Boom lift safety – A boom lift is not a crane

Boom lift safety - Article

At many jobsites boom lifts and cranes are used to reach a working area at height and lift and lower loads. However, lifting (heavy) materials is often carried out wrong.

Boom lifts are used to elevate workers and tools, for all kinds of tasks where a safe and stable elevated working platform is needed. Cranes are used to lift heavy loads to great heights. While it may seem like you can also lift materials with a boom lift, this is not what the equipment was designed for and it can cause dangerous tip-over situations.

Fall protection PPE in a boom lift

Working from a boom lift

Fall protection can be required the moment you enter a basket of a boom lift, even though the basket may be surrounded by guardrails. In a previous blog we already discussed fall protection in aerial lifts and the risk of being ejected from an elevated platform or falling out of a basket.

Now we want to focus on another aspect of fall prevention while working at height in a boom lift; preventing a tip-over and thus a fall.

Weight capacity

Boom lifts have a specified maximum load capacity, set by the manufacturer. This is the maximum weight the boom lift can carry safely without tipping over. The maximum load includes the weight of the worker and all tools, materials and equipment that the basket has to carry.

Example weight capacity boom lift

Manufacturers generally make load charts that detail the load capacities for a lift at different heights. For example, some machines have a maximum load of 454 kg (1000lbs) to a maximum height of 12m (40ft), above that height the maximum load capacity becomes 227 kg (500 lbs). A longer radius can also reduce lifting capacity.

Employers must ensure that all workers who have to work with a boom lift understand the maximum load and know how to safely carry objects or materials. For example, materials should not be larger than the basket to avoid instability.

Another point of attention is tool tethering. Ensure that materials and tools that are brought up, cannot fall down. Tools can be secured with a tool tether to the basket of a boom lift.

Know the difference

Boom lifts and cranes are made for different tasks and they do not have the same capabilities. A boom lift does not have the same lifting strength as a crane, and a crane is not suitable for lifting workers. Use the equipment for what it was designed for, to ensure safety for all.

Download factsheet

Download the factsheet boom lift fall prevention with practices that will help prevent tip-overs and injuries.

7 Comments. Leave new

  • Thulasidos Sargunan
    1 November 2018 17:44

    Very much useful.

  • Gary W Leonard
    11 December 2018 19:44

    Over the years I have seen countless times where AWP’s were used to hoist materials instead of getting the correct equipment for the job. Makes me shudder when I see someone rigging the underside with a sling as I know what is about to be done. Some more of that Cowboy attitude that gets people hurt or worse.

  • Duncan Rogers
    9 January 2019 12:24

    Great work. This is an essential article about the difference between a boom lift and a crane. I work in the lifting industry and use gantry lifting systems for factory relocation and heavy machine moving. I have already passed this article to a client asking about this type of lifting. I hope the links help your business.

  • Charlie ahuja
    4 March 2019 11:10

    Thanks for the blog shared with us.
    Boom lift is a machine which helps us to reach at a height. It is not a crane.

  • I love your crane vs. boom facts. I have been thinking about building a house. I might need to get a crane.

  • ABCOEngineers
    10 February 2020 12:57

    Really a very helpful article thanks for sharing and keep on sharing!

  • Craig Macleod
    19 February 2022 09:35

    I wanted to use a crane in order to suspend a shieve, has to have a breaking strain off thirty tons would this be possible if you installed a main boom brace? Any help would be grateful!.


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