Scissor lifts can be an effective tool when used properly in a warehouse. This machine is safe and reliable when used according to the manufacturer’s instructions; however, if used improperly, it can be a serious liability and cause extensive damage.
Your number one priority s an employer should be the safety of your workers. Without this prioritization, you may watch as your business closes in front of you. If an employee is seriously injured on the job it could result in hefty fines, halting production, and possibly even having licenses revoked, so this responsibility should not be taken lightly.
Since scissor lifts can be potentially life-threatening if used improperly it is crucial for employers to understand the machine and to be proactive in teaching proper protocol to all employees.
What is A Scissor Lift?
Scissor lifts are heavy-duty machines that double as both a vehicle and a lifting mechanism. The machine can be driven like a car and can quickly transport employees across warehouse floors allowing them to increase the efficiency of their workers.
What makes the scissor lift unique is that it employs a platform that can lift workers to a high altitude to perform various jobs. They are widely popular among various industries, most found in manufacturing, construction, and retail.
The machine gets its name from the beams that contract and expand to raise the platform. The beams are positioned diagonally across each other and move in a scissor-like fashion.
The Danger of Scissor Lifts
Scissor lifts are entirely safe when used properly, however, this is not always the case. The safety of the lift operators largely depends on full understanding and observation of the equipment’s capabilities, limitations, and general safety practices.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that ten preventable fatalities and more than 20 preventable injuries were caused by scissor lifts in one year alone. The agency further investigated these incidents and found the majority of the injuries and fatalities were a direct result of a failure to observe fall protection standards, stabilization practices, and/or positioning requirements.
Steps To Ensure Stabilization
- Do not move the lift horizontally while the platform is elevated
- Isolate the scissor lift from other machinery to avoid disturbance
- If needed, implement traffic control measures to safeguard the lift from traffic
- Avoid unlevel surfaces or uneven ground
- If performing tasks outside, only utilize the lift when weather conditions are good
- Do not use outdoors if wind speeds are near or above 28 miles per hour
- Do not use outdoors if winds could foreseeably arise sporadically
How to Safely Use Scissor Lifts
To ensure safety when operating or supervising a scissor lift, various assessments need to be accurately and continuously made by an individual who is educated in the proper protocol.
This responsibility predominately falls on the shoulders of the employers who manage scissor lift operators. If these assessments aren’t made, it is the employer that will face the liability of any damages made.
Safety Training for Scissor Lifts Will Inform You To:
- Ensure that the guardrail system is properly adjusted before working
- Never stand on the guardrails. Only stand on the designated platform
- Keep all tools and materials within easy reach while on the platform
- Do not lean on the edge of the platform
- Employers must ensure that scissor lifts are stabilized before use
First and foremost, before anyone is to operate a scissor lift under any circumstances, employers and the employees involved with the machine must be extensively trained. The training should focus on fall protection standards, stabilization practices and positioning requirements as these are the three root causes of preventable injuries from the lifts.
Once proper training is carried out, only trained workers should be allowed to use scissor lifts in any faculty. All employees handling scissor lifts must be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE), to further facilitate a safe working environment.
After these preliminary requirements, scissor lifts can be effectively used in the workplace.
If a business is utilizing scissor lifts, it is crucial to ensure proper maintenance on the machines henceforth. Scissor lifts should be inspected regularly by certified technicians. These inspections should verify that all aspects of the machine are in good working condition and that all regular upkeep has been maintained.
Compliance with these safe work practices is critical and must be personally guaranteed by employers.
Proper Positioning Procedure
Adequate positioning of the scissor lift is crucial to avoid serious damage. The most prevalent risk involved with positioning is to account for electrocution hazards and “crushing hazards.”
Crushing hazards refers to the danger of catching a worker in between a scissor lift and another solid area. Essentially, it is the risk of crashing a worker with a heavy machine.
A similar protocol also avoids collapsing dangers. The steps to prevent scissor lifts from collapsing include guaranteeing that safety systems are consistently followed and never exceeding the manufacturer’s stated weight limit of the work platform
The Deadly Importance of Proper Safety Training
The importance of following these procedures cannot be understated. This truth was made clear at the University of Notre Dame during the Fall 2010 college football season. It was reported that a student, who was also an employee at the school, was killed while using a scissor lift during a football practice.
The young man was attempting to film the school’s football team practice from a high vantage point to get a more exciting view of the game. Unfortunately, the student was not trained in scissor lift equipment and did not know the danger he was in. The lift was raised over 39 feet and the weather did not accommodate for this. The winds were reported to have been over 50 miles per hour that day and tragically, the lift couldn’t withstand the high winds. Tragically, the lift blew over and killed the bright young student.
What is even more tragic, is that this story is not the first or the last time that a life was taken from improper use of machinery. This story, along with many others, continues to serve as a somber reminder of the importance of safety precautions when dealing with such an intense machine.