TRACK LIFT TRAINING, SAFETY INSPECTIONS, AND OPERATIONS
This article is not intended to endorse or debase one track lift manufacturer over another or the ownership and use of track mounted (or wheel) mobile aerial lifts. The fact is the availability of such devices has created new opportunities in many ways. These machines allow us to reach tree branches quickly while what may be otherwise a longer process to meet the goals by way of climbing with rope and saddle. There are many options and sizes to pick from insuring you can most likely find the one that's right for you. There are also several good manufacturers selling track lifts.
If you have any experience with a track lift you will have noticed they are labeled front to rear and on both sides with many safety notices, warnings, instructions, and cautions. These companies aren't simply applying these decals to make the unit more pretty or to spend more money attached to the "build" cost. All the manufacturers I've dealt with understand the safety concerns associated with track lifts, the liability exposure (for them and potentially for you) as well as the performance expectations. Safety Is First!
Let’s take a look at what I feel are the 3 vital action takers for any track lift owner, manager, and of course, the user:
Training: In all honesty, if the manufacturer who you are considering purchasing your track lift from won't come to your site and train you, I'd recommend you move on to another brand. If you're a first-time buyer or buying a second upgraded model, then who should know more and who must be willing to help support you in safe operations of your track lift? What about the field staff who will be operating this machine? Who's training them? Are they qualified to provide training and by what guidelines have you put into place confirming they have been trained and can train others if called upon. You are the boss so the buck stops with you should any liability arise due to a lack of proper training.
Safety Inspections: My first thought is, when and where possible have the same people using the same machine. Inspecting the mechanics of your lift is not weekly, monthly, or even yearly - it's every day.
Track lifts have a lot of moving parts which need to be inspected daily and serviced as needed. Any neglect to inspect your lift could lead to a disaster. One example I can share with you is a company machine flipped on its side while traveling across a flat graded, normal yard. What happened, right? Unknowingly the track retractor valve was bringing the track back in on one side while the other side was extended and with one little bump in the lawn the machine went over on its side. Fortunately once the machine was up-righted and the valve was replaced, the track lift was back on the road working within 2 days. They Were Blessed!
Operations: Let's get this stuck in our minds: track lifts are not toys! The misuse and/or improper use of any track lift can lead to serious consequences. You can't overload them. When it says "not to exceed" 300 lb load, they're telling you this for your own safety. You "Shall Not” use them as a mini crane to lower limbs and wood. Anyone operating a track lift should be fully aware of the set-up, use and any limitations associated with the machine’s functions as well as its acceptable performance.
BTS Equipment works on several makes and models of track lifts. Sometimes there are part failures which require service and replacement.
Many times, as the machines get used more and more there is and can be expected hydraulic system fatigue. However, improper use or avoidable accidents creates they greatest challenge in keeping any track lift safe and working at its peak performance.
There's no denying it, track lifts continue to be a vital and productive piece of equipment in the tree care industry (other industries as well). As the writer of this article, I am in no way endorsing or biased in the who, why, and when when it comes to your next track lift purchase. BTS Equipment continues to service more and more track lifts (one key reason is there are more of them being used) which allows us to share some of our hands-on experiences which will hopefully help you.
Author: Article and opinion presented by George R. Lee, Owner and President of BTS Equipment in Romeo, MI.
Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement to neither purchase or use any model/make of track lift and nor for any particular use.