“Between 2011-2014, 1,380 workers were injured as a result of operating an aerial lift or scissor lift,” reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2)The CDC also indicates “87 workers died as a result of operating an aerial lift or scissor lift.” (3)
Why Are Man Lifts and Bucket Trucks Used?
Man lifts and bucket trucks are often used by workers in place of scaffolding. The workers use them when performing installation of drywall, painting, or doing a variety of maintenance tasks. (4)
Industries where aerial lifts are frequently used include: (5)
- General building maintenance.
Other industries requiring the elevation of workers to move materials, change lightbulbs, or store boxes, may also utilize aerial lifts.
The use of any aerial lift has possible risks to workers.
Risks Associated with Man Lifts and Bucket Trucks
Hazards associated with elevating workers to perform tasks are numerous and varied.
Some of the most common hazards, according to the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health (ELCOSH) and The Center to Protect Workers’ Rights (CPWR) include: (6)
- Caught in or between or crushed: “In most of the caught in/between deaths, a worker was caught between the bucket edge and objects such as roof joists or beams while repositioning the bucket.” (7) Roughly 7% of construction deaths associated with aerial lifts were from boom-supported lifts. (8)
- Electrocution: Overall, boom lifts were associated with 43% of construction deaths from electrocution and scissor lifts were associated with 11%. (9) “Half of the boom lift electrocutions involved body contact with overhead power lines… Over one-third of the electrocutions involved an overhead power line contacting the lift boom or bucket.” (10)
- Falls: Data indicates 70% of construction deaths from falls were from lifts: 26% from boom and 44% from scissor lifts. (11) “Half of the falls from boom lifts involved being ejected from the bucket after being struck by vehicles, cranes, or crane loads, or by falling objects, or when a lift suddenly jerked.” (12)
- Tipovers and collapses: These accounted for 47% of construction deaths related to lifts: 17% from boom and 30% from scissor lifts. (13) “Two-thirds of the deaths from collapses/tipovers of boom lifts occurred when the bucket cable or boom broke or the bucket fell; almost one-third were due to tipovers.” (14)
- Struck by or against: Overall, 14% of construction deaths from lift accidents were associated with being struck by or against something. Of them, 5% of the deaths involved boom lifts, while 9% involved scissors lifts. This type of accident often involves workers being struck by collapsing material and girders. (15)
It is clear, some professions are more at risk for lift accidents than others.
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Workers in certain professions are more at risk because they tend to use aerial lifts, such as man lifts and bucket trucks. In addition to raising workers into the air, aerial lifts are mobile and considered a restricted workspace.
They “are used in a number of different conditions, such as adverse weather conditions and high-traffic, continually-changing worksites.” (16)
Professions at greater risk for lift accidents include: (17)
- Construction laborers.
Main Lift Hazards
Lift accidents can be hazardous. “Scissor lifts are more susceptible to tipping, but boom lifts present a greater risk of power line contact,” says the Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA), a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering healthier laborers and improving employers’ bottom lines. (18)
“The main hazards involved in using both types of aerial lifts are falls and electrocutions,” continues LHSFNA. (19) While the organization is correct, there are other possible injuries to workers, as well.
Injuries from Man Lift and Bucket Truck Accidents
Injuries sustained in man lift and bucket truck accidents range from minor to life-threatening, to fatal. Here are some of the most common injuries:
- Death — Boom-supported fall deaths can occur while moving to or from the bucket while the bucket is elevated. Other causes of fall deaths include ejection from the lift after being struck by an object. (20)
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) — Falls are a major cause of TBI. “Traumatic brain injury is usually caused by a blow or other traumatic injury to the head or body. The degree of damage can depend on several factors, including the nature of the injury and the force of impact,” indicates the Mayo Clinic. (21)
- Spinal cord injury (SCI) — SCIs “are caused by trauma to the vertebral column, thereby affecting the spinal cord’s ability to send and receive messages from the brain to the body’s systems that control sensory, motor and autonomic function below the level of injury,” explains the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. (22)
- Burns and electrocution — These occur most often when lifts make contact with overhead power lines. (23) There is also a risk of being struck by lightning while operating a lift. A lift is a tall object and “lightning strikes the tallest objects.” (24)
- Broken bones, fractures — Broken bones or fractures can be life-threatening, especially when there are complications. These life-threatening complications include: vascular damage; collapsed lung; broken and detached segment of rib cage; respiratory compromise; pneumonia, and blood clots. (25)
If you sustained injury from a man lift or bucket truck, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact us today for a free case review.
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Most of these injuries may require extensive and costly medical treatments. If you have suffered one of these injuries, you may face rising medical bills, lengthy recovery times, loss of income or worse, permanent damage. This is why you should speak with an attorney about all of your legal options.
The individual operating a lift or machine is responsible for damage and injuries caused during its use. If an operator was negligent and someone was injured, the injured party may be entitled to compensation.
Is it Negligence?
Negligence is a legal concept indicating the operator of the lift or machine failed to act “with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions.“ (26)
To prove negligence, you must show the court the operator of the lift could foresee the possibility of harm, the severity of that harm, and did not take steps or precautions to eliminate that harm. (27)
Examples of Aerial Lift Negligence
For example, if you were hurt while working in the bucket of a lift that tipped over because the lift hit a curb or hole while moving. Proper maneuvering of the lift is the operator’s responsibility.
Or what if the lift tipped over because the operator did not know or adhere to the rated load capacity for it? Operators are supposed to be aware of and follow recommended guidelines for how much weight a given lift can support to operate the lift safely.
If the operator did not receive the necessary training, the company could be responsible. Companies must provide proper training in areas of health and safety on the job.
If the man lift or bucket truck malfunctions, it could be due to a manufacturing defect in the aerial lift itself. If so, the manufacturer of the aerial lift could be held responsible legally.
How W&L Can Help
Negligence cases are not always clear cut. They can be very complex. This is an area of law where Weitz & Luxenberg has a wealth of experience and a long history of success for our clients.
Some of our success in personal injury and negligence cases include:
- Verdict of $2.96 million for our client. He lost part of his leg when a co-worker drove a hi-lo into a conveyor belt on a sorting room floor lacking adequate barriers.
- Verdict of $20.5 million plus another $3 million for past and future medical expenses for our client. He was the victim of a hit-and-run car accident leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.
- Recovered $10 million for our client. A teenage boy lost sight in one eye while on a school trip. A zip line accident occurred when he was struck by a broken bungee cord acting as a brake.