3 Questions to Ask Before Renting a Man Lift

Posted on: 13 October 2016

Aerial lifts, also known as man lifts, are necessary in a variety of construction and industrial settings. But choosing the right one for the task at hand can be tricky if you don't know all the variables at play. Whether you need something for trimming trees, moving items in your warehouse, or repairing the side of a building, here are three questions to ask before renting a lift so you get the right piece of equipment and avoid accidents.

What Type Do You Need?

There are a variety of man lifts available today, and the type you choose will depend on your project. Here are the main styles available for rent.

  1. Scissor Lifts. These man lifts only work in a vertical up-and-down motion, and they come with wheels, which make the machines highly mobile. The lift heights typically range from 10' to 60', and certain models can hold up to 50 tons. Scissor lifts are powered by battery, gas, or hydraulics, and which one you choose will depend on a couple of variables. For instance, battery-operated lifts are the first choice for warehouse use since they don't give off any exhaust, whereas diesel-powered lifts are perfect for hard-core, outdoor construction use. Hydraulic lifts can be used indoors or out.
  2. Boom Lifts. Also known as "bucket lifts," these machines have an arm that extends the bucket up to 150' high. They also come battery-, gas-, or hydraulic-powered, and you have three different styles to choose from. Telescopic lifts have a telescoping boom that will move the bucket up, down, forward, and backward, allowing for easy access to hard-to-reach areas. Articulating lifts also move in multiple directions but are typically reserved for those areas that have obstacles you may need to move around. These lifts are commonly used for trimming trees and repairing power lines. Trailer-mounted lifts are towable and are reserved for jobs that only require a height of 70' or less.
  3. Vertical Mast Lifts. For single-person use only, these lifts are ideal in a warehouse environment. Like the scissor lifts, they only move up and down, but they are generally smaller and have a much tighter turning radius. So they are perfect for really tight quarters.
  4. Spider Lifts. These "all-terrain" lifts are suitable for a wide variety of projects. They can rotate 360 degrees, extend to 160', and their legs are lockable, so they can be used on steps as well as grounds that have a gradient of up to 45%. If you're worried about damage to the ground or floor, then a spider lift is a good option due to the design of the legs. They spread out in a way that allows weight to be more evenly distributed than with other types of lifts.

Is Your Staff Properly Trained?

OSHA doesn't require employees to be certified to operate a man lift; employees only need to be trained and authorized by a supervisor. Read the instruction manual that comes with the lift in order to familiarize yourself with all the features and functions. Then make sure your staff is fully trained on how to safely operate the lift to prevent accidents. Here are a few general guidelines to follow.

  • Never exceed the lift's weight capacity.
  • Make sure the lift works properly before using.
  • Do not move a lift with the boom or platform elevated.
  • Be sure the operator knows where the emergency stop is located.
  • If the lift requires the use of harnesses, make sure they are used at all times.

You should also have a checklist handy for daily pre-lift inspections. This list should include checking fluid levels, tires, brakes, horns, steering, and backup alarms, as well as checking all components of the lift system. You'll also want to conduct an inspection of the surrounding area for work hazards, like power lines and unstable ground, and be sure that work-zone warnings like signs and cones are visible.

What Is Your Budget?

Buying a man lift will set you back anywhere from $22,000 to around $100,000, depending on which type you choose. But you'll be glad to know that the construction-equipment rental is a much more affordable option.

For example, spider-lift rentals cost as little as $75 and as much as $280 per day, whereas a scissor lift will be in the neighborhood of $100 to $150 a day. But you can usually get a discount if you rent by the month. So how much you spend will depend on the length of your project and what type of lift you go with. Establishing a budget ahead of time will make the equipment-shopping process go much faster as it narrows down your options at the outset.