Skyjack Lifts | Aerial Lift Basics

Possessing a basic knowledge of aerial and skyjack lifts can enable you to make a smart business decision regarding which lift is ideal for getting your job done. Sometimes ladders alone just can’t get the job done or are too dangerous. Aerial lifts, with their secure platforms and high extension can get you to great heights in a safe matter (as long as you exercise proper safety precautions, of course).

There are also a variety of lifts to choose from in order to get the job done. Before choosing one for yourself, you must understand the differences between different lifts, as well as considering the safety issues involved. It also helps to shop with multiple manufacturers for the best deal.

It’s important to know the differences between different aerial lifts mainly because you need to know what fits your business needs. If you work in a warehouse, for instance, a scissor lift might be your best bet, while doing any outdoor maintenance may require a more rugged boom lift. Here is a basic glossary of different types:

  • Boom lifts have high-extension arms with baskets on the end, which allows a worker to reach a high place. They’re also known as cherry pickers. Some of them may have joints or hinges that allow it more flexibility.
  • A scissor lift has a wider, stable base platform to move not only workers, but heavy materials.

When comparing different manufacturers of skyjack lifts, it’s important to consider different facets of the job you need to perform. What’s the maximum height you believe you need? Weigh capacity? And what price fits your budget? You may also need to consider paying more for a domestically made machine. If your lift is foreign-made and it needs repairs, a technician may have to fly in from Europe or Asia to work on your machine.

Another important aspect of aerial lifts – if not the most important – is safety measures. The basket of an aerial lift is usually already surrounded by railings or a cage for the very purpose of safety. Nonetheless, employers using an aerial lift must cohere to the safety regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute. You should understand that operating aerial lift, while safer than ladders or other measures of reaching high elevations, can in itself also be dangerous and can injury or even death if not used correctly.

Training is required for all boom lift operators. Some manufacturers will include training courses in the price of the lift. Safety training for aerial lifts, according to OSHA, should include:

  • How to recognize an unsafe working environment around the lift
  • How to handle any unsafe aspects of your environment
  • How and when to perform inspections on the lift
  • How to identify specific hazards such as ditches, drop-offs and other unstable surfaces
  • How to avoid obstructions, both from overhead and from debris below
  • In what weather conditions to avoid working on an aerial lift
  • How to identify unsafe working environments for your lift
  • How to properly prepare and harness oneself when operating a lift

An employee may require retraining if an accident occurs while using a lift, or if work hazards are found. If employers see workers not using the lift properly, the employer must retrain them.

Once you nail down the basics, you’ll be able to find the right aerial lift for your business.


For more information on any of our products call Curt Blank at ATAL today (559) 225-8000 or E-mail


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