At New Mexico construction sites, scissor lifts are employed to lift works vertically on a regular basis. This article covers safety tips to follow to keep construction workers safe when operating a scissor lift.
Work platforms, also known as scissor lifts, are utilized in many sectors, including construction, retail, entertainment, and manufacturing, to securely transport personnel vertically and to several different places. A scissor lift is not the same as an aerial lift because the mechanism that raises and lowers the work platform in a scissor lift comprises cross beams that move in a scissor-like manner. Even though extended and stationary scissor lifts pose similar dangers to those posed by scaffolding, the safe operation of scissor lifts is contingent on considering the equipment’s capabilities, limitations, and safe operating procedures.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigated several occurrences employing scissor lifts that resulted in ten avoidable deaths and over twenty avoidable injuries over one year in the past. According to the findings of OSHA’s inspections, most injuries and fatalities utilizing scissor lifts were caused by employers not addressing the following issues:
• Fall Protection
Employers must assess the work environment, during which they must identify all potential risks before selecting suitable protective gear for the undertaking. Employers who use scissor lifts have a responsibility to examine and put into place appropriate procedures that address fall protection, stability, and posture concerns.
Only workers who have received sufficient training should be authorized to operate scissor lifts, and employers should ensure that personnel can demonstrate that they are competent in the proper operation of scissor lifts.
To use a scissor lift safely, the equipment must be properly maintained, the instructions provided by the manufacturer must be followed, employees must be provided with the necessary training and personal protective equipment (PPE), and employers must apply safe work practices.
Guardrails are required to be built on scissor lifts to protect employees from falling.
Workers should receive training from their employers to:
Before beginning work on the scissor lift, it is important to double-check that a guardrail system has been installed.
• You are only allowed to stand on the work platform; the guardrails are always off-limits.
• Make sure the task you need to do is within easy reach, so you don’t have to lean away from the scissor lift. The platform of Work, Top Rail, and Middle Rail
It is the responsibility of employers to guarantee that scissor lifts are secure and won’t topple over or collapse. The following are some examples of safe work practices that may be used to provide safe and stable working conditions when operating a scissor lift:
- Be sure to move the lift only following the instructions provided by the manufacturer, which will often prohibit moving the lift while it is high.
- Place the scissor lift in a secure location and ensure that no other pieces of machinery may come into touch with it. Alternatively, apply traffic control measures.
- Choose workplaces that have stable, level surfaces and are located far away from any risks that might create instability (e.g., drop-offs, holes, slopes, bumps, ground obstructions, or debris).
- You are only permitted to use the scissor lift outside when the weather is favorable. Generally, the maximum wind speed that a scissor lift designed for outdoor operation can withstand is 28 miles per hour.
- Scissor lifts collapsing is uncommon, but it may be avoided if employers take the following precautions: • Ensure that safety mechanisms meant to prevent collapsing are maintained and not circumvented.
- Under no circumstances should the weight on the work platform be allowed to exceed the load rating specified by the manufacturer.
- Never allow anything else, the scissor mechanism to be used to elevate the work platform; this is strictly prohibited (e.g., using a forklift to lift the work platform).
- Prevent the lift from colliding with any other moving equipment that may be present at the construction site.
It is critical for the scissor lift’s operation to be positioned to eliminate any risks of crushing or electrocution.
Crushing dangers are prevalent in businesses that use scissor lifts, and surrounding employees may be exposed to these hazards, even those who are not working on the scissor lift. On construction sites, scissor lifts provide the same dangerous crushing threats as automobiles and other mobile equipment.
When a moving scissor lift is near a stationary item, workers should be trained to be cautious by their employers. Workers should also be cautious when a moving vehicle and the scissor lift are working closely together.
• The scissor lift travels underneath a stationary object, such as a door frame or a support beam, to reach the desired location.
When operating scissor lifts near electrified power lines, it is critical to position the lift in such a way as to eliminate the risks of electrocution, arc flash, and thermal burns. Electrocution is possible even if neither the scissor lift nor the worker contacts the power line itself because electricity can arc or leap from the power line to the other two objects. To ensure that scissor lifts are used securely, employers should implement the following safe work practices:
1-800-321-OSHA (6742) • www.osha.gov
• Establish procedures for controlling traffic near the scissor lift to prevent other personnel or vehicles from approaching it at an unsafe distance.
• When operating the scissor lift or transporting it throughout the workplace, be sure to make use of ground guides.
• Choose a place to work at least 10 feet away from any electrical power source (such as power lines or transformers) which does not provide any additional risks related to working in overhead conditions (e.g., other utilities, branches, overhangs, etc.).
• If the job requires the worker to perform work close to an electrical source, it is the employer’s responsibility to guarantee that the person is competent and has completed the necessary electrical training.
Employers must undergo routine maintenance by scissor lifts to guarantee that employees can use them safely (e.g., prevent the lifting mechanism from collapsing). In most cases, the maintenance and inspection instructions provided by the manufacturer will contain information on how to: Test and examine all controls and components before every usage.
• Check to see that all the guardrail systems are inadequate operating order.
• Confirm that the scissor lift will remain in place once the brakes have been applied.
Employers are required to offer workers training on risks, which may include instruction on properly operating with or near scissors lifts.
Instructions from the manufacturer on how to operate the scissor lift vertically and while it is in travel are the bare minimum that must be covered in training.
• The proper way to handle goods when utilizing the scissor lift and any weight restrictions.
• Other potential dangers at the workplace that employees using a scissor lift may be exposed to include coming into touch with electrical lines.
• Communicating any equipment issues or maintenance requirements to the appropriate parties.
The OSHA standard for scaffolding includes provisions for using several scissor lifts. Please refer to the OSHA E-tool and any other resources on scaffolding for any assistance with technical questions.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has established guidelines for the production of scissor lifts and their ownership and use. You may find them in ANSI A92.3-2006 (Manually Propelled Elevating Aerial Platforms) and A92.6-2006 (Manually Propelled Elevating Aerial Platforms) (Self-Propelled Elevating Work Platforms).
- The OSHA Fall Prevention Campaign
- Safety and Health Topics: Scaffolding, OSHA
- The OSHA Scaffolding e-Tool
- OSHA’s Fall Prevention Campaign
OSHA maintains compliance assistance specialists in various locations across the country. These specialists can provide employers and workers with information regarding OSHA standards, short educational programs on particular hazards or OSHA rights and responsibilities, and information regarding additional compliance assistance resources.
For further information, please contact the OSHA office in your area.
The On-site Consultation Program of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 250 employees at a site (and no more than 500 employees nationwide) to assist these businesses in recognizing and mitigating hazards that may be present at their workplaces. The on-site consultation services are distinct from the enforcement efforts and do not result in fines or citations of any kind. Visit the website www.osha.gov to find the location of the OSHA Consultation office closest to you.