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High-flying: Workstations increase productivity and job-site safety

Since their introduction in the early 1970s, the use of aerial work platforms, including boom lifts and scissor lifts, has become almost universal for overhead work because of their utility and increased safety. They give workers the capability of accessing hard-to-reach sites more efficiently while eliminating the time-consuming and tiring task of climbing ladders or erecting and dismantling swing stages or scaffolding.

As useful as they are in most situations, however, using aerial work platforms for some applications can create additional challenges on the job site. For instance, when workers on boom lifts need to use tools such as welders, concrete saws or pressure washers in the platform, they often place a generator and other equipment on the ground and run cumbersome and potentially dangerous leads up to the elevated platform. This creates a situation where moving construction vehicles or other ground-level equipment can run into the dangling overhead wires if they aren’t careful. Also, cables running from the generator and other equipment can present a tripping hazard to ground level workers.

New Tactic

This all changed a few years ago when McConnellsburg, Pa.-based JLG Industries Inc. introduced the Workstation in the Sky. The idea behind the concept was simple: to create a group of powered accessories that would make workers more productive while allowing safe operation from the elevated platform.

To accomplish this, JLG developed an integrated system that featured a self-contained generator mounted in the boom base with a power cable, along with additional air and water lines routed inside the boom from the base to outlets on the platform. This eliminated the dangerous cables hanging down from the platform and allowed the platform operator to power and operate a wide variety of optional accessories or workstations through simple connections on the platform.

The use of these platform-mounted workstations provided users with results that are beneficial in many ways. Not only did they create a safer job site by eliminating hanging overhead wires or leads, but they eliminated the need for additional equipment, such as a generator. They also increased productivity and efficiency by:

  • Freeing operators from ground-based tools
  • Relieving job-site congestion
  • Reducing noise, emissions and fuel consumption
  • Conserving platform space
  • Providing superior working conditions
  • Mitigating strenuous nonproductive activity
  • Reducing costs

How They Work

The basic building block for powered Workstation in the Sky accessories used in boom lifts is the SkyPower generator. It is a standard feature on JLG boom lifts with platform heights ranging from 60 to 135 feet (18 to 41 m) and is optional on all other combustion-powered JLG boom lifts. The self-contained generator provides 7,500 watts of power to separate 110-volt and 220-volt receptacles mounted in the platform.

The SkyWelder package is one of the most popular accessories used with the SkyPower generator. It includes a 280-amp Miller CST 280 welder positioned beside the platform control station and eliminates the unnecessary cost of a standalone welder and power supply. With the welder in the platform, workers save valuable time by eliminating the need to move weld leads or reposition a ground-based welder.

The SkyPower generator also is used to power the SkyCutter plasma cutter package and SkyAir accessory. The SkyCutter features a platform-mounted Miller Spectrum 375 Cutmate plasma cutter while the SkyAir accessory incorporates an onboard air compressor mounted in the boom base that delivers 13 cubic feet per minute rated (9.3 CFM delivered) air to the platform via an integrated airline at pressures up to 125 psi.

Some Workstation in the Sky accessories don’t require power from the SkyPower generator. These include SkyGlazier, a factory- approved glass and panel tray for safely transporting materials to overhead locations, and Nite Bright, an onboard lighting package that includes four chassis-mounted and two platform-mounted 40-watt lights.

JLG’s electric-powered scissor lifts also can be equipped with Workstation in the Sky packages to help electricians, plumbers and general plant maintenance personnel. Central to the package is a stowable bench; a 110-volt outlet on the platform; specially sized compartments for fasteners and connectors; and holders that can accommodate reciprocating saws, drills, circular saws and other tools. The Workstation is also available with a built-in 12-volt plug to power cordless tool battery chargers. A rail-mounted vise and pipe bender are also available on some models. Other options include an electrician’s reel, able to support six 500-foot (152-m) wire spools, and a handheld, 200-amp wire feed mig welder.

The Payoff

Since their introduction, Workstation in the Sky accessories have become known for their versatility, and their success has led to the emergence of many other manufacturer offerings of platform-based accessories. With the availability of these options, aerial work platforms are not only among the safest pieces of equipment on any job site, they are also among the most productive.

Bill Hindman is president of Industrial Marketing Services, Elk Grove Village, Ill. For more information about JLG Industries Inc., McConnellsburg, Pa., go to