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Environmental Health and Safety - Boom Lifts

Boom Lifts

(Aerial Lifts, Bucket Truck, Cherry Picker, Vehicle-mounted Elevating & Rotating Work Platforms)

An aerial device includes any vehicle- mounted device, boom supported aerial platforms, such as cherry pickers or bucket trucks. The major causes of fatalities are falls, electrocutions, and collapses or tip overs. Tip-overs are usually caused by misapplication of the machine, obstacles, lack of use or incorrect use of outriggers, unfamiliarity with the operator's manuals and procedures, and lack of training.

All WKU employees or students operating aerial lifts, boom trucks, or cherry pickers whether rented, owned or leased, must be trained in the safe use, inspection, maintenance, operation, and rescue procedures when using the lift. Decisions on the use and operation of the aerial platform and boom truck must be made based on the fact that this machine will be carrying personnel whose safety is dependent on those decisions.  Operators must be able to demonstrate proficient knowledge in the actual operation of the lift under the direction of a qualified person.  Users need to be able to assess potential hazards and be able to identify solutions for prevention of the hazard.

Training records shall be maintained by the department that owns or leases aerial lifts or boom trucks. Records must include the date of training, instructor’s name, participant’s name, and material covered. Retraining should occur:   if the operator has been observed operating the vehicle in an unsafe manner; if the operator has been involved in an accident; if the operator is assigned to drive a different type of lift; or new methods and procedures are introduced.

Each lift should have the operating and maintenance manual located on the vehicle. Maintenance and annual inspections should be performed according to the manufacturer’s instruction. Pre-start inspections should be conducted by the user each and every time the lift is used. Do a walk around to check for leaks, missing or loose parts, weld integrity, and all required decals and stickers are on or around the articulating boom. Check operating and emergency controls, safety devices, personal protective devices, and any other items specified by the manufacturer.

Inspect the area in which the aerial platform or boom truck will be used for any possible hazards such as;   drop offs, holes, sloping, overhead obstructions and high voltage conductors. Ensure that the minimum safe distance from energized power lines can be maintained.   Examine the area for pedestrian traffic and verify if the area will need to be barricaded or blocked off during the operation of the equipment.    


  • Secure aerial ladders in the lower traveling position by locking the device on top of the truck cab and the manually operated device at the base of the ladder prior to moving the truck. Insure outrigger devices (if equipped) are properly stored prior to moving.
  • Set the brakes and position the outrigger devices (if equipped) on pads or similar solid surfaces and install the wheel chocks before using aerial lift equipment (especially on inclines).
  • Do not move aerial lift trucks with employees located in the elevated work boom position, except for equipment specifically designed or certified as "field modified" for this type of operation.
  • Insure that aerial lift devices equipped with working elevated platforms contain both elevated platform (upper) and lower controls. Upper controls are located in or beside the elevated platform, within easy reach of the operator. Lower controls are designed to override the upper controls.
  • Check to be sure that controls are plainly marked as to their function.
  • Do not exceed manufacturer’s load-capacity limits (including the weight of such things as bucket liners and tools).
  • Test lift controls each day prior to use to insure safe working conditions.
  • Personal protective equipment must be worn, fall arrest system or fall restraint system at all times, and hard hats must be worn if there is a possibility of striking or being struck by objects, safety glasses and gloves may be required depending on job hazard.
  • Keep feet firmly on the floor of the basket or elevated platform at all times.
  • Do not sit, climb or position yourself on the edge of the basket or elevated platform.
  • Do not use planks, ladders or other devices to increase working height
  • Do not operate lower controls unless permission has been obtained from the employee(s) in the elevated platform, except in case of an emergency
  • Do not position the aerial lift device against another object to steady the elevated platform.
  • Do not use aerial lift devices as a crane or other lifting device.
  • Do not operate aerial lift devices from trucks, scaffolds, or similar equipment unless approved in writing by the manufacturer.
  • Limit travel speeds of aerial lift devices according the conditions of the ground surface, congestion, visibility, slope, location of personnel and other factors that may cause hazards to other nearby personnel.
  • Shut down the aerial lift device engine prior to fueling. Fuel engines or charge fuel cylinders in well ventilated areas free of flames, sparks or other hazards which may cause fires or explosions.
  • Charge batteries in well ventilated areas free of flames, sparks or other hazards which may cause fires or explosions.
  • Be sure to maintain a clear view of the path of travel, maintain a safe distance from other obstacles, debris, drop offs, holes, depressions, slopes and other hazards. Maintain a safe distance from overhead obstacles (including overhead electrical power lines).
  • Stunt driving and horseplay are prohibited.
  • Do not position booms and elevated platform devices in an attempt to jack the wheels off the ground.
  • Do not operate aerial lift devices on grades, side slopes or ramps that exceed the manufacturer's recommendations.
  • If elevated platforms or elevated work areas become caught, snagged or otherwise do not operate properly, remove personnel from the platform prior to freeing the elevated platform using ground controls.
  • Insure the area surrounding the elevated platform is clear of personnel and equipment prior to lowering the elevated platform.
  • Do not alter the insulated portion of an aerial lift device in any manner that might reduce its insulating effectiveness.
  • Before moving a lift for travel, the boom shall be inspected to see that it is properly cradled and outriggers are in stowed position.


Only trained, qualified personnel may be authorized to operate an aerial device, bucket truck, or cherry picker.


Bucket Truck Information

OSHA Fact Sheet

CPWR Aerial Lift Safety Hazard Alert

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 Last Modified 2/8/18