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Man Lift Safety Procedures

A man lift is a special type of hydraulic platform, or aerial lift, designed to hoist one person up and down vertically. It's also known as a vertical personnel lift, and is used in a variety of industries for a wide array of purposes. While quite useful, man lifts can be dangerous. There are some standard safety procedures that should be observed when operating one.

Get Proper Training

Before using a man lift, read all manuals available for the machine. Observe someone operating the lift a few times before ever attempting to use it. Once the observations and reading are complete, participate in any necessary training. In order to operate a man lift, most companies require training with a qualified operator. The training program should include information on the nature of hazards in operating the lift; precautions for dealing with hazards; information on the rated load capacity, including workers and materials; manufacturer operating requirements; and demonstration of skill and knowledge in using the lift properly.

Check the Surrounding Area

Before operating a man lift, check the area in which it will be used. Make sure the operating surface is level. Also look for ground and aerial hazards such as holes, bumps, debris and overhead power lines.

Check the Man Lift Itself

Before using a man lift, there are certain things to check and look for to ensure safe operation. Check the operating and emergency controls to make sure they are in working order. Locate safety devices ahead of time in order to be prepared in case of an emergency. Also look for leaks or missing parts.

Operating the Man Lift

To safely operate a man lift, be sure to always close platform chains or doors. Do not climb on or lean over guardrails, and do not exceed the manufacturer's load limits. A harness or safety belt, determined by the type of lift, and proper anchorage is required by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), so be sure to use any mandatory safety devices.

Be Aware of Potential Hazards

Know the potential safety hazards involved with the equipment in order to watch for them. Man-lift accidents can involve electrocutions caused by overhead power lines, falls while working or transferring into the bucket, equipment collapses or tip-overs, workers getting caught in between the bucket edge and a roof hoist or beam, or workers being struck by falling materials. Knowledgeable vigilance can help keep the workplace safe.


Kendall Olsen has been writing for more than 20 years She is a University of Missouri-St. Louis Gateway Writing Project Fellow and has published instructional materials with the McDonald Publishing Company. Olsen holds an Ed.S. in educational technology, an M.Ed. in secondary English curriculum and instruction, a B.S. in elementary education and a B.A. in art history.