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Aerial and Scissor Lift Safety

UTK Environmental Health & Safety Program GS-135

The purpose of this procedure is to provide guidance for proper use of both aerial lifts and scissor lifts.

Effective Date: 10/02/2017
Revision Date: 10/02/2017

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Aerial/scissor lifts pose a serious safety hazard if not used properly. It is the policy of the University of Tennessee Knoxville campus to train employees on the hazards of operating aerial/scissor lifts and to ensure such equipment is safely maintained.

This program has been established to:

  • Ensure the safe operation of aerial and scissor lifts.
  • Ensure that work units understand and comply with safety standards related to aerial/scissor lifts.
  • Assign responsibilities to personnel which are necessary for successful implementation.

Scope and Applicability

  • This program applies to all employees at all UTK locations.
  • This program covers every type of aerial/scissor lift used by UTK employees.

Abbreviations and Definitions


EHS: Environmental Health and Safety

OSHA:  Occupational Safety and Health Administration


Aerial Lifts: Any powered, mobile, vehicle-mounted device that may elevate, telescopically extend, articulate and may (or may not) rotate around a substantial axis in order to raise and support personnel to elevated job sites.

Aerial lifts include extendible boom platforms; vehicle-mounted aerial ladders; articulating, rotating boom platforms; vertical self-elevating towers; cherry pickers; bucket trucks and any other equipment built in accordance with either ANSI-A92.2 (1990), Vehicle-Mounted Elevating and Rotating Aerial Devices, or ANSI-A92.5 (1992), Boom Supported Elevating Work Platforms.

Scissor Lifts: Any powered, mobile device that has a personnel work platform which is mechanically raised vertically above the carriage by means of controls on the work platform.  This equipment is designed and fabricated according to either ANSI-A92.6 (1990), Self-Propelled Elevating Work Platforms, or ANSI-A92.3 (1990), Manually Propelled Elevating Aerial Platforms.

Anchorage: A secure point of attachment to be used with personal fall protection equipment.

Certified Operator: Certification of aerial/scissor lift operators at UTK is a three- step process consisting of classroom instruction, hands-on training and hands-on evaluation. Once the employee has successfully completed all three steps they are considered to be a certified operator.

Competent Trainer: An employee who has successfully completed a Train–the– Trainer or equivalent type of training program and is familiar with the type of aerial/scissor lift in their work unit. A contractor or equipment vendor who has experience training aerial/scissor lift safety and operation and is familiar with the equipment is also permitted to be a Competent Trainer.

Competent Evaluator (Hands-on): An employee in the department/work unit who is experienced and competent with the aerial/scissor lift. An employee must be familiar with the equipment and its safe operation. In order to be considered competent in regard to conducting the evaluation portion of the aerial/scissor lift training, an employee must have successfully completed the classroom portion of aerial/scissor lift training. This employee could be but is not limited to a certified operator, supervisor/manager or safety officer.

Familiarization: Providing information regarding the control functions and safety devices for the aerial /scissor lift to an operator of the equipment.

Insulated Platform: A platform designed and tested to meet the specific electrical insulation ratings consistent with the manufacturer’s identification plate.

Outriggers: Devices that increase the stability of the aerial lift platform and that are capable of lifting and leveling the aerial/scissor lift platform.

Rated Work Load: The designated capacity of the aerial platform as specified by the manufacturer.

Stabilizers: Devices that increase the stability of the aerial lift platform but are not capable of lifting or leveling the aerial/scissor lift platform.

Roles and Responsibilities

Environmental Health and Safety shall:

  • Assist work units in implementing the provisions of this program.
  • Approve aerial/scissor lift trainers.
  • Periodically review and update this written program.
  • Periodically evaluate the overall effectiveness of this program.

Supervisors shall:

  • Be thoroughly informed of the contents of this program and its application to their areas of responsibility and authority.
  • Ensure employees comply with all provisions of this program.
  • Ensure employees receive training appropriate to their assigned tasks and maintain documentation of such training.
  • Ensure employees are provided with and use appropriate protective equipment.
  • Take prompt corrective action when unsafe conditions or practices are observed.
  • Investigate injuries and incidents within their work unit related to aerial/scissor lift usage.

Employees who use aerial and scissor lifts shall:

  • Follow the work practices described in this program, including the use of appropriate protective equipment.
  • Attend all training required by this program.
  • Immediately report any unsafe conditions or concerns related to aerial/scissor lift safety to their supervisor


General Requirements:

  • Operators shall review and follow the manufacturer’s operating manual. A copy of the manual must be located on the equipment.
  • Only certified operators shall operate an aerial/scissor lift.
  • Operators shall follow safe work practices when operating an aerial/scissor lift; a list of common safe work practices are summarized in Appendix F.

Pre-Use Inspections (i.e. Frequent Inspections):

  • Every aerial/scissor lift must undergo a pre-use inspection each first time use, daily, and prior to use (each shift).
  • The criteria for pre-use inspections includes: checking for visual damage, ensuring controls are clearly marked; safety devices are functional (including alarms); and a test of range of capabilities must be conducted.
  • Pre-use inspections should be documented using an appropriate checklist for the aerial/scissor lift similar to the one in Appendix A. Refer to the manufacturer’s inspection requirements for complete inspection details.
  • Completed checklists will be kept on file for a period not less than a year.
  • The pre-use inspection will identify conditions that could affect the safe use of the aerial/scissor lifts. If any unsafe conditions exist, the aerial/scissor lift shall be removed from service. To remove an aerial/scissor lift from service, the operator shall remove the keys and place an “Out of Service” tag near the operator control panel.
  • Operators must immediately report any unsafe aerial/scissor lift conditions to their supervisor. When an aerial/scissor lift has been removed from service, the operator must give the keys to the supervisor for safekeeping. The supervisor is then responsible for ensuring the necessary arrangements are made for repair.
  • Only authorized personnel shall perform aerial/scissor lift repairs and adjustments. All replacement parts shall be the same design as the original or an equivalent design as designated by the manufacturer.

Periodic Inspections:

  • Annual inspections must be performed by a person qualified as a mechanic on the specific type of aerial platform, or one having similar design characteristics.
  • The inspections must be performed no later than thirteen (13) months from the date of the prior annual inspection.
  • Aerial lifts must be labeled when the periodic inspection was performed or when the next periodic inspection is due.
  • Documentation of periodic inspections must be maintained for 5 years.

Personal Protective Equipment:

Fall protection equipment must be used as follows when operating aerial/scissor lifts:

  • Operators shall be secured to the anchor point provided by the equipment manufacturer by either a self-retracting lanyard or by a lanyard short enough to prevent the employee from being ejected.
  • Operators must follow manufacturer’s recommendations as to which fall protection system to use.
  • Scissor lift – The guardrail system provides fall protection. If the manufacturer has installed an anchorage point, a fall protection system (restraint, positioning, personal fall arrest system) as designated by the manufacturer’s instructions must be utilized.
  • Tying a lanyard off to an adjacent pole, structure, or equipment while working from an aerial lift shall not be permitted.
  • Other types of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as head, eye and hand protection, shall be worn according to the task specific personal protective equipment hazard assessment.

Training and Information

Training must be completed prior to any use of the aerial/scissor lift. Certification of aerial/scissor lift operators at UTK is a three-step process consisting of classroom instruction, hands-on training and hands-on evaluation.

Classroom instruction, hands-on training and hands-on evaluation can be conducted by either a competent trainer in the work unit, equipment manufacturer, safety consultant and/or a vendor who specializes in aerial/scissor lift training.

Hands-on training and hands-on evaluation portions of the training can also be conducted by an employee in the department/work unit who is experienced and competent with the aerial/scissor lift. This person could be a certified operator, supervisor/manager or safety officer. EHS must approve trainers. Training must be specific to the type of aerial/scissor lift being used.

Training must cover the following:

  • The purpose and use of the equipment manuals.
  • That operating manuals are an integral part of the lift and must be properly stored on the vehicle.
  • A pre-start inspection.
  • Responsibilities associated with problems or malfunctions affecting the operation of the lift.
  • Factors affecting stability.
  • The purpose of placards and decals.
  • Workplace inspection.
  • Applicable safety rules and regulations.
  • Authorization to operate.
  • Operator warnings and instructions.
  • Proper use of personal fall protection equipment.
  • Hands-on operation.

Employees shall not be allowed to operate rented equipment unless they have been previously certified on similar equipment. Operators are also required to review the owner’s manual and shall be given ample time to become familiar with the equipment and its controls before operation is permitted. The vendor is required to review equipment with the user when the user is not familiar with the type of aerial/scissor lift.

Trainees must successfully complete hands-on training and a hands-on evaluation before being allowed to operate an aerial/scissor lift independently. Trainees will be given adequate supervision and time to learn basic operating skills.

Initial operator hands-on evaluations must be completed using the checklist found in Appendix D or equivalent.

Documented re-evaluation of each aerial/scissor lift operator will be completed at least once every three years using Appendix D or equivalent.

Re-evaluations can be conducted by an employee in the department/work unit who is experienced and competent with the aerial/scissor lift. This person could be a certified operator, Supervisor/Manager or safety officer.

Refresher training

Refresher training in relevant topics will be provided to an aerial/scissor lift operator when any of the following occur:

  • The operator has been observed to be using the aerial/scissor lift in an unsafe manner.
  • The operator has been involved in an accident or a near-miss incident.
  • The operator has received an evaluation that reveals the operator is not using the aerial/scissor lift safely.
  • The operator is assigned to operate a different type of equipment.
  • A condition in the workplace changes in a manner that could affect safe operation of the equipment.


  • The manufacturer’s instructions regarding maintenance must be followed. (Such instructions are typically included in the owner’s manual for the aerial/scissor lifts).
  • An annual inspection is required and must be conducted by an authorized person qualified as a mechanic on the type of aerial/scissor lift or one having similar design characteristics.
  • Any aerial/scissor lift with an identified safety issue will be immediately removed from service.
  • Maintenance performed by certified aerial/scissor lift operators will be limited to replacing/disconnecting/connecting batteries, changing fuel cylinders, adding water to batteries, replacing light bulbs and replacing stickers and decals.
  • No aerial/scissor lift with a leak in the fuel system will be operated until the leak has been eliminated. Repairs to the fuel and ignition system that involve fire hazards will be conducted in a location (non-flammable) designated for such repairs.
  • Any aerial/scissor that emits hazardous sparks or flames from the exhaust system will be immediately removed from service and not returned to service until the cause has been eliminated.
  • Only replacement parts equivalent to the original parts are to be used.


Each work unit is responsible for maintaining the following records in order to meet the requirements of this program:

  • A listing of all aerial/scissor lifts owned by the work unit.
  • A record of training which includes: (Use Appendix C or equivalent)
    • Name of operator.
    • Date of classroom training.
    • Date of hands-on training.
    • Date of hands-on evaluation.
  • Identity of the person(s) performing the training and/or evaluation.
    • Make and model of aerial/scissor lift.
    • Copies of all pre-use inspection records for one year after completion.
    • Copies of annual inspection records for at least four years.
    • Copies of repair records for at least four years.
    • EHS is responsible for maintaining the following records in order to meet the requirements of this program:
  • EHS will retain training records for training they have provided indefinitely.

Contract Employees

Contractors are required to follow all applicable OSHA regulations and manufacturer’s instructions.



The information provided in these guidelines is designed for educational use only and is not a substitute for specific training or experience.

The University of Tennessee Knoxville and the authors of these guidelines assume no liability for any individual’s use of or reliance upon any material contained or referenced herein. The material contained in these guidelines may not be the most current.

This material may be freely distributed for nonprofit educational use. However, if included in publications, written or electronic, attributions must be made to the author. Commercial use of this material is prohibited without express written permission from the author.

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