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The Early Origins Of Elevated Work Platforms

The Early Origins Of Elevated Work Platforms

As warehouses, supply chains and construction sites are only getting taller, increasingly capable electric scissor lifts are becoming an essential part of a growing number of businesses for a growing number of purposes.

Before the development of the modern aerial work platform, there were pioneering technologies that came before it such as the initial cherry picker developed in 1944.

However, there has always been a need for people to have an easy way to reach higher locations, either for work and industrial purposes or to help save lives, and these developments helped to contribute to the development of the work platform we know today.

With the rise of the modern fire brigade in the 19th century as a public service to ensure that everyone (as opposed to just the rich) could be protected in case of a fire, cities and boroughs were looking for ways to help rescue people at height quickly in dangerous situations.

At first, the primary solution was also the most obvious; firefighters would bring a ladder manually to the emergency, and as buildings started to expand in size, these ladders also became increasingly expandable.

However, there is a tipping point where extendable ladders become so heavy and bulky that they cannot be carried, so instead they were placed into large wheels and wheeled into position.

Once fire carriages became established, these ladders would be attached to the back of the vehicle, leading to the distinctive look of early firefighters.

Technology moves quickly and by the end of the 19th century, the wheeled ladder had been replaced with a turntable ladder powered by carbon dioxide gas to cause it to lift, with a physical mechanism to rotate and extend the ladder in whichever direction was required.

This would later become the standard system for rescues at height for firefighters, with the early systems replaced by internal combustion engines once the first fire engines started to be rolled out onto British streets.

The final advance came in the late 1940s when these extending ladders were replaced by a cherry picker platform to allow for more versatile rescues.

Ultimately, this alongside the scissor lift is the primary mechanical method used to keep people safe at height to this very day.