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10 Scissor Lift Safety Practices

Scissor lifts are well known for their safety. They’re used by businesses across the country thanks to their reach and their ability to be both used indoors and outdoors. Scissor lifts are a type of aerial work platform used in various industries such as construction, manufacturing, and facilities management. Their stability, ease of workspace, and solid platform all contribute toward a safe environment.

Importance of Safety in Scissor Lift Operations

However, scissor lift accidents still occur. Over the past four years, five people have lost their lives due to the equipment or tools they were using tipping. When investigated, it was discovered that the locking system had failed – something which may have been spotted if regular checks had been performed before the scissor lifts were used.

Top 10 Scissor Lift Safety Practices

1. Avoid Moving Elevated Scissor Lifts

This may seem obvious, but as one of the top questions Google has been asked in relation to scissor lift use, it seems that it’s something people are still unsure of. Moving a scissor lift whilst its platform is elevated, especially at great heights, is dangerous, even for those who are IPAF trained.

Not only could it encounter uneven ground and tip, or meet overhead obstructions and cause damage, but the weight distribution and working height of the equipment could also cause it to fall when moved. When moving a scissor lift that is in an elevated position, it’s important to ensure the area is fully scoped, that great care is taken and that the equipment is moved slowly and deliberately.

2. Proper Use of Guardrails

It is important to use the guardrails on a scissor lift primarily for safety reasons. Guardrails serve as a vital barrier to prevent operators from falling off the platform, especially when it is elevated. Additionally, guardrails provide a secure handhold for operators while the lift is in motion, reducing the risk of accidents due to loss of balance or instability. Using guardrails properly helps ensure a safe working environment and minimises the potential for serious injuries or fatalities.

3. Survey the Area Before Elevating

Surveying an area before raising a scissor lift is crucial to identify potential hazards such as uneven ground, overhead obstructions, or electrical wiring. By assessing the surroundings beforehand, operators can ensure a safe and stable working environment, minimising the risk of accidents or equipment damage. This proactive approach enhances workplace safety and prevents costly incidents.

4. Avoiding Environmental Hazards

Uneven ground can be a very real danger; scissor lifts require solid, flat ground in order to maintain their stability. Additionally, overhead electrical wiring should be avoided – a scissor lift and deck should be a minimum of 10 feet away from this particular hazard. An extension deck can provide additional platform space and improved reach capabilities, enhancing the functionality of the scissor lift.

5. Weather Conditions

The weather is the greatest enemy of a scissor lift when working at heights. Strong winds in particular can result in the stability of a scissor lift becoming compromised, in turn resulting in the scissor lift tipping over. It’s generally advised that scissor lifts shouldn’t be raised outside when there are winds stronger than 28mph, however it’s important to check the manufacturer’s wind rating.

6. Avoiding Use of Additional Height-Gaining Tools

Do not use anything on the platform to gain additional height (ladders, buckets, steps, etc.). If your scissor lift isn’t tall enough to reach the area your operatives need to work on, they might become tempted to elevate themselves that bit more by using a ladder on the platform. Not only is this ridiculously dangerous, but it can also compromise the weight vs height distribution of the scissor lift.

7. Ensure Proper Training

Only allow trained workers to use a scissor lift. Any workers who use a forklift (operate, move & work on) should have the correct training before they’re allowed to operate the equipment. IPAF MEWPs training is vital in order to gain a PAL (Powered Access Licence) and covers all aspects of scissor lift use.

8. Regular Maintenance and Checks

We cannot stress enough the importance of daily equipment checks. Previously, we mentioned the unfortunate incident where the failure of locking systems on scissor lifts has resulted in the deaths of five. Not only should checks be carried out before the daily use of a scissor lift, but the lockout and lift/drive cut out switches should be tested to make sure that they’re working correctly.

9. Avoid Overloading the Scissor Lift

Do not overload the scissor lift. This has been mentioned throughout the blog – the weight vs height dynamic of scissor lifts is a careful balance. Overloading or loading the platform can cause the scissor lift to become more and more unstable the higher the platform is elevated.

10. Use Ground Guides

Use ground guides when operating or moving a scissor lift (and always lock in place when stationary). Whilst you often have rather good peripheral vision when operating a compressed scissor lift, you can’t necessarily see everything. By having an additional body on the ground, you can have a guide who can see everything, advise you on dangers to avoid, and help to guide you safely to your destination.


Scissor lifts are essential tools in various industries, but safety is paramount. By following these top 10 safety practices, you can prevent accidents and ensure a secure working environment. Key measures include proper training, regular maintenance, avoiding elevated movement, and adhering to load limits. Environmental factors like weather and ground stability must also be considered. At Hitec, we prioritise safety through comprehensive training and maintenance services.

For more information or to schedule training, contact us at 01933 228 127 or email info@askhitec.co.uk. Let’s work together to maintain a safe workplace.

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