position of the boom. An indicator at the platform controls will usually warn you when there is a change.
You will have a decal indicating how many people, including tools and materials, and how much weight the platform can handle with both machines. A competent operator will know where to locate these decals and indicators and how to stay within these limits.
There are some key factors to consider if you are going to operate an aerial lift safely. I have listed a few of them to keep things simple for you. For something more extensive and to view our training courses, see our aerial lift training programs at scissor lift or a boom lift Make sure you have the right equipment for the job.
Most importantly, when using your aerial lift, you must make sure you wear your personal fall protection. Most workplaces require you follow Industry guidelines from OHSA/ANSI for the USA and CSA/ANSI for Canada. These regulators and industry standards generally require lift operators to use approved fall protection. You should have aerial lift fall protection that is your size and in operable condition. It is what will stop you from hitting the ground in a fall, after all.
Never mind the regulators; this is for your safety. You won’t know when a fall will happen until it happens, so do everything to keep yourself safe ahead of the fall.
You must also use all PPE required at the job: hard toes boots, hi-vis vest or clothing, eye protection, and gloves.
Scissor lifts, and boom lifts can differ in terms of the length of the lanyard you are using for fall protection. Boom lifts generally have a shorter lanyard restriction because it makes it harder to climb the guardrails. The length can change based on country and state/province. Scissor lifts tend to be more forgiving since you have a more extended deck. But both will have a decal showing you the length restriction of your lanyard. You can also refer to the operator’s manual. The manual is in the black box of the platform. If you remember anything, remember these two important things I am about to say next. Never climb the guardrails, and you are responsible for your safety and anyone in the platform. Make sure you and your passengers are using your aerial fall protection.
The regulations that will affect you are listed below:
OSHA Title 29 CFR 1926.502(d)(16)(iii)
OSHA Title 29 CFR 1926.501(a)(1
CSA B354.7:17/ ANSI A92.22-2018
CSA C225/ ANSI A92.2-2015
Do you Provide Training?
Yes, we do. We train operators onsite. You have a few different options with us. We are back to offering in-person training. We do a blended online aerial lift course and provide combined Training if you have more than aerial lift training that you need to get done.