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Use Outdoor Rental Equipment Safely

Photo of a man on a scissors lift in a building.

When you rent, borrow or use equipment that will either elevate you or break ground, be sure to use it safely. Whether you are a novice do-it-yourselfer eager to embark on a lofty project or you have used several types of outdoor equipment or machinery before, be sure to always read and follow the safety guidelines and operating instructions provided by the manufacturer. In addition, keep these 10 safety tips in mind:

  1. Before using equipment, obtain proper training; in some cases, certification is required.

  2. Prior to each use, follow the manufacturer’s checklist to verify it is in good working order.

  3. Always evaluate and assess your location before using a scissor lift, a bucket truck, a boom lift or scaffolding (or anything that elevates you). Look up and look out for power line locations, and do not use equipment underneath or near a power line or utility pole. Keep in mind your equipment’s reach (height and width) when fully extended, and make sure it will not get too close to a power line. Always follow the 10-foot rule: Keep 10 feet between yourself or an object you are holding and a power line or pole at all times.

  4. If you rent a backhoe, a post hole digger or other digging equipment, be sure to call 8-1-1 two to three days prior to starting your project. The locating service is free and marks all public underground lines. You are responsible for having all private underground lines and pipes marked, such as those that service a garage or outbuilding, sprinkler system, invisible fence or private water system. If you or a previous homeowner had the lines installed, they are most likely private.

  5. When using rental equipment that lifts you off the ground, always wear your safety harness. It’s a simple step that helps keep you safe if you lose your footing.

  6. Do not use a scissor or boom lift (or any other piece of equipment) for a job it was not designed for.

  7. Before starting a job, account for external conditions, such as wind. High winds could push you too close to or into a power line, and you could be seriously injured or electrocuted.

  8. Starting a project can be exciting, but don’t just jump in. Instead, read and review the operating instructions first and take the time to familiarize yourself with the equipment. For example, learn how to use the controls close to the ground before using them at a higher elevation.

  9. Don’t ignore the specifications for each piece of equipment, such as maximum platform capacity.

  10. When you are elevated, keep both feet on the platform at all times and use appropriate boots or shoes that have slip-resistant soles. Make sure your shoes or boots are not oily, muddy or greasy.


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