Aerial Lifts for Electrical Work: Why Proper Training & Certification Matter

aerial lifts electrical workProfessional electrical work in Oswego, Naperville, Aurora, Yorkville and Plainfield (IL) can involve having to reach and access notable heights, such as when repairing power lines or inspecting high warehouse ceilings.

To do this work, electricians will often use an aerial lift, which is a vehicle-mounted device for elevating personnel. Aerial lifts are also referred to as mobile elevating work platforms. Such devices might include aerial ladders, vertical towers, articulating lifts, telescoping boom lifts and towable boom lifts.

Because of aerial lifts’ flexibility and mobility, many electricians prefer them over ladders and scaffolding. At the same time, by their nature aerial lifts have certain risks, such as:

electrocution. An electrician working with high wires, conductors and power lines can be shocked by contact with them. A shock can also be transferred through the aerial lift itself if it touches a power line and lacks proper insulation.

falls. An electrician can be ejected from the platform while the aerial lift is operating. This can happen particularly if the lift operator isn’t wearing a harness or does not properly hook the harness to the platform. An electrician might also be blown off the platform by strong winds.

entanglements. Because aerial lifts have many moving parts such as chains, cords, pulleys and ropes, operators can become pinched or entangled by them and be injured. Tree branches can create snags as well.

tip-overs. Aerial lifts become less stable as they go higher. Because of this, they can be tipped by holes, inclines or uneven ground.

falling objects. Items such as tools or equipment can drop from an aerial lift platform and land on someone beneath it.

collisions. In some cases a rising platform might collide with an overhead obstruction.

As you can see, the hazards are real. They also can be fatal. The following are several instances of casualties that occurred while someone was operating an aerial lift:

Montana: A 46-year-old man died from injuries he sustained when an aerial lift vehicle in which he was riding tipped over on its side, throwing him from the bucket.

Massachusetts: A municipal electrician and traffic-signal operator died when he fell from a vehicle-mounted aerial lift’s raised bucket. He was at a four-way intersection replacing a traffic-signal bulb when a tractor-trailer driving through the intersection struck the raised bucket, ejecting the man and flinging him 17 feet to the roadway below.

Florida: An aerial lift operator died when the lift malfunctioned and surged forward, crushing the man. A subsequent investigation by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) revealed that he had not worn and attached a fall-protection lanyard to the aerial lift.

Massachusetts: A self-employed electrician died when he struck his head on a steel overhead beam while driving an aerial lift truck in a parking garage where he had been contracted to change the ballasts in light fixtures on the top floor (roof) of the garage.

Even with the safety features included with today’s aerial lifts, operating one in Oswego, Naperville, Aurora, Yorkville or Plainfield still involves risk. In addition to the tragic loss of life, aerial lift violations can result in costly investigations and fines that affect a business’s operations and image. An OSHA fine for a violation can cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. If violations are extreme or recurring, fines can exceed $100,000.

In spite of the potential consequences, some businesses still employ untrained and uncertified personnel to load, unload and operate aerial lift vehicles. These businesses may not be aware of aerial lift guidelines such as:

never ride on the outside of an aerial lift truck

perform a hazard analysis of each work zone that will involve an aerial lift (e.g. look for holes, uneven terrain, slopes, ditches, debris, weather conditions, exposed power lines, overhead obstructions)

bring the proper personal protective equipment to the job site and wear it

pre-inspect the lift before beginning work (e.g. check vehicle components, fluid levels, wheels, tires, guard rails, safety equipment, emergency controls)

What Are the Requirements for Aerial Lift Operators?

OSHA 29 CFR 1926.453(b)(2)(ii) states that “Only authorized persons shall operate an aerial lift.” OSHA standard 1926.21(b)(2) further conveys that employers must instruct each aerial lift worker in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions, as well as in the regulations that apply to the work environment.

Electricians that follow best practices for aerial lift operation will ensure that all operators are trained before they can operate any aerial lift. This includes identifying any level of knowledge or skill that indicates additional training may be needed to ensure safety, as well as recognizing if proper training is not being followed.

The OSHA standard does not mention specific training criteria, but the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has aerial lift training guidelines that OSHA will refer to in evaluating if a company’s aerial lift training program is sufficient.

ANSI A92.5-2006 for boom-supported lifts and A92.6-2006 for self-propelled lifts identifies training standards including:

  • purpose, use and storage of operator manuals
  • how to conduct a pre-start aerial lift inspection
  • responsibilities for operational problems or failures
  • factors that can affect an aerial lift’s stability
  • purpose of placards and decals
  • how to inspect the job site for hazards
  • safety rules and regulations
  • warnings and instructions for operators

Proper training for aerial lift operation must also be reinforced by certification that identifies the operator has attained the correct knowledge and skill. Employees cannot legally operate aerial lifts without this training and certification, and recertification is required every three years.

Professional Electricians & Certified Aerial Lift Operators

Providing skilled electrical work for Oswego, Naperville, Aurora, Yorkville and Plainfield (IL) includes having licensed, bonded and ensured electricians who are also certified in operating aerial lifts. To further discuss our residential and commercial electrical service, including our aerial lift–operation qualifications, simply give us a call at (630) 499-1492.

We also provide electrical service with certified aerial lift operation for local communities such as Geneva, Batavia, Sugar Grove, North Aurora, Montgomery, Sandwich and Plano.

Trinity Electrical Services is Master Electrician certified.
24-hour emergency service and 1-hour emergency response time are available.


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