An estimated 250,000 workers use aerial lifts such as cherry pickers and bucket trucks each year, putting them at risk for falls, electrocution and a list of other possible injuries. The majority of these workers are in the construction, painting or utility industries. To prevent accidents while working on aerial lift equipment, it is important that employers are vigilant in ensuring that all safety precautions are being implemented.
Aerial Lift Injures
There are always fall risks when working at elevated levels. Anyone working on a cherry picker or bucket truck has the risk of falling, but there are many other hazards as well. Since these devices are often attached to vehicles, they are mobile and have the risk of moving or being hit by other moving vehicles and are often in many different locations. Some common causes of injuries and fatalities are:
- Falling from lift. From boom-supported lifts like cherry pickers and bucket trucks, 50% of falls are due to being ejected from the lift. This can be caused by impact from hitting or being hit by other vehicles or objects, sudden jerking motions or from falling objects.
- Electrocution. Many injuries and fatalities working on aerial lifts are due to coming in contact with power lines. This can be from workers that maintain the power lines or construction lifts that inadvertently hit power lines.
- Tip-over. If improper weights are in lifts, the truck is moved or the vehicle is not stable while using a lift, there can be tip-over accidents. These accidents can lead to fractures, internal crushing and fall injuries.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011 there were 39 fatalities directly blamed on elevating devices such as cherry pickers and aerial lifts that were not truck mounted. Another 66 fatalities were directly attributed to truck mounted lifts. Another 34 fatalities listed these types of equipment as the secondary cause of death in workers. In addition, there are also fatalities from electrocution while using an elevating device, but these are not included in these numbers.
There are several industries that are at high risk for aerial lift fatalities and injuries. According to the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health, electricians are at the highest risk. Construction workers, electrical and power installers, painters and carpenters follow them as other high risk professions that have large injury and fatality rates from aerial lifts.
Preventing Aerial Lift Injuries
Aerial lifts have similar risks as cranes and other elevated work equipment but have the additional element of also being mobile. This makes using all safety precautions even more crucial as there are outside influences these workers may have to contend with. Precautions that should be used are:
- Equipment inspection. All equipment on the lifts should be inspected before use to make sure it is working correctly to prevent jerking and mechanical failure.
- Work site safety. Cherry pickers and bucket trucks need to be parked on a level, stable surface and have emergency brake set; never move truck with anyone in the lift. Be aware of wind elements that can cause dangerous lift conditions.
- Stable loads. All weight requirements should be adhered to as well as not using lift for uneven loads.
- Safe loads. Within the weight parameters set forth be the product manufacturer
- Wear safety equipment. The use of harnesses, hard hats and other safety equipment should always be maintained.
Aerial lifts are needed to perform many jobs and are quicker and safer than using ladders and other lifting devices. However, there are many risks both from the job itself and outside factors. Any industry using these devices needs to take the proper safety precautions to ensure their workers are being protected.
Aerial Lift Accident Attorneys Illinois
Very few attorneys have experience litigating accidents involving bucket trucks (cherry picker) accidents. At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers we have successfully prosecuted aerial lift accidents for injured people involving: defective products, negligent operation and inadequate maintenance. In most cases, we have successfully recovered damages for our clients, based upon:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Funeral costs
- Compensation for pain and disability