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Boom Lift Basics

Nov. 03, 2021

Boom lifts have been a popular piece of equipment on construction sites for many years. The versatility of the lifts makes them an excellent choice for many tasks that need to be done at ground level. However, workers need special training to operate this type of aerial lift. To ensure safety on the job site, boom lift operators must be certified by a reliable source. Find out more about boom lift certification and training requirements to ensure worker safety.


Boom lift basics

To understand why boom lift certification is so important, it helps to know the basics of how the equipment works. Also known as a cherry picker, a cantilever lift consists of a wheeled base, a hydraulic arm, and a basket on top. On some cantilever lifts, the arm can be bent or extended. The worker standing in the basket can use the controls to move the arm. Once in the correct position, they can then complete the work under the basket.


Moving arm lifts can be used for a variety of applications. You will often see utility workers using them on construction sites. Cantilever lifts can be used for painting, repairing another large machine, or refurbishing the exterior of a building. They are also used as camera platforms for filming and firefighters sometimes use them in emergency situations. The name "cherry picker" comes from one of the original uses of boom lifts, which was to harvest fruit in orchards.


Electric Articulating Boom Lift

Electric Articulating Boom Lift    

Boom lift certification

Workers must complete a certification process in order to operate a moving boom lift. In fact, it is required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Failure to comply with this requirement may result in fines from the employer.


Employers may require proof of certification at the time of hire. In other cases, employers may pay for the cost of workers to complete the training and certification process. Workers who complete OSHA-approved training will be issued a certified operator card.


How to determine which type of boom is best?

Articulating boom lifts work best indoors as they can often be installed in tighter spaces, but telescopic boom lifts that are suitable for indoor use can also be used. More electric articulating boom lifts can be used and they do not produce harmful carbon monoxide fumes in confined spaces as petrol, diesel or dual-fuel units do.


Models with an extension between the end of the first boom and the platform (called the small boom) give you a greater reach. The cantilever adds another hinge or articulation point for moving the platform up and down or even side to side. Cantilevers are available for articulated or telescopic boom lifts. Articulated cantilever lifts also have a joint or hinge point approximately halfway between the platform and the wheels. This allows it to go over an obstacle and then descend again if required.


Both types of boom lifts usually have four-wheel drive and both types are suitable for many jobs. Telescopic boom lifts offer the best combination of height and reach.


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