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. Their stability, ease of work space and solid platform all contribute toward a safe environment.

However, scissor lift accidents still occur. Over the past four years, five people have lost their lives due to the equipment 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.

Safety is paramount here at Hitec. To help keep you and your employees safe, here’s our top 10 scissor lift safety practices:

Scissor Lift Safety Practices

1. Moving whilst elevated

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 it’s platform is elevated, especially at great height, 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 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. Do not utilise the guardrails for anything other than as a safety barrier

The guardrails are the main safety feature of scissor lifts – not only do they help prevent operators from falling, but they also provide a handhold when the lift is elevating.

There could be the temptation for some to use the guardrail as an extra bit of height and climb on them like steps. There have also been instances where ropes and chains have been attached to these rails and used to hoist up additional objects – these are incredibly dangerous practices and could easily result in a fall, or even the scissor lift tipping over.

3. Be aware of where the scissor lift will be raised (uneven ground, electrical wiring, moving vehicles etc.)

Safe scissor lift practice should always be followed when deciding where to elevate the platform. The area should be surveyed and if there are any potential dangers, it should be considered unsafe to raise the scissor lift in that particular spot.

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 should be a minimum of 10 feet away from this particular hazard.

Moving vehicles are also a danger to be avoided – if there is a chance of any type of traffic coming too close, then the area should be shut down around the scissor lift, including barriers to ensure the safety of the scissor lift operators.

Scissor Lift Safety Practices

4. Take into consideration the weather

The weather is the greatest enemy of a scissor lift. 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 manufacturers wind rating.

Additionally rain and cold conditions can cause dangers of their own, if the platform becomes wet whilst at height, there’s a chance of an operative slipping over the guardrails. Always take the weather into consideration before operating a scissor lift outside.

5. 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 (as when on said ladder, the operative would be above the guardrails and more susceptible to falling) but it can also compromise the weight vs height distribution of the scissor lift.

If the scissor lift being used isn’t tall enough, then it shouldn’t be used for the job.

There are a great many different models of scissor lift available, some able to reach heights of up to 48 feet; if you’re in need of a scissor lift, they’re available for local sale or hire (short and long term) through Hitec. Call us on 01933 228 127 or email info@askhitec.co.uk for more information.

6. 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 and MEWPs training is vital in order to gain a PAL (Powered Access Licence) and covers all aspects of scissor lift use.

If you’re interested in IPAF or MEWPs training for any of your employees, or would like for them to have a refresher course, Hitec can provide you with the experts and you need. Our training courses are flexible and take place in hours that suit you and your business.

To book a training course, please call 01933 228 127 or email info@askhitec.co.uk

7. 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. These help stabilise the scissor lift and help to prevent incidents such as those mentioned above. Guardrails should also be checked to make sure that they’re in good working condition.

Regular maintenance should also be carried out to help ensure that your equipment is kept in tip top condition and work ready. We service our cars to make sure they work properly – the same should go for scissor lifts too.

Every six months, your scissor lift will also require a Thorough Examination to ensure that it is safe for use, in respect, an MOT for your scissor lift. If you’d like to book a Thorough Examination for your scissor lift, please get in touch today at 01933 228127 or by emailing us at info@askhitec.co.uk

8. 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 the platform can cause the scissor lift to become more and more unstable the higher the platform is elevated. Minimum equipment should be taken up by operators, for their own safety and to protect the forklift itself.

9. 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 (after all, you’re still working at height), you can’t necessary 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.

By having a ground guide or a scout, you not only eradicate any unnecessary damage to the scissor lift but you also help ensure your own safety. When you come to a halt, it’s vital that the lift is locked in place. Enforcing this is paramount to the safety of your operatives and those around them.

10. Safety first!

If risk assessment and/or company policy demands it, wear the appropriate safety gear such as a safety harness and/or hard hat.