Boom lifts: A comprehensive guide

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Boom lifts are versatile pieces of machinery that can reach further than any other type of access equipment. Many types of boom lifts are designed to work in particular situations, from indoors to outdoors and on rugged, sloped, or sensitive terrain. 

In this guide, we explore different types of boom lifts, taking a deep dive into key features, applications, and operational considerations. You’ll learn how to choose a boom that will suit your project and how to use it safely. 


What is a boom lift?

A boom lift is a type of elevating work platform (EWP) designed to safely lift workers and tools to elevated heights. It has an extendable arm, called a boom, with a bucket or platform attached at the end for workers to stand in and conduct certain tasks. They can be self-propelled or attached to a trailer.


What is a boom lift used for?

Industries such as construction use boom lifts for maintenance, repair, or inspection tasks. While entertainment, telecommunications, professional gardening, window cleaning, and warehousing industries often use boom lifts to reach areas that aren’t easily accessible by ladders or scaffolding.


How boom lifts differ from other equipment 

As far as access equipment goes, each type of machine has a specific purpose, and it’s important to understand how they differ in functionality.


Boom lifts vs forklifts

Boom lifts and forklifts have fundamentally different purposes in that booms help workers access elevated areas via a bucket or platform at the end of a telescopic or articulated boom. On the other hand, forklifts were created for lifting and moving heavy loads at lower heights using a pair of horizontal forks. Forklifts might lift a load to 6 metres, while boom lifts may have the capacity to lift to 45 metres or more. 


Boom lifts vs scissor lifts

One essential difference between boom and scissor lifts is that booms can move vertically and horizontally, while scissor lifts can only move vertically. Scissor lifts also reach lower heights (6-15 metres) than boom lifts (over 45 metres). Articulated booms offer extra flexibility to move around obstacles, which scissor lifts cannot do.


Boom lifts: A comprehensive guide

How to operate a boom lift

You need to have been trained in operating a boom lift before it is safe to do so. There are two different training programs available for potential boom lift operators. One is the EWPA Yellow Card, which covers boom lifts up to 11 metres in height. The other is the WorkSafe WP Licence for boom lifts greater than 11 metres in height. 


What are the different types of boom lifts?

Boom lifts can be divided into two main categories: telescopic or straight booms and articulated or knuckle booms.


Telescopic boom lift

Telescopic boom lifts or straight booms excel in high outdoor areas due to their impressive vertical reach of over 150 feet. They’re ideal for open spaces where a direct path to the work zone is possible. Usually, telescopic booms are used by a single operator.


Articulated boom lift

Articulated boom lifts or knuckle booms, on the other hand, can bend and manoeuvre around obstacles, making them perfect for confined indoor spaces or for reaching over obstructions. For a deeper dive into telescopic vs. articulated boom lifts, check out our comprehensive blog post.


Within these two categories, there are various types of boom lifts, such as electric, hybrid, and rough terrain. With the many different types of boom lifts available, it’s crucial that you can tell them apart and identify which one will best suit your needs.

Electric boom lifts

Made for use indoors, electric boom lifts produce no emissions and are less noisy than their diesel counterparts. They are compact in design and are powered by electric batteries instead of a combustion engine.

Hybrid boom lifts

Built for indoor and outdoor use, hybrid boom lifts can change from electric to engine power according to the task or environment. Opt for a hybrid when you need a boom lift that can handle most conditions.  

Rough terrain boom lifts 

Built for challenging ground conditions outdoors, rough terrain boom lifts, also called off-road or 4×4 boom lifts, have features to facilitate greater stability and traction on uneven, rugged, or sloped surfaces. 

Spider boom lifts 

Spider boom lifts, also known as spider lifts, tracked lifts, or compact crawler lifts, are lightweight and compact machines with a tracked undercarriage for use on uneven, slippery, or sloped terrain. The spider boom’s articulated (many-jointed) boom allows it to get into hard-to-reach positions and get around obstacles. 

Track-mounted boom lifts

Much like spider boom lifts, track-mounted boom lifts have a tracked undercarriage, but they have a larger, more robust design to reach greater heights than a spider boom. Track-mounted boom lifts are perfect for tackling inclines, slopes, and obstacles.


Boom lifts: A comprehensive guide


How to stay safe around boom lifts 

Boom lifts reach enormous heights, which makes safety a vital requirement on any worksite. Here are our top tips for boom lift safety

  • Clear the circumference of the equipment of people and obstacles.
  • Make sure your operators are well-trained.
  • Ensure your workers use harnesses for extra safety.
  • Adhere to the limits of your machine’s weight capacity. 
  • Choose the right boom lift for your environment and project. 


Get the right boom lift from All Star Access Hire

At All Star, our mission is to boost your productivity and the safety of your worksite by providing you with the most well-maintained machines in Victoria. Our onsite assessments ensure you choose the right equipment for your project, while our 24/7 emergency breakdown line ensures nothing ever gets in the way of your projects getting completed.

See our full range of boom lifts for hire online or contact us today. 


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