Machine Inspection and Maintenance

Some type of pre-start inspection generally is required for all types of aerial lifts. These can cover controls, safety devices, machine components, and warning signs and decals. After an accident, asking the operator about the pre-start inspection can establish the operator’s level of safety awareness.

In a matter concerning an allegedly faulty step on a scissor lift, the operator was asked whether he had noticed the condition of the step before he allegedly slipped off. The operator replied, “Oh yeah, I’ve been up and down those steps a hundred times.” After a drop-off accident, another operator claimed he could not read the control labels indicating the machine’s direction because they were obscured by paint. He had been on the lift several times before, and the control labels were “always like that.” In both cases, the pre-start inspection obviously did not serve its purpose or was never done.

Standards state that aerial platforms not in proper operating condition should be immediately removed from service until repaired. However, in practice, operators often will use a machine in need of repair several times without incident, allegedly out of fear their employer will take action against them for refusing to use the malfunctioning machine. OSHA regulations prohibit employers from forcing workers to use unsafe equipment.