Boom lifts, also known as cherry pickers, are boom-supported aerial platforms. They are mainly used in construction, fruit picking and overhead power line service, and either come with a separate trailer or are fitted on the back of a truck, called a bucket truck. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements for boom lifts distinguish between equipment safety and operator safety training.
OSHA regulations do not demand certification for boom lift operators, but they require that workers who operate aerial lifts are properly trained in the safe use of the equipment. Training can be given by the employer, provided it is done by a qualified person, or a professional trainer. Training issues must include electrical and fall risks, hazard precautions, load capacity and restrictions, manufacturer requirements based on the manual and a final skills demonstration in the operation of the boom lift.
Proper maintenance of the boom lift contributes significantly to workplace safety. OSHA advises employers to perform maintenance with the help of qualified mechanics who are experienced with the specific lift model. Maintenance should be performed frequently and in accordance with the manufacturer's manual. At least once a year, a detailed inspection must be undertaken. All electrical, mechanical, pneumatic and hydraulic components must be examined and tested thoroughly.
Personal Protective Equipment
According to OSHA, it is the employer's responsibility to ensure that workers use personal protective equipment that can protect the wearer from harm or even death. Apart from standard equipment such as hard hats, high-visibility clothing and steel-toe boots, boom lift operators are required to use a body harness with a lanyard attached to the lift to prevent the worker from being pulled out of the basket. It is also the employer's responsibility to ensure that the restraint system is arranged in a way that prevents an employee from falling any distance if an accident should happen.
Safe working routines require that the boom operator, or anyone else on site, does not move the equipment with workers in an elevated platform or bucket unless it is specifically permitted by the manufacturer of the boom lift. Hydraulic, mechanical or electrical safety devices should never be manually disabled, and brakes, outriggers and wheel chocks should be used whenever applicable, for example when the boom lift is on an incline. To avoid being crushed, workers must not position themselves between overhead obstructions and the basket.
While general workers are required to maintain a minimum clearance of at least 10 feet from the nearest overhead lines, different rules apply to power line workers who have to access the utility. Apart from being authorized boom operators, power line workers must be licensed by their professional organizations and acquire a power line certification from OSHA.
Based in the U.K., Petra Turnbull has been working as a journalist since 1989. Her articles on the film and book trades have been published in "Screen International," "Dagens Naringsliv," "Film Magasinet" and other Scandinavian newspapers and magazines. She now manages her own book shop. Turnbull holds degrees in law and economics from Goethe University, Germany and Oslo Business School in Norway.