Nifty launches SiOPS


Niftylift, the UK based boom lift manufacturer, has launched a safety system called SiOPS - to help prevent sustained involuntary operation of the controls on boom lifts when the operator is crushed between an overhead obstacle and the machines active controls.

The SiOPS control panel is equipped to detect any significant load on the platforms controls or console, if a load is detected the machine will shut down, with the foot pedal and enable button deactivated.
This gives the operator time to consider his position, and then operate an override switch and operate the machine in a safe direction to free himself or move out of danger.

If for any reason he is unable to do this himself the machines lower controls can be used by those on the ground to lower the operator to safety.

The company has produced a short video that demonstrates the risk and how SiOPS helps prevent such a mishap resulting in an injury or fatality.

Aerial work platforms are inherently safe and have over the past 30 or more years saved thousands of injuries and fatalities by taking people off of ladders and scaffolds in applications that were wholly unsuited to their use.

However some accidents do occur with aerial lifts, the vast majority due to operator error of misuse. The case of involuntary machine operation through overhead trapping is such a case, it is mostly caused by operators not seeing am overhead beam until it is too late while driving backwards or lifting quickly in a congested overhead area.

So while it can be argued that a properly trained and alert operator will always avoid such an accident - It is a fact of life that humans make mistakes and in the worst cases die from it. On this website we report on a handful of such cases every year.

UK based contractor Balfour Beatty issued a bulletin in April 2008 that suggested that all boom lifts with shrouded foot pedals and unprotected control panels, would not be permitted to work on its sites unless they were modified to prevent the sustained involuntary operation of controls. It seemed to propose the fitting of a trip wire across the front of the platform tp prevent this.

The policy was later clarified however and no modifications that were not manufacturer authorised permitted.

While we have been against the fitting of items such as trip wires and extra switches, which we have considered to be dangerous and impractical, this solution from Nifty would seem to be an elegant and highly practical solution to the problem.

Although it does introduce at least one more thing to go wrong, Niftylift generally has an intolerance for over-complication and unreliability so one assumes that the detail of this design is both simple and robust.

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