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Access 101

5 Tips for Safer Steel Erection Projects

Blog Posts - Jan 24

5 Tips for Safer Steel Erection Projects

Nate Hoover
Director - Product Management, Boom Lifts
JLG Industries

When erecting steel buildings, bridges and other structures, iron workers are the acrobats of the industry, pushing through potential fears to get the job done.

Whether iron workers are installing rebar, welding girders, or forming structural steel, safety is always a top concern—especially while working at height.

5 tips for safer steel erection at a glance

Data show that structural steel erection is one of the top 10 most hazardous occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Each year, there are 35 steel erection site fatalities in the U.S., according to OSHA. And workers in transportation and material moving occupations (including construction and extraction occupations) accounted for nearly half of all fatal occupational injuries (47.4 percent), representing 1,282 and 976 workplace deaths, respectively.

At JLG Industries, our machines are designed with the steel industry in mind. We understand the importance of safety in steel erection, which is why our access equipment is designed to meet the highest standards.

For example, our boom lifts have built-in features that increase operator confidence at height, from ground-level innovations like self-leveling technology to platform standards like SkyGuard® enhanced control panel protection. High-capacity and rotating telehandlers also add value by helping teams move, stack and lift prefabricated iron and steel—even on crowded urban job sites.

Let’s explore five essential tips and JLG solutions for safer steel erection and overall job site safety.


Choose the right boom …  and use it correctly

OSHA identifies the Focus Four Hazards as electrical hazards, fall hazards, struck-by hazards and caught-between hazards. Caught-in, or caught-between, injuries occur when an operator gets pinned between two or more objects.

SkyGuard SkyLine®, an evolution of JLG’s original SkyGuard technology, is designed to prevent an operator from being forced into the control panel. When the SkyGuard sensor is activated, the system stops all boom lift functions, then momentarily reverses most functions that were in use when the system was activated.

When the job site requires access into tight spaces at height, the JLG Mid-Rail Deck can provide the access to get the job done safely. The mid-rail deck is a step sitting on the platform mid-rail and allows an iron worker to gain 15-18 inches off the floor of a lift platform, and thread a machine between joists.


Apply sensing technology as your helper in the air

JLG developed SkySense® for boom and scissor lifts to provide operators with an added level of awareness of their immediate surroundings.

SkySense is an enhanced object detection system. When a machine is in use, strategically placed sensors establish warning zones and stop distances in the machine’s direction of motion. As the machine approaches the zone limits, audible alerts notify the operator.

Watch this video demonstration of SkySense®.

Select booms and scissors can add SkySense as an aftermarket solution or accessory.


Provide the right tools/systems for the job

Another concern in steel erection projects is having enough power to do the job without the risk of dangerous leads hanging over machine rails, potentially entangling with anything below.

That’s where two JLG accessories, SkyPower® and SkyWelder®, shine.

The JLG SkyPower system delivers the power needed to conveniently operate other JLG accessories, including SkyWelder and SkyCutter® packages. With the SkyPower system, you get a 7500W generator with a power cable to the machine platform, which offers flexibility for your needs at height. The system saves time and money by removing the need to move and reposition a generator and saving on fuel costs.

SkyWelder eliminates leads hanging over the rails and eliminates the unnecessary cost of having a stand-alone welder and power supply. Flux core wire feed capability is available. The 280-amp Miller® CSTTM 280 welder includes a platform-mounted amperage adjustment and provides power to accommodate stick and TIG welding applications.

Another important tool supports safety on projects that require a worker to exit the platform above elevation: the Bolt-On External Fall Arrest System. This system uses a cable that allows the operator to leave the platform and move freely without detaching the safety harness—always keeping the operator tethered to the platform.


Keep workers comfortable and prepared

Steel erection projects must go on, and that includes work during night hours or inclement weather. Dark and frigid conditions can be an especially serious safety hazard on a steel erection project.

Workers can better handle challenges from Mother Nature with JLG’s night and cold-weather packages.

  • JLG’s Nite Bright® package, suited for environments with low lighting conditions including mines, tunnels and nighttime applications, includes 40-watt lights to illuminate the work site, as well as lights for the area around the chassis.
  • The JLG Cold Weather Kit includes a battery blanket, hydraulic tank heater, block heater and glow plugs (diesel only). Your choice of -30- or -40-degree hydraulic oil is available separately.


Manage and maintain fleets

Monitoring how steel erection project equipment is functioning, and by whom, adds an additional layer of protection. It also is a fool-proof way to check equipment maintenance or repair needs and maintain machine safety on job sites.

ClearSky Smart Fleet™, the industry’s first true, two-way fleet management and communication IoT platform, standardizes connectivity, digitizes daily processes, and generates new opportunities and value. Equipment owners and operators can increase productivity through time-saving features: press a button to locate a specific machine on a crowded jobsite; receive immediate input on battery or fuel level, ignition status and more; perform diagnostics remotely; and immediately access product manuals, articles and information; and manage fleets from a single screen, no matter where they are.



Safer steel erection is a collective responsibility that involves a combination of well-maintained equipment, trained operators, robust fall protection measures, effective communication and adherence to industry regulations. JLG provides reliable, efficient and safe solutions for vertical access on the job site, and we’re committed to supporting you every step of the way.

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