Safety and Health Bulletins

On the Safe Side: Aerial Lift Equipment

Aerial Lift Equipment: Recognizing and Avoiding Common Hazards

The use of aerial lift equipment has become more prevalent on projects throughout the United States and Canada. However, incident trends pertaining to the use of this equipment continues to contribute to fatalities and disabling injuries. This article highlights the common hazards associated with the use of aerial lift equipment that our members may face on future projects. The International Association's “2014 ZERO Fatality” campaign targets the deadly dozen hazards including the use of all types of aerial lift equipment.

Aerial lift equipment is sometimes the best choice to safely access work points to make beam to column connections or to perform welding, bolting and other activities. However, it is important to recognize and avoid common hazards regarding the use of this equipment.  The following are some of the primary causation factors that have contributed to fatalities and disabling injuries.


  • Electrocution: Contact with power lines
  • Overturning: Adverse job site conditions
  • Equipment malfunction: Hydraulic systems not calibrated
  • Struck by vehicles and overhead equipment: Trucks and other equipment striking equipment
  • Body fractures: Body parts caught between equipment lift railing and structural members
  • Lift failure: Overloading aerial lift basket with structural materials and equipment
  • Falls: Failure to tie-off to anchorage points in aerial lift basket and exiting basket without fall protection
  • Misuse of equipment: Failure to follow manufacturer’s directions
  • Working over or near water: Lack of protection from water hazards and rescue procedures
  • Operator error: Lack of training on use of specific types aerial lift equipment

The photograph below illustrates adverse jobsite conditions contributing to many serious incidents. It is important for our members to recognize and avoid aerial lift hazards. Prior to using any type of aerial lift equipment, our members must receive training by their employer, equipment manufacturer or their local union training facility.

The International Association will continue our “2014 ZERO FATALITY CAMPAIGN” to make 2014 our first year without a workplace fatality. This goal challenges all members to “See Something - Say Something,” to help recognize and avoid workplace hazards, including aerial lift hazards.