Aerial Lifts in the Winter: A Safety and Service Guide

by Brian Frederick
February 15, 2018

Cold weather can wreak havoc on all your equipment, especially aerial lifts. Long lines and lots of moving parts mean a greater risk of breakdown when temperatures plummet. Raised platforms are dangerous in the best of weather, and can become downright treacherous when it’s icy.

Here are some steps to make sure your lifts are safe and in great working condition all winter long:

Check the manual

This should be obvious, but too many fleet managers overlook this simple step. The manual that came with your lift contains lots of information about how to keep your aerial lift in good condition. It should have all sorts of maintenance tips to keep you working through the coldest months.

Protect your crew

Working on top of a lift in sub-zero temperatures is a miserable experience. And discomfort can lead to mistakes. Protect your employees and make their job a little easier by providing a heating element on the platform. Giving them the warmth they need to get work done will reduce accidents and improve employee happiness.

Use a cold weather package

Start with a cold-specific oil that won’t thicken and lose stability when it’s freezing. A block heater and battery blankets will help ensure the engine turns over. Hydraulic tank heaters accelerate warm up times and reduce stress by keeping parts properly lubricated.

Go slow

This is a good tip for all construction equipment in winter, but especially lifts. Go slow when starting your aerial equipment. Make sure it’s adequately warmed up before starting work. Likewise, take your time when moving lifts. Icy patches can be invisible. Slow and steady not only wins the race, but prevents accidents and breakdowns too.

Keep an eye on problems

Lifts have several parts that tend to have problems in winter weather. These include batteries, engine fluids and tires. Some parts, like hoses and seals, have cold-specific replacements. If you have a problem with brittle and cracking hoses, it’s a good idea to invest in ones that will stay soft, no matter how cold it gets. Regardless, you should make regular inspections a part of your service routine. Consider implementing predictive maintenance using a platform like ES Track to identify potential issues.

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