Boom lifts have picked up many nicknames over the years. Aerial lift, cherry picker, bucket truck, vehicle-mounted rotating and elevating platform. But what exactly is a boom lift? In this post, we’ll explain everything you need to know about boom lifts. We’ll tell you what a boom lift is and explain the different types available for rental or purchase. We will also answer some important questions customers have about boom lifts and provide you with some safety tips when working with these heavy machines.
What is a Boom Lift?
Boom lifts are types of aerial platforms that allow access to high places. A jointed crane attaches the grounded base to a platform on which a person must stand while working. Some people call this platform a “bucket.” Boom lifts may also be mounted on a truck or van. In general, people use boom lifts to reach up and over obstructions, like trees, smaller buildings, fences, or walls. In the construction industry, we categorize boom lifts into three groups: telescopic, articulating, and trailer-mounted.
Telescopic Boom Lifts
Telescopic boom lifts (sometimes called “stick” booms) have large horizontal reach. This makes them ideal for areas with limited access. They can extend up to about 120 feet telescopically at any angle. They are commonly used in construction sites, since they are better suited in accessing the upper stories of the structure.
You should consider a telescopic boom lift if:
- The terrain or obstacles prevent close access to the area
- The worksite is rugged and you need maximum traction
- You want to maximize productivity
Articulating Boom Lifts
The second main category of boom lifts available for rental are articulating boom lifts. These differ from telescopic lifts in that they have joints or knuckles in the arm. The knuckles allow them to bend in a number of ways, making them ideal for accessing the hard-to-reach areas. These types of boom lifts have less horizontal reach, but greater versatility in reaching those high places. Articulating boom lifts can be found mostly in industrial zones, ship yards, and commercial projects.
You should consider renting an articulating boom lift if:
- The work area is confined or narrow
- Obstacles are in your way
- The project is indoors
- You have to travel over rough terrain
- You need extra reach from the platform
Trailer-Mounted Boom lifts
Trailer-mounted boom lifts (aka towable boom lifts) are more easily movable than their boom lift counterparts. They look similar to articulating boom lifts, but do not come on a mounted base. Instead, they have a hitch that attaches to a truck or van. Moving a standard boom lift from job to job can be costly, which makes trailer-mounted lifts more appealing to many. They can reach over 50 feet. Many customers consider these lifts low maintenance compared to the telescopic and articulating boom lifts.
Top Questions About Boom Lift Rentals
Customers always have questions. This is normal. After all, who wouldn’t want to know everything they can about a rental or purchase that’s going to be quite the investment? In this section, we address the questions we have heard the most from customers.
Question 1: Is there any guarantee the boom lift will work correctly?
Almost every boom lift rental in the tri-state area offers a guarantee that their equipment will operate as expected for the duration of the lift rental agreement. For long-term leases, they may require you to sign a service agreement to cover any repairs and maintenance needed. When you obtain a price quote from the company, be sure to ask about the operational guarantee and who’s liable for the equipment should anything break or need maintenance.
Question 2: What happens if the lift breaks down?
The rental company will handle repairs and maintenance based on the extent of servicing needed. For minor problems, most typically send out a technician to your location and have the equipment repaired in a few hours. If the machine needs extensive repair, they will most likely deliver a new lift and take back the broken machine for repairs. Their main goal is to make sure you don’t face a major inconvenience or downtime.
Question 3: How soon can boom lifts be delivered?
Most companies can have them delivered within one or two days. In rare cases, there may not be any boom lifts available. We recommend you call beforehand to reserve the equipment you need, and schedule the delivery time weeks in advance.
Essential Safety Tips When Working with Boom Lifts
Boom lifts are handy to have in the work site, but like any heavy machinery, they can be dangerous. Keep in mind that one of the workers will be high in the air, and any mishandling or equipment failure can be deadly. Here are a few safety tips everyone should know when working with a boom lift:
Tip 1: Know the Machine
Safety begins with knowing the lift well. Before you rent, ask for some details about the lift, what it is and isn’t certified to do. Find out as much as you can. The weight limit, insurance coverage, the whole nine yards. Make sure that your operator is properly licensed and thoroughly understands the machine.
A couple things to remember. Not all boom lifts are designed to move while the worker is in the basket. And don’t forget that weight limit doesn’t just apply to the person(s) in the basket, but the materials and tools as well.
Tip 2: Get the Proper Safety Equipment
Before any crew member climbs onto the lift, they should be wearing the proper harness for the job. The harness should be connected to the anchor points of the basket. While most of the boom lift rental Pittsburgh PA services come with the correct gear, it’s always good to check and ask for a refresher course on how they should be used. Anyone that will be getting into the lift should be aware of how to put on the harness, where the anchor points on the baskets are, and how to attach a safety line.
In case you find yourself in a situation where there’s a slight incline, ensure that you’re using the wheel chocks and that the brakes are set. Before sending up the basket, confirm that the brakes are working, and give the lift a test run.
Always Treat the Wires Like They Are Live
The misuse of lifts around powerlines in one of the most common accidents with boom lifts. So, even if your project has nothing to do with electrical work, the contractor could be caught by surprise to find so many electrical wires up above. It’s recommended that you stay at least 10 feet from any wires. Anyone who gets into the basket should treat any electrical wires they come across as though they’re live. Failure to follow such simple rules might put everyone else at risk.
The most powerful safety equipment that everyone on the site has is their brains and their sense. Ensure that before someone enters the boom lift, everyone know all the correct signals to lift and lower the basket. The person inside should also keep their legs and arms within it. Also make it clear that if anyone comes across any problem whatsoever, they should stop and double-check everything.
Remind them that not only are they responsible for their own safety, but also the safety of everyone else. Have the crew understand that if they take a risk, everyone else in the crew will be taking a risk. It should also be emphasized that in most cases, the difference between using the boom lift safely and unsafely is just thinking before hitting the switch.