How to Stay Safe While Operating a Manlift
To stay safe while operating a manlift, you need to follow the rules. Safety measures are not suggestions. Without workers following these rules, your job site becomes dangerous. Manlifts operated incorrectly put your workers in danger of crushing injuries and falls. Plus, you could do expensive damage to on-site property and the lift itself. This article will explain the specific safety practices you need to follow, plus the training you and your employees should have to use this equipment.
Safety Procedures for Operating a Manlift
Regardless of the manlift type, your job is to use that equipment safely. When you follow safe operation rules, you keep both you and your co-workers free from harm. You also save time and money by preventing injuries and equipment damage.
Your safety instructions include everything from anchoring your lanyard and moving the lift to comporting yourself while on the lift. The best way to get a comprehensive overview of all these practices is to get professional lift training, a subject discussed later in this article.
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) offers rules that you must follow. People ascending in aerial lifts must use safety harnesses. No matter how low or high your lift goes, you need a safety harness with a lanyard that attaches to the work platform. This lanyard protects workers from falls no greater than 6 feet.
To anchor a fall-protection lanyard, you must clip it only to the approved spot on the manlift. Don’t anchor yourself to a structure outside of the lift, and don’t clip yourself to another part of the lift. You should also avoid wrapping your lanyard around a railing or tying it into a knot. Safety clip spots should be steel-welded to the structure.
Below are a few more safety rules for using manlifts:
- Keep your feet firmly on the platform floor
- Don’t sit on the railing, lean out of the basket, or prop your feet up on any structure
- Never brace yourself with one foot outside the lift.
If you need to leave the lift at a height to complete a work task, check with the manufacturer for specific safety instructions. Experts recommend using a transport lift to move to a different height at your job site safely. However, discuss possible protocols with your employer or employees if you must enter or exit a manlift while at height. Remember to practice on the ground before attempting anything in the air. OSHA doesn’t have specific guidelines set for this aspect of manlift use.
Other safety practices to follow include:
- Do not override or turn off any hydraulics or safety features.
- Don’t move the lift from one location to another while the work platform is in the air or while someone is working on the platform.
- Always pay attention to how much weight the lift can handle and never exceed the limit.
- Pay attention to power lines and overhead hazards.
- Always use brakes and stabilizers.
Training Needed to Operate a Manlift Safely
Your employees need proper training to operate manlifts safely, as required by OSHA. Training is available in many formats, including in-person classes, online classes, videos, and tutorials. Check with the manufacturer of the lift you’re using or with the rental company from which you rented the equipment for training. Many manufacturers offer training programs, and rental companies can help you discover the best training for the people operating the lift. Major manufacturers such as JLG and Genie offer aerial lift training. OSHA offers construction worker safety training, which includes lift training. The U.S. Department of Labor certifies you after you complete the online course.
While you need to take an official class to get certified, you can find free information about safety practices online.
Getting yourself and your employees trained can save money by minimizing work accidents and injuries. You also save time when workers already know how to use the lifts when they arrive to work on a job site. Plus, certified employees can train other employees. Onboarding new employees is easier when you have a trainer on staff.
Retrain your employees if a workplace accident has occurred. You should retrain every time your company uses a new type of lift, no matter how similar it is to the lifts you’ve been using. If you discover any workplace hazards involving a manlift, you also need to retrain your employees, even if no accident has occurred.
Below are some aspects you’ll learn with training:
- The specifics for safely operating a manlift, such as how to safely move it and position it.
- How to move around a warehouse with exposed beams so that no one in the lift gets crushed.
- Repairs and maintenance.
- How to put up and dismantle any additional fall protection implements that come with the lift.
- The dangers of operating a lift and how to minimize those dangers.
To pass your training program, you need to demonstrate that you can properly move and position the lift. Proving your skills and safety knowledge ensures you’re ready to operate the lift at a job site.
Finally, even if you have your aerial lift training completed, always read handbooks and manuals before operating a lift. Refresh your memory if you’ve used the lift before, or familiarize yourself with a new lift. The extra time you take to read material is worthwhile. Everyone who operates the lift should be familiar with how it works and how to use it safely.
Pre-Start and Work Site Inspection of a Manlift
You need to conduct a pre-start inspection of the manlift itself and a worksite inspection. If you skip these inspections, you could create hazardous situations that may result in injuries or property damage. Inspections are part of good safety practices for manlift operation. A trained worker should always conduct these inspections. If you find any problems, repair the lift before using it.
Your pre-start inspection makes sure that the vehicle and the lift are in working order. You need to do this inspection at least once a week or each time you use the lift if you use it infrequently.
The vehicle inspection includes checking:
- Hydraulic levels
- Coolant levels
- Oil levels
- Steering components
- Lower-level lift controls
The lift inspection should include:
- Operating controls
- Emergency controls
- Personal safety devices
- Any missing or unreadable safety information, including placards
- Hydraulics, pneumatics, electricity, and fuel
- Fasteners and pins
- Stabilizers and outriggers
- Wiring harnesses
- Any loose or missing parts
Worksite inspections need to include:
- Terrain (contains loose dirt, holes, or drop-offs)
- Ceiling heights
- Bumps, ditches, and slopes
- Floor obstructions such as debris
- Overhead hazards, including electrical lines
- Weather conditions, such as high wind or ice
- Places where every worker is stationed, especially in relation to the lift’s position
- Any other hazards or obstructions
Remember: You need to keep a record of each inspection for the U.S. Labor Secretary’s office. That record includes the manlift’s serial number, the person who did the inspection, and the date the inspection happened.
Risks When Operating a Manlift
You put yourself and anyone at your job site in danger if you operate a manlift without following safety rules. Falls and other injuries that result from manlift use are preventable with the right training. However, you need to be aware of what could happen.
Lifting a load that’s heavier than the manlift’s load limits puts the lift at risk for tipping over. Tipping lifts can crush anything that they fall on. Similarly, when a lift tips, the person standing on the platform is in danger of falling out. Stopping a lift on uneven terrain that’s at a higher gradation than the lift is rated to handle will also cause a tipping hazard. Failing to set the brakes and the stabilizers can cause the lift to roll or to tip.
Another major cause of falls is moving the lift while someone is standing on the raised platform. Failing to wear safety harnesses or attach lanyards often turns into extremely dangerous falls.
Overhead hazards are a major cause of injury. If a worker is positioned between two beams, for example, that person will get crushed if the lift moves accidentally. Active power lines are another cause for concern, and only workers wearing electrical safety gear should get closer than 10 feet to these lines.
Don’t use a manlift to move freight, lumber, or building materials. These items can fall from the manlift and hurt workers on the ground. Always make sure you’re using the right type of equipment for your job.
When you get proper training and use the correct safety practices, you can confidently use a manlift at your next job site. Remember that misusing these powerful tools results in worker injury and expensive property damage. Seek out the training program that’s right for your business, or check out the Genie training resources BigRentz offers. Paying attention to safety is the surest way to keep your workers and your job site safe when you rent your next manlift from BigRentz.