Aerial Lift Safety Guide: Options for Expert Training and Certification

Aerial Lift Safety Guide: Options for Expert Training and Certification

There’s more to training than meets the eye. Proficiency in aerial lift operations certainly builds important skill sets necessary to complete jobs. 

Beyond the basics, however, effective training programs for bucket truck operators lead to several major and proven benefits:

  • The very nature of aerial lift operations creates a large amount of potential for injury to operators and other crew members. Training greatly reduces that risk from falls, tip overs and exposure to electrical current.
  • Ongoing training on equipment controls makes aerial lift operators more efficient and productive. Transmission and distribution job time is subsequently reduced, and emergency power restoration efforts are streamlined.
  • Aerial lift training lowers costs by significantly reducing wear and tear on equipment, and by arming operators with the knowledge to identify and resolve equipment issues before they lead to more costly repairs. Equipment that stays in top condition for a longer period of time also improves your return on investment.
  • Training maintains compliance with OSHA and ANSI national and industry standards for aerial lifts. Non-compliance increases potential exposure to fines and financial damages. 

Aerial Lift OEM Operator Training Solutions 

Altec Sentry offers instructor-led and online training. The OSHA and ANSI compliant courses aid in the fulfillment of employer training requirements. Many programs are also offered in both operator and train-the-trainer formats.

Instructor-led training available from Altec covers insulating and non-insulating aerial devices, as well as bucket rescue procedures. Online training from the company includes basic operator safety courses that help meet qualification requirements when paired with familiarization and hands-on training. Familiarization courses cover basic safety and operation procedures for specific Altec units. 

Terex Utilities offers a variety of customizable training opportunities. The Edge is a web-based course that allows personnel to study the proper operation of aerial devices at their own pace, including all aspects of safe operation. Topics covered in the course include general guidelines, before operation, during operation, electrical hazards, emergency operation, and hand signals.

Aerial lift training by Versalift is focused on interactive programs in both online and in-person formats. Each program contains modules on inspections, operations, emergency procedures and safety. Available courses cover operating a variety of telescopic aerial lifts.

Aerial Lift Operator Certification

Do aerial lift operators have to be certified? The short answer is yes. There are two OSHA standards addressing the qualifications of lift operators. Section 1926.21(b)(2) requires employers to instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to his work environment. 

Section 1926.556(b)(2)(ii) requires that "only authorized persons shall operate an aerial lift." The term "authorized person is defined at 1926.32(d) as "a person approved or assigned by the employer to perform a specific type of duty or duties or to be at a specific location or locations at the jobsite." 

Virtual Training

Simulations can help remove unpredictable outcomes. Operator training is a critical component of improving safety and limiting liability for all heavy equipment users, noted Christa Fairchild, product marketing manager, CM Labs Simulations

“Training works best when it is engaging and relatable to the operator’s work situation,” she added. “It’s not enough to be technically proficient; an operator needs to be prepared for real world unpredictability.”

To meet that objective, Fairchild noted, simulation is an excellent tool, in part because it helps ease the transition from theory to practice. 

“With the ability to replicate the worksite environment, equipment response, tasks, and weather conditions, simulators allow trainees to become comfortable with equipment and hazards and make mistakes without costly or dangerous consequences,” she said. “In addition, operator training with simulation prevents novices from developing negative habits from unrealistic training situations, which could potentially cause dangerous problems when operating real equipment.”

Training techniques using simulation can also present a variety of increasingly challenging scenarios and conditions that are not always practical or possible with traditional training methods. 

Seth Skydel is a writer with 38 years of experience covering the trucking, utility, construction, and related markets.


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