Aerial work platforms — or AWPs, as they are more commonly known — are economical, portable models that lift one or two workers. These machines are also known as: Aluminum products, manlifts, personnel lifts, lifts, push-arounds and mobile elevating work platforms . They are the least expensive and most basic personnel lifts and are most frequently used for overhead maintenance work and cleaning and hanging signs or decorations.
Decades ago, Genie introduced the first portable personnel lift that was equipped with the patented Genie® mast system, constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum and was able to roll through standard doorways. Today, Genie offers 19 different AWP models that are designed to lift one or two workers (up to 750 lb, 340 kg) to heights of 11 ft 4 in (3.45 m) to 40 ft 4 in (12.29 m), yet they can still be rolled through a standard single or double doorway when stowed. With the exception of the Genie® Runabout® model, these units are manually propelled — so one person can easily move them around the work area.
Why choose an AWP product?
They’re economical and easy to transport. Aerial Equipment 101: What Is an Aerial Work Platform?
Aerial work platforms are a good alternative to scissor lifts. They are affordable and easily maneuverable.
Every model can roll through single or double doorways. They can also go on some elevators, depending on elevator load capacity.
They’re relatively lightweight.
They’re ideal to use on floors that only support limited loads.
They’re simple machines.
These lifts are easy to operate and easy for one person to set up.
Multiple options and accessories are available to customize the lift for every application. They are cost-effective because of the customizability and versatility to suit your worksite needs.
Today’s AWPs are the most affordable option for working at height. They are suitable for maintenance, hanging and cleaning task, and they are convenient to transport, easy to operate and customizable to adapt to worksite needs. It is important to understand Wasp and their uses in order to make the best recommendation for rental customers’ worksite needs.
An aerial work platform (AW), also known as an aerial device, elevating work platform (OP), cherry picker, bucket truck or mobile elevating work platform (MOP) is a mechanical device used to provide temporary access for people or equipment to inaccessible areas, usually at height. There are distinct types of mechanized access platforms and the individual types may also be known as a “cherry picker”, “boom lift” or “scissor lift”.
They are generally used for temporary, flexible access purposes such as maintenance and construction work or by firefighters for emergency access, which distinguishes them from permanent access equipment such as elevators. They are designed to lift limited weights — usually less than a ton, although some have a higher safe working load (SWL) — distinguishing them from most types of cranes. They are usually capable of being set up and operated by a single person.
Regardless of the task they are used for, aerial work platforms may provide additional features beyond transport and access, including being equipped with electrical outlets or compressed air connectors for power tools. They may also be equipped with specialist equipment, such as carrying frames for window glass. Underbridge units are also available to lift operators down to a work area.
As the name suggests, cherry pickers were initially developed to facilitate the picking of cherries. Jay Elite invented the device in 1944 after a frustrating day spent picking cherries using a ladder. He went on to launch the Allstate Corporation, Sunnyvale, CA in 1953 to manufacture the device. Another early cherry picker manufacturer was Ste mm Brothers, Leavenworth, WA. Other uses for cherry pickers quickly evolved.
Articulated lift being demonstrated
There are several distinct types of aerial work platforms, which all have specific features which make them more or less desirable for different applications. The key difference is in the drive mechanism which propels the working platform to the desired location. Most are powered by either hydraulics or possibly pneumatic. The different techniques also reflect in the pricing and availability of each type.
Aerial devices were once exclusively operated by hydraulic pistons, powered by diesel or gasoline motors on the base unit. Lightweight electrically powered units are gaining popularity for window-cleaning or other maintenance operations, especially indoors and in isolated courtyards, where heavier hydraulic equipment cannot be used. Aerial devices are the closest in appearance to a crane – consisting of a number of jointed sections, which can be controlled to extend the lift in a number of different directions, which can often include “up and over” applications. The most common type of aerial device are known in the AWP industry as knuckle boom lifts or articulated boom lifts, due to their distinctive shape, providing easy access to awkward high reach positions.
This type of AWP is the most likely of the types to be known as a “cherry picker”, owing to its origins, where it was designed for use in orchards (though not just cherry orchards). It lets the picker standing in the transport basket pick fruit high in a tree with relative ease (with the jointed design ensuring minimum damage to the tree). The term “cherry picker” has become generic, and is commonly used to describe articulated lifts (and more rarely all AWPs).
Another type of aerial device is a straight boom lift or telescopic boom lift, which as its name suggests has a boom that extends straight out for direct diagonal or vertical reach by the use of telescoping sections, letting you take full advantage of the boom length range.
Some AWPS are classified as spider lifts due to the appearance of their legs as they unfold, extend and stabilise, providing a wide supportive base to operate safely. These legs can be manual or hydraulic (usually depending on size and price of the machine).
AWPs are widely used for maintenance and construction of all types, including extensively in the power and telecommunications industries to service overhead lines, and in arboriculture to provide an independent work platform on difficult or dangerous trees. A specialist type of the articulated lift is the type of fire apparatus used by firefighters worldwide as a vehicle to provide high level or difficult access. These types of platforms often have additional features such as a piped water supply and water cannon to aid firefighters in their task.
An extended scissor lift
A scissor lift is a type of platform that can usually only move vertically. The mechanism to achieve this is the use of linked, folding supports in a criss-cross X pattern, known as a pantograph (or scissor mechanism). The upward motion is achieved by the application of pressure to the outside of the lowest set of supports, elongating the crossing pattern, and propelling the work platform vertically. The platform may also have an extending deck to allow closer access to the work area, because of the inherent limits of vertical-only movement.
The contraction of the scissor action can be hydraulic, pneumatic or mechanical (via a leadscrew or rack and pinion system). Depending on the power system employed on the lift, it may require no power to descend, able to do so with a simple release of hydraulic or pneumatic pressure. This is the main reason that these methods of powering the lifts are preferred, as it allows a fail-safe option of returning the platform to the ground by release of a manual valve.
Apart from the height and width variables, there are a few considerations required when choosing a scissor lift. Electric scissor lifts have smaller tyres and can be charged by a standard power point. These machines usually suit level ground surfaces and have zero or minimal fuel emissions. Diesel scissor lifts have larger rough terrain tyres with high ground clearance for uneven outdoor surface conditions. Many machines contain outriggers that can be deployed to stabilise the machine for operation.
There are a number of smaller lifts that use mechanical devices to extend, such as rack and pinion or screw threads. These often have juxtaposed sections that move past each other in order to facilitate movement, usually in a vertical direction only. These lifts usually have limited capability in terms of weight and extension, and are most often used for internal maintenance tasks, such as changing light bulbs.
A 1920s version in Sweden, for work on public street lights.
AWPs, by their nature, are designed for temporary works and therefore frequently require transportation between sites, or simply around a single site (often as part of the same job). For this reason, they are almost all designed for easy movement and the ability to ride up and down truck ramps.
These usually smaller units have no motive drive and require external force to move them. Dependent on size and whether they are wheeled or otherwise supported, this may be possible by hand, or may require a vehicle for towing or transport. Small non-powered AWPs can be light enough to be transported in a pickup truck bed, and can usually be moved through a standard doorway.
These units are able to drive themselves (on wheels or tracks) around a site (they usually require to be transported to a site, for reasons of safety and economy). In some instances, these units will be able to move whilst the job is in progress, although this is not possible on units which require secure outriggers, and therefore most common on the scissor lift types. The power can be almost any form of standard mechanical drive system, including electric or gasoline powered, or in some cases, a hybrid (especially where it may be used both inside and outside).
Such person lifts are distinguished from telescopic handlers in that the latter are true cranes designed to deliver cargo loads such as pallets full of construction materials (rather than just a person with some tools).
Some units are mounted on a vehicle, usually a truck. They can also be mounted on a flat-back pick-up van known as a self drive, though other vehicles are possible, such as flatcars. This vehicle provides mobility, and may also help stabilize the unit – though outrigger stabilizers are still typical, especially as vehicle-mounted AWPs are amongst the largest of their kind. The vehicle may also increase functionality by serving as a mobile workshop or store.[further explanation needed]
(video) Three aerial work platform trucks work together on utility poles, in Bunkyo, Japan.
The power assisted drive (if fitted) and lift functions of an AWP are controlled by an operator, who can be situated either on the work platform itself, or at a control panel at the base of the unit. Some models are fitted with a panel at both locations or with a remote control, giving operator a choice of position. A control panel at the base can also function as a safety feature if for any reason the operator is at height and becomes unable to operate his controls. Even models not fitted with a control panel at the base are usually fitted with an emergency switch of some sort, which allows manual lowering of the lift (usually by the release of hydraulic or pneumatic pressure) in the event of an emergency or power failure.
Controls vary by model, but are frequently either buttons or a joystick. The type and complexity of these will depend on the functions the platform is able to perform, such as
he majority of manufacturers and operators have strict safety criteria for the operation of AWPs. In some countries, a licence and insurance is required to operate some types of AWP. Most protocols advocate training every operator, whether mandated or not. Most operators adopt a checklist of verifications to be completed before each use. Manufacturers recommend regular maintenance schedules.
Work platforms are fitted with safety or guard rails around the platform itself to contain operators and passengers. This is supplemented in most models by a restraining point, designed to secure a safety harness or fall arrester. Some work platforms also have a lip around the floor of the platform itself to avoid tools or supplies being accidentally kicked off the platform. Some protocols require all equipment to be attached to the structure by individual lanyards.
When using AWPs in the vicinity of overhead power lines, users may be electrocuted if the lift comes into contact with electrical wiring. Non-conductive materials, such as fiberglass, may be used to reduce this hazard. ‘No Go Zones’ may be designated near electrical hazards.
AWPs often come equipped with a variety of tilt sensors. The most commonly activated sensor is an overweight sensor that will not allow the platform to raise if the maximum operating weight is exceeded. Sensors within the machine detect that weight on the platform is off-balance to such a point as to risk a possible tip-over if the platform is raised further. Another sensor will refuse to extend the platform if the machine is on a significant incline. Some models of AWPs additionally feature counterweights, which extend in order to offset the danger of tipping the machine inherent in extending items like booms or bridges.
As with most dangerous mechanical devices, all AWPs are fitted with an emergency stop button which may be activated by a user in the event of a malfunction or danger. Best practice dictates fitting of emergency stop buttons on the platform and at the base as a minimum. Other safety features include automatic self-checking of the AWP’s working parts, including a voltmeter that detects if the lift has insufficient power to complete its tasks and preventing operation if supply voltage is insufficient. Some AWPs provide manual lowering levers at the base of the machine, allowing operators to lower the platform to the ground in the event of a power or control failure, or unauthorized use of the machine.
Platform JIC Telescopic Boom Aerial Platform Superstructure Series JPF-T used to provide temporary access for people or equipment to inaccessible areas, usually at height. Aerial Platform is generally used for flexible access purposes such as maintenance and construction work. Telescopic Boom Aerial Platform is the best solution to achieve the desired out-reach. With auto-level bucket throughout the aerial platform movement, JIC access platforms with telescopic boom is a perfect and safe combination to work on desired Heights (up to 80 feet) of buildings at critical places. We worked a lot on safety factors in Pakistan in access platforms.
What Is an Aerial Work Platform?
Aerial work platforms – also known as AWPs – offer alternatives to ladders and scaffolding when workers need to complete tasks at great heights. A wide range of industries relies on these platforms. From landscaping companies to maintenance facilities, construction companies to industrial cleaning companies, there’s no limit to the kinds of things you can accomplish with an aerial platform.
The main components of an aerial work platform include a base structure (typically a wheeled vehicle to move the MEWP or AWP into place), an extending structure with chassis, and a flat workspace with controls for the operator to control the lift. Keep in mind, this is a list of the major parts of an aerial lift. For a detailed glimpse into the different components and accessories that comprise an AWP, check out The Anatomy of an Aerial Lift.
Always take proper safety precautions when using an AWP. A body harness and fall protection gear can go a long way to prevent injuries at work. AWPs should also be kept far away from any overhead wires and other kinds of worksite hazards.
Workers should also undergo OSHA-compliant training before they begin using aerial platforms. Training courses help ensure that employees have the knowledge and experience necessary to safely operate an AWP.
Aerial Work Platform Options
Aerial work platforms come in a wide range of sizes. From a soaring aerial platform used for maintenance and construction to a lower elevated work platform, many aerial platforms are available.
Ultimately, you need to select an aerial work platform that allows you to perform a specific task, as quickly and efficiently as possible. To help you find the right aerial platform for the task at hand, let’s examine five of the most popular options:
Sometimes called “the spider,” boom lifts are characterized by their four legs and bucket on the end. They’re mounted to a vehicle with durable tires, making it an excellent option for uneven or rough terrain. Boom lifts are among the most popular aerial work platforms, as they’re incredibly durable and versatile.
The spider consists of a boom lift that has a bucket at the end of the boom where workers stand to access a work area. It was originally designed for orchards and allowed workers to easily pick fruit that was high up in trees. Nowadays, the lift is frequently used for overhead line maintenance, sprucing up tall trees, and even assisting firefighters in areas that are difficult to access.
Maintenance and inspections are important to ensure boom lifts and similar types of construction lifts run properly. CMO’s aerial lift certification includes some helpful tips for adhering to a sensible maintenance schedule.
- Articulated Boom Lift
Also known as a knuckle lift, articulated boom lifts feature extended arms that allow workers to reach up and over obstacles. The boom lift uses a turntable base to swivel around 360 degrees. This makes it the best option for maintenance work and other jobs with limited access.
Unlike a scissor lift, an articulated boom lift can be used for building repair jobs, including piping. An articulated boom lift can also be used on uneven terrain.
Workers can undergo articulated boom lift training as part of an aerial platform safety program. That way, workers can learn how to safely use an articulated boom lift during maintenance and building repair jobs.
- Telescopic Boom Lift
For workers who require maximum reach at heights, a telescopic boom lift is ideal. This type of AWP is a terrific option for window washers, electricians, and other workers who need to access areas that are directly above or parallel to them.
Telescopic MEWs are versatile enough to handle work areas directly above or at an angle from the base of the lift. The operator stands in a mobile cockpit to control and customize the lift’s movements.
Before workers begin using a telescopic boom lift, they must complete a safety training program. Telescopic boom lift safety is a key tenet of worker training for aerial lifts, and a safety training program teaches workers how to minimize risk when they use this type of aerial platform.
- Scissor Lift
A scissor lift is frequently used for indoor work. The lift has a set of supports in a crisscross pattern and offers limited reach in comparison to telescopic and articulated boom lifts.
Typically, scissor lifts only move vertically. A scissor lift’s upward motion is achieved by the application of pressure to the outside of its lowest set of supports, elongating the crossing pattern, and propelling the work platform vertically.
Scissor lifts are commonly used for basic maintenance work and painting. Rough terrain scissor lifts are also available for outdoor work on uneven terrain.
While most people think of scissor lifts as a type of construction lift or another kind of elevated work platform, they’re actually defined by OSHA as a type of scaffolding, since the operator/work platform doesn’t extend horizontally away from the base. Even though scissor lifts aren’t technically aerial lifts, they’re still more versatile and useful than traditional scaffolding.
Meanwhile, scissor lift safety training is available. With this training, workers can learn how to safely move a scissor lift up and down, operate the lift on rough terrain, and more.
- Aerial Platform
An aerial platform resembles a cherry picker and serves as a vehicle-mounted, boom-supported aerial platform. Workers can use an aerial platform at outdoor job sites to reach utility lines, trees, and more.
If you are considering an AWP, you should evaluate the aforementioned options closely. This will help you identify the right AWP for your worksite, and ultimately, enable you to maximize the return on your platform investment.
Regardless of which AWP you use, you need to safely operate the platform. Thanks to AWP safety training, workers of all skill and experience levels can become certified lift operators.
Types of Aerial Lifts
Aerial lift can be a blanket term used to describe boom lifts and scissor lifts. However, it is important to note that aerial lifts were originally designed to drive to outdoor job sites to access electrical lines, trees, and other outdoor objects. As the demand for construction projects across the world continues to grow, so too does the demand for aerial work platforms. In fact, the market is projected to grow by nearly seven percent by the end of 2026.
Common types of aerial lifts include:
✓ Personnel Lifts
Also referred to as “people lifts,” personnel lifts function as mechanical ladders. They offer greater stability over traditional ladders and reach heights approaching 50 ft.
Towable boom lifts are lightweight and portable. They are frequently used at yards, gyms, and other light industrial worksites.
Scissor lifts are capable of reaching heights of 60 ft. They are ideal for workers who must paint buildings, wash windows, install HVAC systems, and perform other overhead tasks.
By completing an aerial platform training program, workers can gain the insights they need to use an aerial lift without disruption. They can also become more productive and efficient when they use an aerial lift, as well as take elevated work platform precautions to help make a jobsite safe.
Types of Construction Lifts
Along with aerial lifts, construction lifts are available. Common construction lifts include:
✓ Bucket Trucks
A bucket truck features a boom that is mounted to the vehicle and a bucket at the end of the boom. It is often used by utility workers who need to reach transmission lines. Along with utility workers, bucket trucks may be utilized by landscapers and pruners who need to trim tall trees.
✓ Articulated Boom Lifts
Knuckle lifts are useful for construction workers who need a work platform that allows them to reach obstacles. For example, if a construction worker needs to repair exterior piping, an articulated boom lift will make it easy to access tough-to-reach spots around the piping. This type of lift is also ideal for construction workers who need to perform work on uneven terrain.
✓ Telescoping Boom Lifts
For construction workers who need to complete work at a maximum height, they should consider a telescoping boom lift. This type of lift has an extendable arm and a rotating turntable that allows a single construction worker to complete tasks at high elevations. A telescoping boom lift is often a great choice for electrical repairs, maintenance tasks, and other work performed at extreme heights.
Elevated Work Platforms: Which One Is Right for You?
The right aerial work platform varies based on your application. So, you need to consider the task at hand, what you hope to accomplish, and which elevated work platform can help you complete your job safely and efficiently.
You need to look beyond the financial cost of elevated work platforms, too. An aerial platform may require a significant upfront investment, but you also need to consider workplace safety. If you invest in safety training for aerial work platforms, workers can learn how to properly use an aerial platform. Plus, workers can learn how to comply with aerial lift safety requirements.
The Importance of Compliance for Elevated Work Platforms
Safety is a priority with aerial lifts. OSHA states that the major causes of aerial lift fatalities are falls, electrocutions, collapses, and tip-overs, and employers must take measures to ensure the safe use of aerial lifts by workers who are required to use this equipment. Indeed, an increased focus on worker safety is one of the most prominent driving factors in the industry. Better functioning and more task-specific aerial work platforms help ensure the safest possible work experience.
CMO’s comprehensive aerial lift training and elevated work platform certification give you everything required for full compliance, regardless of the type of construction lifts or aerial lifts your company uses.
Time and resources go a long way to helping employees learn about aerial platform safety. Reduce the odds of a workplace accident that put you and your colleagues in danger. With your knowledge of aerial platform safety, you can help empower others to prioritize safety, too. When safety comes first, the rest falls into place.
Enroll Your Workers in Elevated Work Platform Training Today
Employees who use Wasp are legally required to get certified before starting work. Failure to complete a thorough elevated work platform safety training program and your business may be the target of OSHA compliance fines and violations. Even if your organization manages to skirt such penalties, an untrained workforce is a dangerous one. People are far more likely to be involved in lift accidents and suffer injuries when they’re unfamiliar with industry best practices.
Certification.net offers an extensive AW safety training program that takes the guesswork out of becoming an OSHA-compliant lift operator. Our program is easily accessible and can be completed in a matter of hours. It allows workers to immediately earn their OSHA certification and ensure they can safely use a lift at any worksite.