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How To Safely Operate Knuckle Boom Lifts On Hills And Curves

Being able to operate knuckle boom lifts correctly is essential for ensuring your own safety as well as that of everyone around you. This is particularly important when it comes to hills and curves, as these lifts have a higher centre of gravity than other machines (even with their booms collapsed and properly stowed), which makes them more difficult to handle.

Common Causes of Incidents

There are a number of reasons why an accident may occur when driving on hills or curves, including:

  • Turning corners at fast speeds;
  • Turning corners with too narrow a turning circle;
  • Driving up or down hills too fast;
  • Driving too fast on slick roads or where spills have occurred;
  • Driving too fast in windy conditions; and
  • Driving without taking other conditions into account.
  • Centre of Gravity, Hills & Curves

When it comes to any machine that is taller than the standard car, its centre of gravity becomes a real concern for turning corners, driving up and down hills, and driving in general. The higher the main weight of the lift, the higher the centre of gravity. If the centre is unbalanced whilst turning a corner, you could lose control or even flip the whole machine over.

Making a turn at speed is especially dangerous as this usually causes the boom lift to lean away from the curve, allowing its weight to further increase the likelihood of it becoming unbalanced. The height of the peaks and valleys, as well as the conditions, can create problems when driving up or down hills. Wind can also become an issue at the top of a hill.

Negotiating Curves & Hills

In order to prevent accidents from occurring, it is important to understand how these lifts behave under certain conditions – and then drive slowly. Keep in mind that gravity and wind will both affect faster-moving machines more than they will slower-moving ones. By slowing down, you can reduce lean and the redistribution of weight, as well as minimise loss of control due to gravity.

When driving knuckle boom lifts on hills and curves, it is essential that care is exercised at all times. Serious accidents can occur when you don’t drive to the conditions – taking turns too quickly and driving up or downhill too quickly can both cause the machine to overbalance. This is why it is essential that your operators have been trained in how to use these lifts properly.