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Part 1: Effective Training Program Essential Before Using Aerial Lifts
By Thomas A. Westerkamp
August 2013 -
Equipment Rental & Tools Article Use Policy
Whether maintenance and engineering managers opt to rent, lease or purchase aerial work platforms, the front-line technicians who will operate a specific piece of equipment must be familiar with its features, functions and limitations. Proper training ensures technicians can complete their tasks efficiently, cost-effectively, and safely.
By understanding training options and by carefully assessing users' training needs, managers can make smarter decisions that enhance productivity and boost safety. And whether managers rent, lease, or buy new or used aerial lift platforms, they must make decisions that ensure a return on the department's investment.
The smartest approach is for managers to arrange for training on specific aerial work platforms, whether it is a scissor lift, a telescoping boom lift, or a telehandler. Each unit is built differently and designed for different uses, so technicians need to know how to operate and maintain each unit accordingly.
Scissor lifts. Online scissor lift operation, ground support, and safety training courses are offered in multiple languages and can be competed in two hours. Since there is no restriction on the amount of time a person takes, managers can buy any number of courses at one time to earn quantity discounts. The courses explain applicable regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), covers hazards identification and avoidance, and contain practical and safe work habits. Topics covered include: hazards, such as moving when elevated; uneven terrain operation; fall prevention and protection; overloading and overextension; electrical hazards; bad-weather operation; inspection guidelines; and general safety topics applied to all operators.
Boom lifts. As with the other classes, training on boom-lift operation is specific to each manufacturer's equipment. Training for both operators and ground support personnel is available. Service technicians who will service and repair equipment also can take part in a ground support training course. Prerequisites for the service technician training are: six months of aerial work platform experience; basic hydraulic and electric courses; technical fundamentals course; complete working knowledge of the digital volt ohmmeter; and hydraulic pressure gage operation.
One manufacturer's course on boom lifts covers: hydraulic and electrical systems; troubleshooting; proper procedures for hydraulic pressure checks; unique boom lift operating characteristics; understanding advanced electronic systems; proper use of a proprietary diagnostic analyzer; and recommended maintenance tasks and frequencies.
Telehandlers. The excellent versatility of the telehandler requires equally comprehensive training. Operators and ground support technicians need extensive hand-signal training because they often work as a team. They need to understand work-site dangers and such features as foam tires, front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and sideways drive. They also need to know how to operate over potholes and irregular terrain.
Training includes operation and maintenance of a array of accessories that include a heated and air conditioned cab, telescoping boom, personnel platform, coil handler, pipe and structural handler, bale handler, bucket attachment, forks, side-shift stabilizers, and hydraulic outriggers. These courses focus on safety, but they also provide many operating tips and best practices that can improve productivity.
Managers also should consider the need for operation and maintenance retraining of key personnel. Three conditions should trigger retraining — the presence of new workplace hazards, new equipment or accessories with different and unfamiliar features, and more than three years since the last training exposure.
Part 2: In-House Training and Certification Best Options for Aerial Lifts
Part 3: Daily Reminders Ensure Emphasis on Safety Continues