It Takes Two

When working with equipment as potentially dangerous as an aerial lift, the industry standard is for the operator to be trained in all aspects of the machine's operations. But, what about the person on the ground? 

It is every bit as critical for a ground assistant to be knowledgeable, up-to-speed and ready to act. Imagine a situation where the operator in the air has a heart attack, or is knocked unconscious by a falling object. If you're on the ground and are suddenly thrust into a life or death situation, are you prepared? 

Hopefully your company is indeed prepared, and your employees are well-versed in emergency procedures for aerial lifts, both in the machine and on the ground. Unfortunately, this is not always the norm. Our Teupen team hears from clients every once in a while, reporting a situation where a lift operator was stuck in the air and the ground person didn't know the steps to control the equipment, and it took some time to learn them. Fortunately, these are not dire emergency situations, but nobody can predict when they might be. 

So whether this is new information or simply a reminder, here are the things we encourage our clients to always keep top of mind:
  • Never do it alone. The machine operator cannot help himself if he experiences a medical emergency.
  • In the event of seizure, stroke or other medical emergency that may render the operator from controlling the platform, it is imperative to have a trained support person on the ground. Never assume or take for granted that someone nearby will know a machine's specific emergency lowering procedures. 
  • Prior to each and any work shift, the equipment operator and his designated support person should review and practice using the lift's emergency lowering devices.
  • In addition to knowing the emergency procedure, the operator and his crew should develop an emergency plan and have it in writing.
  • The plan should include emergency numbers both internal and external, and with a notification phone tree.
  • On each job, one person should be designated to take control of the aerial platform from the ground, if needed, and this person should fully understand the plan.
  • The plan should include the name and contact information for the designated on-site emergency medical responder.
  • Remember that different machine manufacturers, and many models within the same family, can have variations in emergency lowering procedures. Be sure to refresh your knowledge frequently on each lift model you use. Every machine is required to have an operator's manual on board. Make sure it's there and take the time to read it. This simple step may just save a life.
  • Ask and learn about powered emergency lowering from the ground.
  • Ask and learn about manual emergency lowering from the ground. The manual system uses a handle in a method similar to a hand pump. 
  • Determine and plan for the potential need of a rescue machine in the event of catastrophic system failure or an obstruction preventing the lowering of the lift.
At Teupen, all of our compact track lifts include emergency ground control stations to allow the person on the ground to safely lower the lift. The operator's manual should go up with the aerial platform, meaning that the ground assistant will not have this reference close by. There are decals with basic operating instructions on the base of the machines, but the most foolproof method is for the ground person to be trained and ready for any situation where controlling the lift is in his hands. 

Remember the two keys to a consistently safe workday: planning and practice. The company that follows through with both is the company that minimizes risk and puts its employees first.