All Terrain Lifts

August 5, 2018

All Terrain Lifts

When a project requires you to work from an appreciable height, safety and stability are of paramount importance. In previous articles we have discussed the uses of elevated work platforms (EWPs), both electric and diesel fueled. In this article we take closer look at all terrain lifts.

The difference between all terrain lifts and other access equipment is that all terrain lifts have automatic self levelling stabilisers, and are designed to be used in situations where the terrain is rough or particularly uneven. But they can also be used just as effectively on flat surfaces - hence the name ‘all terrain’.

All terrain lifts are available in both scissor and boom style. Scissor lifts only elevate vertically, but this limitation also means that they can handle heavier workloads as they are more stable.  Whereas boom lifts have vertical and horizontal reaching capacity, they tend to be suitable for lighter loads.

It is important to assess the type of terrain you’ll be working on to ensure that you can rent the right equipment for the job.

Rough Terrain

If you are working outdoors, on a sloping site or an area that is only accessible in a 4WD vehicle, it is likely that you will require an all terrain lift.

All terrain lifts use a measurement called gradability (0% - 40%), which determines the range of slope that a particular machine can handle. This measurement is useful when choosing which all terrain lift to hire, as positive traction control differs between models.




Here are 10 factors to consider before renting a lift:


  1. Working height - where will the work be performed?  
  2. People/tools/equipment - who is using the equipment and how will it be used? Which addons are required?
  3. Outdoor/indoor - is the job indoors or outdoors?   
  4. Jobsite terrain - what grade of slope are you working on? How consistent is the terrain?
  5. Tyres - Jim Hindman (spokesperson for JLG Industries) informs us that “you can select traditional pneumatic tyres or go with foam-filled tyres to avoid flats. High-flotation tyres work best in certain turf situations, and solid, non-marking tyres are designed for use on wood flooring or tile and marble surfaces.”
  6. Available power - how much grunt do you need?
  7. Working area access - are you working in a confined area, or are there any access issues onsite that need to be accounted for?
  8. Lift weight - what is the maximum weight you will need to lift? This will help to determine the specifications required.
  9. Bulky basket items - Eric Eccles, general manager of RSC Equipment Rental explains: “mechanical contractor customers, for example, often have large, bulky items in their baskets.  This application requires a wide scissor rather than a 32-in. narrow unit that would normally be used for getting into confined areas.”  
  10. Building access - is the building hard to access? Are there any narrow doorways or entrance passages that might prohibit larger vehicles from getting on site?


All Terrain Scissor Lifts

These are similar to traditional scissor lifts, but with their reinforced tyres and 4WD features, they are specifically built for use in outdoor situations where surfaces are uneven. Due to the fact that these tyres can leave marks, they are not suitable for use on finished floors and landscaped areas. As previously discussed, scissor lifts can be electric or diesel fuelled, and your specific working conditions will determine which one you should use.  


All terrain scissor lifts are more powerful and versatile pieces of equipment, and are mostly used in construction sites. The diesel models are much louder than their electric counterparts.  Diesel models have larger engines, and they are designed for much greater productivity in an outdoor setting. Electric models don’t always provide enough power for more demanding work environments.


Increased robustness and bigger payloads are often typical characteristics of the all terrain scissor lift. However generally speaking, the higher a scissor lift can elevate, the less payload it will be capable of lifting. Scissor Lifts provide workers with a more functional working platform than some other EWP’s.

An all terrain diesel fuelled scissor lift is ideal in the following conditions:

  • You are working outside
  • You have adequate space to maneuver
  • You are working on uneven surfaces like ungraded construction sites
  • You are working at a height of 6 metres or more where an aerial platform is necessary
  • Added base stability is required while the lift is extended
  • Multiple personnel are needed


“Scissor lifts and other elevating work platforms such as cherry pickers can be used as a means of access to a work area. In this case, the worker should be protected by a double lanyard system fixed to a certified anchor point.

On a scissor lift a harness should be worn unless a hazard assessment has clearly demonstrated that the work can be undertaken without a harness and there is no risk of falling. The manufacturer’s instructions should also be followed.”

- Worksafe NZ  -Working at Height in NZ



All Terrain Boom Lifts

Boom lifts provide both horizontal and/or vertical reach, which is especially useful when rough terrain or materials stacked on the ground make it difficult to get up close to the side of a building or structure.  Workers stand in a basket where they use the controls to move the arm of the boom. Once in position, they can carry out their work while in the basket.


All terrain boom lifts generally have a higher weight capacity and 4WD features allowing greater maneuverability.  Some all terrain boom lifts have built in self levelling technology to keep the boom at a safe angle at all times.

As there are risks associated with the use of a boom lift, it is essential that all operators are fully trained and certified.


Articulating Boom (Knuckle Lift)

The knuckle lift has a platform mounted on an arm which has a swiveling base to allow the worker to get around obstacles and awkward spaces. When a worker needs to access exterior electrical cables, piping, or to repair something on a building, the articulating boom lift will provide access to these hard-to-reach areas. They allow workers to reach up and over obstructions and are ideal for roofing jobs. Industrial lifts are suitable for indoor operations, and are often come with non-marking tires. Rough terrain articulating boom lifts are designed to navigate construction site terrain.


Telescopic Boom

In comparison, a telescopic boom lift is ideal for access to work from a distance — where the terrain or obstacles prevent close access. The reach is generally further on a telescopic boom than an articulating model.  The telescopic boom allows the worker to reach in any direction.


Telescopic booms have a standing bucket that is mounted on a straight, extendable lifting arm and the base sits on a turntable like an articulating boom lift. A telescopic boom lift can only accommodate one worker, so this type of lift is best used for specific tasks that a single person can handle, like electrical repairs and window washing. 


Other typical job sites that may require a telescopic boom lift include cell phone towers, window glazing & repair, heavy machinery maintenance, and power line work. Given their potential height capabilities, workers should be aware of power lines, high winds, and other hazards unique to telescoping boom lifts.


“In accordance with Worksafe NZ guidelines an operator in a boom-style EWP must wear a safety harness with a lanyard incorporating a short energy absorber attached to a certified anchor point. The line should be just long enough to provide free movement within the confines of the bucket.”

- Worksafe NZ  -Working at Height in NZ


We can help you to decide which lift will serve you best

As all terrain lifts are designed mainly for outdoor work situations, it is critical to assess the work site in order to make the correct choice of equipment hire. Our expert team is happy to help if you are unsure which model is best suited to your needs. Feel free to get in touch wit