Conducting Your Annual Lift Inspection

An aerial lift is a vehicle-mounted device used to elevate construction or utility workers. It could be a scissor lift, man lift, or boom lift. These machines can serve as a convenient alternative to ladders, as they are much more dynamic and can be used in a variety of settings.

In this article, we’ll go over what an annual lift inspection is, why it’s important, what it involves, and more. Let’s get started!

What Is an Annual Aerial Lift Inspection?

An annual lift inspection is a yearly maintenance exercise in which a qualified operator makes sure that an aerial lift is working properly. This also allows for any potential issues to be repaired. If the machine is deemed unsafe to operate, it will be set aside until it is fixed.


Why Perform Annual Aerial Lift Inspections?

Here are some of the many reasons owners should have their aerial lifts inspected every year:

Regulatory Requirements

For one, annual aerial lift inspections are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA adopts most of its aerial lift inspection requirements from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

ANSI requires that the annual inspection occur no later than 13 months from the date of the most recent yearly assessment (you can check the date posted on the lift to see when the last inspection occurred).

In addition, all aerial lift inspections must be performed by a “competent” person according to the manufacturer’s guidelines (check the aerial lift’s owner manual to find the manufacturer’s recommended inspection guidelines). A competent person is someone capable of inspecting the machine and identifying existing and predictable hazards on the worksite. They must also have authority to remove hazards and take prompt corrective measures.

If the inspector identifies any issues with the aerial lift or the worksite, operations must pause until the issue(s) is fixed. In some cases, that might mean taking the aerial lift out of commission until it is repaired.

Worker and Pedestrian Safety

Another reason to perform annual aerial lift inspections is worker safety.

According to the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), an average of 26 construction workers die each year from using aerial lifts. This accounts for 2% to 3% of all construction deaths. Major causes of deaths related to aerial lifts include falls, electrocutions, and collapses or tipovers.

If the aerial lift is operating near pedestrians (e.g. in the city), pedestrians may also be at risk (albeit usually a lesser risk since they are not directly involved on the worksite).

By performing annual aerial lift inspections, you help ensure that the machine will operate properly and not cause a major accident.

Equipment Maintenance

Proper equipment maintenance is another reason to perform annual aerial lift inspections.

A thorough inspection can alert you to low fluid levels or a malfunctioning engine, for example. From there, you can quickly respond to these issues before they lead to costly equipment failures later on. This way, your aerial lifts will last longer and require less repairs overall.

In order to maintain a highly efficient warehouse or industrial facility, you need to ensure that your equipment is running properly throughout the year. Explore our blog to learn more about extending the lifespan of your industrial equipment.

What an Annual Lift Inspection Involves

A proper annual aerial lift inspection involves three parts: a visual inspection, a function test, and a work zone inspection. Let’s go over each aerial lift annual inspection requirement in more detail:

Visual Inspection

The visual inspection is a preliminary check of the aerial lift itself. It includes checking fluid levels and ensuring there are no leaks. This goes for the engine oil, battery fluid, coolant, and more.

The visual inspection also involves checking the wheels, tires, electrical wires and cables, battery levels (for electric models), safety rails and gates, and all other structural components.

Basically, you want to make sure that the aerial lift looks good from the outside.

Function Test

The function test is your opportunity to make sure all the internal aerial lift functions work as intended. It involves testing all the controls and mechanisms of the vehicle (ground control testing) and of the attached platform (platform control testing).

For example, you want to make sure that the power shut-off button, the up and down controls, and the horn all work properly.

By checking each individual feature, you significantly reduce the risk of a malfunction occurring on the job.

Work Zone Inspection

Lastly, the work zone inspection is meant to clear the work area of any potential hazards.

At this stage of your annual lift inspection, you should walk around the worksite to identify any holes, unstable surfaces, inadequate ceiling heights, debris, and other obstacles.

The work zone inspection also involves checking weather conditions and ensuring no unauthorized personnel are onsite. If possible, try to remove or eliminate these hazards so that the aerial lift can operate safely and freely.

Though often neglected, the work zone inspection is a critical part of the overall aerial lift inspection that you can’t afford to skip.

Sample Aerial Lift Inspection Checklist Items

To get an idea of what an annual lift inspection checklist might look like, here are the inspection checklist items aerial lift manufacturer JLG recommends for checking the functions and controls of a boom lift:

  • All controls return to neutral/off position when released
  • Detents properly lock controls in neutral/off position. Condition of control enclosures and protective boots/guards should also be checked
  • Footswitch operates properly, including that it shuts off function when released
  • Emergency stop switches at the ground and platform control stations arrest all platform movement
  • All function and speed cut-outs operate properly
  • Manual descent system and/or auxiliary power system operates properly
  • Tower boom synchronization and sequence system operates properly
  • Capacity indicator system operates properly
  • Brakes operate properly, including swing and drive
  • Machine controls operate properly at platform and ground control stations, including lift, swing drive, telescopic and so on

Create your own checklist and include the inspection of areas like platform assembly, boom assembly, turntable, chassis, power system, hydraulic/electrical system, manuals & decals, and other general items.


Wrapping Up

Annual lift inspections are an important owner responsibility. If you don’t take the initiative to perform them on a regular yearly cycle, your regulatory compliance, worker safety, and equipment will suffer.

If you haven’t already, implement annual lift inspections into your business today!

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