Boom lifts have picked up many nicknames over the years. Aerial lift, cherry picker, bucket truck…and many more. In this ultimate guide, we tell you everything you need to know about boom lift rentals. We explain what a boom lift is, discuss the different types available for rent/purchase, answer important questions customers ask about boom lifts, and give you safety tips when working with these heavy machines.
What is a Boom Lift?
A boom lift is a type of aerial platform that allows access to high places. A person stands on a platform connected to a base via a jointed crane. Some people call this platform a “bucket,” hence the nicknames “bucket lift” and “bucket truck”. Boom lifts can be grounded or mounted on a truck/van.
In general, people use boom lifts to reach up and over things like trees, smaller buildings, fences, or walls. In the construction industry, we categorize boom lifts into three groups: telescopic, articulating, and trailer-mounted.
1. Telescopic boom lifts
Telescopic boom lifts (aka “stick” booms) have large horizontal reach. This makes them ideal for areas with limited access, because they can extend up to about 120 feet at any angle. You should consider renting or purchasing 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
2. Articulating boom lifts
Unlike telescopic boom lifts, articulating booms 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 lifts) are more easily movable than their boom lift counterparts. They look similar to articulating lifts, but don’t come on a mounted base. Instead, they have a hitch that attaches to a truck or van, and they can reach over 50 feet. Moving a standard boom lift from job to job can be costly, which makes trailer-mounted lifts more appealing to many of our past clients. Many customers also consider them low maintenance compared to telescopic and articulating lifts.
Top Customer Questions
Customers always have questions for us. This is understandable. 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 most from our clients.
Q1: How do I know the lift will work properly?
Most companies offer a guarantee that their equipment will operate as expected for the duration of the rental agreement. For long-term leases, you may have to sign a service agreement to cover any needed repairs and maintenance. When you get a quote from the company, remember to ask about this and who’s liable for the equipment should anything happen.
Q2. What happens if my lift breaks down?
The rental company will usually handle repairs and maintenance. For minor problems, most 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.
Q3. How soon can a boom lift rental be delivered?
Most companies can have them delivered within one or two days. In rare cases, though, they may not have any boom lifts available. We recommend calling beforehand to reserve what you need, and schedule the delivery weeks in advance.
Essential Safety Tips
Boom lifts are handy to have at your 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 rental:
1. Know the machine well
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 your operator is properly licensed and thoroughly understands the machine.
Not all boom lifts 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 proper safety equipment
Before any crew member climbs onto the lift, they should be wearing the proper harness. The harness should connect to the anchor points of the basket. While most rentals come with proper gear, it’s always good to check and ask for a refresher course on how everything should be used. Anyone getting into the lift should know how to put on the harness, where the anchor points are, and how to attach a safety line.
If you find yourself in a situation with a slight incline, make sure you’re using the wheel chocks and the brakes are set. Before sending up the basket, confirm the brakes are working, and give the lift a test run.
Tip 3: Always treat wires like they’re live
Anyone who gets into the basket should treat any electrical wires they come across as though they’re live. The misuse of lifts around power lines can lead to accidents if you aren’t careful. Even if your project has nothing to do with electrical work, you may have electrical wires up above your machine. We recommend you stay at least 10 feet away from any wires.
Tip 4: Use common sense
The most powerful safety tool everyone has is their common sense. Here are a few things your common sense should tell you:
- Before someone enters the boom lift, make sure everyone knows all the correct signals to lift and lower the basket.
- The person inside should keep their legs and arms within it.
- If anyone comes across any problem whatsoever, they should stop and double-check everything.
Remind everyone that not only are they responsible for their own safety, but also the safety of everyone else. Make sure the crew understands if they take a risk, everyone else will be taking that risk along with them.
Boom lifts are incredibly useful machines to have at your job site. Before you rent or purchase one, make sure you chat with experts to figure out which machine best fits your project. Then, stay safe! Use your common sense, and prepare beforehand to avoid as many potential accidents as you can.