Aerial Equipment Safety Tips

Follow these do’s and don’ts to avoid a potentially fatal fall.

Nearly all aerial equipment accidents are preventable. Yet there are about 26 deaths per year related to these lifts. Operators and riders can help get this number to zero by taking a few precautions.

Here are twelve of the most important do’s and don’ts to remember.


  • Wear a harness. Everyone who operates aerial equipment is required to use a properly sized and adjusted hardness, with a self-retracting lanyard or 4-foot fixed lanyard securely attached to an anchor point in the platform. Running over an uneven surface like a pothole or small bump can send a ripple of energy up to the platform — you could get bounced around in the basket and even thrown out if you’re not secured.
  • Make sure the surface is level. The ground surface should be level and free of obstructions.
  • Keep booms, cranes and attachments as low as possible when moving aerial equipment.
  • Use a spotter. Also, check your path for people on foot and obstructions before getting in the basket.
  • Hold everyone accountable. If you see someone putting his or her life or someone else’s life at risk, speak up.



  • Don’t overload the equipment. Both people and objects (tools and materials) can overload the equipment, causing it to tip or collapse. Follow the weight limits.
  • Don’t operate near power lines. This is the leading cause of lift-related deaths. Never operate aerial equipment within 25 feet of power lines. (OSHA requires maintaining a minimum clearance of at least 10 feet from the nearest energized overhead lines.) Do not test or raise the boom for attachments under them; find another spot.
  • Don’t overreach when you are in the basket or bend over the guard rail. Keep your feet firmly on the platform.
  • Don’t speed. Speed, and you could tip over.
  • Don’t operate in poor conditions. Wind is one of the top weather concerns, but snow, ice, and rain can also affect aerial lift safety.
  • Don’t let anyone use an aerial lift who isn’t properly trained. Follows OSHA’s training requirements for this equipment.
  • Don’t move the lift with workers in an elevated platform. The exception is when the manufacturer permits it. Always read the manual.


Stacy Tornio is a writer and journalist in Wisconsin who covers everything from the outdoors and travel to education and technology.


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