Let's suppose you've had IPAF training on a typical 30ft to 45ft boom lift or 24ft to 30ft scissor but then you're asked to operate a 150ft boom or a 100ft scissor.
Will operating the machine really be much different to the smaller one you were trained on? The answer is definitely 'yes' and there are plenty of things you need to be aware of before you operate a larger machine.
Larger machines provide more challenges to the operator so more technology has been incorporated in the machine to help keep you safe.
When going higher in a large (and heavier) machine the load has to be spread and the platform has to be kept within a safe working envelope. Therefore the platform on machines such as the Genie Z135/70 cannot be raised or rotated until the machine’s axles have been fully extended.
When operating a smaller machine you will have been used to what is known as 'bang, bang' or non proportional controls – basically you move a lever and the machine responds immediately.
However, with a large machine sudden and fast movements are not desirable, so most controls are proportional with slow-down features, enabling actions to take place at a slower pace to ensure safety. So you might move a lever and because nothing happens immediately you might think that something is not working. Be patient though, and the action will be performed.
Some boom lifts will automatically start slowing down as they get to the end of an operation to avoid jerking and unnecessary fatigue to the metal. In a further safety measure, the axles on a larger machine will not retract if the boom is not in the fully stowed position.
When working at greater heights it's more important than ever to consider ground conditions. Most machines can be driven at height and although you may only be travelling at 0.4 miles per hour, if you go over a pothole it could have a major adverse affect. We always recommend lowering the machine to ensure that manoeuvres are carried out safely. Also bear in mind that wind strength increases as a platform reaches higher.
Larger machines have sophisticated envelope control systems that will limit height and reach if more than two people are in the platform. In some cases automatic boom safety controls will take over the operation of a machine if the operator attempts to manoeuvre the boom beyond its safe working envelope.
Machine familiarisation is the answer to the challenges of operating a larger machine. We have a range of machine familiarisation videos available that will enable you to learn about the controls, features and functions of a specific machine before you even step near it, so to find out more contact us on 01279 501501.