In the bridge construction, repair and inspection fields there are a number of various terms often used to describe the same thing. Bridge equipment falls into that category of terminology.
What is Bridge Boom Lift?
A boom lift is an aerial work platform used to allow a worker to reach high places, such as bridges. A basic boom lift consists of a platform, or bucket, on one end of a long, jointed or telescoping crane. These crane, or boom, is powered by a hydraulic lift system and attached to a grounded base.
One source explains that,
“Boom lifts are used on construction sites, maintenance sites, and in both rural and urban areas for reaching power lines. If a height is unsafe for reaching with a ladder a boom lift is used. Some boom lifts can extend hundreds of feet into the air. The JLG 1850SJ, one of the most popular boom lifts in the world, reaches over 185 feet! Boom lifts are used for all types of job requirements, including any situation that requires safe and stable elevation of workers and material.”
Boom lifts are typically constructed in two designs. These are known as articulating, or knuckle, booms and telescopic, or straight booms.
An articulating boom lifts work platforms with multiple boom sections that can “articulate,” allowing the operator to go over or around barriers or obstacles. These machines are very versatile and allow worker access in areas with hard to reach places.
The telescopic boom lifts are simpler booms with sections that only extend telescopically. They are sometimes referred to as “Stick Booms.” While they do not have the advantage of articulating booms, these lifts offer greater horizontal outreach than other types of aerial platforms.
In addition to these boom lifts, or “aerial lifts” as they also called, there are scissor lifts.
OSHA makes the distinction by stating that a scissor lift is a mobile scaffold which only moves a platform vertically. An aerial lift, on the other hand, is a vehicle-mounted work platform that can be moved vertically and/or horizontally. There are even aerial lifts that can rotate around a vertical axis where the boom is mounted to the vehicle base.
Regardless of the type of boom or aerial lift you employ, safety must always be a first priority.
According to Industrial Safety & Hygiene News,
“Scissor lifts and aerial lifts have replaced ladders and scaffolding in many general industry workplaces due to their mobility and flexibility in allowing workers to perform certain job tasks. Using this equipment poses serious hazards which OSHA says can and does lead to worker injuries and death. in one year, the agency reports it found ten preventable fatalities and more than 20 preventable injuries resulting from a variety of incidents involving scissor lifts alone. OSHA says that falls are among the most serious hazards associated with scissor and aerial lift use.”
The other major types of “boom lifts” are what we often refer to as “under bridge inspection units” and are produced in a variety of configurations.
Under bridge inspection units and larger truck-mounted boom lifts are best used for larger jobs and bridges, while smaller boom lifts are better suited for small bridge accessing. One of the striking differences in larger under bridge equipment is the muli-articulated boom or crane. These units can be parked or mounted on a bridge deck and maneuver buckets or platforms over and then under the bridge.
The other significant advantage of these lifts over the ground-based aerial lifts is the ability to access the underside of bridges that are situated over water, roadways or railroad tracks, and bridges too high above the ground to allow access from there.
Bridge Boom Lift Advantages
When it comes to bridge inspection or repair work, construction scaffolding has traditionally been used to access the underside of bridges. However, this approach has required lengthy periods of set-up and take-down time, which results in higher labor costs. In addition, there are issues of obstructing traffic flow and sometimes environmental damage and impact.
Bridge boom lifts, either underneath or on top of bridges, eliminates those issues and often results in quicker project completion and greater safety.
Another traditional approach to underbridge access is using ropes and tackle. Again, there are limitations and the added requirement of skilled workers. However, there can be instances where even under bridge inspection units or other bridge boom lift equipment is either not suitable, feasible and recommended.
Why You Should Consider Renting Bridge Boom Lift Equipment
Studies have shown that more than 11 percent of the over 55,000 federally recognized bridges in the United States are classified as “structurally deficient.” Because of this situation – and the continually aging road infrastructure – the demand for new bridge construction and bridge inspections is rising.
If your business involves constructing new bridges, repairing existing bridges or simply inspecting them you need a variety of equipment for your work. However, most firms do not have the resources to buy and maintain a fleet of vehicles and equipment to handle every bridge project they acquire. Not to mention the means to store them safely.
For these reasons renting bridge boom lifts and other bridge equipment is the best way to access the right equipment when you need it.
Depending on the volume of work your company does, you may have periods where only a few under bridge inspection units or bridge boom lifts are needed. At other times, however, you may be engaged in several job sites simultaneously. Over time, it becomes far more cost-effective to simply rent the right equipment when you need it and only when you need it.
Another advantage of renting your bridge boom lifts and other related equipment is having access to newer and more advanced models. Purchasing your own lift can be a major capital investment and you’d likely feel pressed to rely on that unit long past the time it should be replaced. With most rentals, however, you are far more likely to have use of much newer models and have several to choose from, as well.