Scissor lifts are a type of aerial work platform (AWP) that is used to lift workers and equipment to heights for various tasks. These machines have a scissor-like mechanism that extends vertically, providing a stable platform for workers to work on. Scissor lifts are commonly used in construction, maintenance, and industrial settings, and proper safety precautions must be taken to prevent accidents and injuries.

There are different types of scissor lifts available in the market, varying in size, power source, and terrain capabilities. These include:

  1. Electric Scissor Lifts: These are powered by electricity and are ideal for indoor use due to their low noise and emission levels.
  2. Diesel Scissor Lifts: These are powered by a diesel engine and are suitable for outdoor use due to their rough terrain capabilities.
  3. Rough Terrain Scissor Lifts: These are designed for use on uneven and rough surfaces, making them ideal for outdoor construction and maintenance work.

While scissor lifts offer convenient and efficient access to high areas, they can also pose significant hazards if not operated safely. Some of the main hazards associated with scissor lifts include:

  1. Falls from Height: Workers can fall from the platform due to a lack of proper fall protection or misuse of equipment.
  2. Tip-overs: Scissor lifts can tip over due to uneven surfaces, overloading, or improper operation, causing serious injuries or even death.
  3. Electrocution: Workers may get electrocuted if the scissor lift comes in contact with overhead power lines.
  4. Collisions: Accidents can occur if the scissor lift collides with other equipment or structures.

To prioritize safety when operating a scissor lift, the following best practices should be followed:

  1. Conduct Proper Training and Certification: Workers should be trained and certified to operate a scissor lift and be aware of safety protocols.
  2. Perform Pre-Use Inspections: Inspect the scissor lift before each use to ensure it is in good working condition.
  3. Use Fall Protection Equipment: Workers should wear a harness and lanyard attached to an anchor point on the platform to prevent falls.
  4. Follow Manufacturer’s Instructions: Adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines for operating the scissor lift.
  5. Be Mindful of Weight Limits: Do not exceed the weight limit of the scissor lift, including the weight of workers, tools, and materials.
  6. Avoid Overloading the Platform: Distribute weight evenly and do not exceed the platform’s capacity.
  7. Use Outriggers or Stabilizers When Required: Deploy outriggers or stabilizers on uneven surfaces to ensure stability.
  8. Be Aware of Surroundings and Potential Hazards: Pay attention to potential hazards such as overhead power lines, drop-offs, and debris on the ground.
  9. Communicate with Other Workers: Maintain clear communication with other workers on the ground to ensure their safety.
  10. Perform Regular Maintenance and Inspections: Schedule regular maintenance and inspections to ensure the scissor lift is in safe working condition.

What Are Scissor Lifts?

Scissor lifts are aerial work platforms used to elevate workers to different heights in a variety of industries. They are equipped with crisscrossing supports, known as a scissor mechanism, to provide vertical lift. Workers use scissor lifts for tasks such as maintenance, construction, and installation, enhancing efficiency and safety at elevated work sites.

What Are the Different Types of Scissor Lifts?

When it comes to working with scissor lifts, safety should always be the number one priority. But before we dive into best practices for operators and workers, let’s first take a closer look at the different types of scissor lifts. From electric to diesel to rough terrain, each type offers its own unique advantages and considerations. By understanding the differences between these scissor lifts, we can better equip ourselves for safe and effective operation.

1. Electric Scissor Lifts

Electric scissor lifts operate on electric power, making them environmentally friendly. These lifts are ideal for indoor use due to their zero-emission feature. They provide quiet operation, making them suitable for noise-sensitive environments.

2. Diesel Scissor Lifts

Diesel scissor lifts are powered by diesel engines, suitable for outdoor use due to their robust and powerful nature. These lifts are ideal for construction sites, industrial facilities, and maintenance tasks requiring heavy lifting and rough terrain navigation. They offer higher weight capacities and are built for stability and durability in demanding environments.

3. Rough Terrain Scissor Lifts

Rough terrain scissor lifts are specifically designed for outdoor use on challenging terrains, such as construction sites, uneven surfaces, and rough landscapes. These lifts feature larger and sturdier tires to navigate through rough terrain, ensuring stability and safety during operation. Equipped with powerful engines, they can handle inclines and provide enhanced mobility in demanding environments. Some models offer four-wheel drive functionality for better traction and maneuverability in rugged outdoor conditions.

What Are the Main Hazards of Operating a Scissor Lift?

When working with scissor lifts, it is important to prioritise safety to prevent accidents and injuries. In this section, we will examine the main hazards that operators and workers face while operating a scissor lift. From falls from height to tip-overs, electrocution, and collisions, we will discuss the potential dangers and provide tips on how to avoid them. By understanding these hazards, we can implement best practices to ensure a safe and productive work environment.

1. Falls from Height

Inspect the scissor lift before use to ensure proper functioning and stability.

Wear appropriate fall protection equipment such as harnesses and lanyards.

Adhere to weight limits and avoid overloading the platform.

Utilise outriggers or stabilisers when necessary to enhance stability.

Stay vigilant of surroundings and potential hazards to prevent falls from height.

To prevent falls from height, scissor lift operators should prioritise thorough equipment inspections, adherence to safety protocols, and continuous awareness of their working environment.

2. Tip-overs

Ensure proper level ground and stable surface before elevating the scissor lift.

Do not exceed the weight capacity limit specified by the manufacturer.

Inspect the lift for any damaged or worn components before each use.

Do not extend the platform or attempt to move the lift while it is in an elevated position.

3. Electrocution

Stay aware of overhead power lines, keeping a safe distance to avoid electrocution. Use non-conductive materials when possible to reduce the risk of electric shock. Regularly inspect cords, plugs, and electrical components for damage or wear. Utilise residual current devices (RCDs) for added electrical protection.

4. Collisions

Stay Vigilant: Keep a lookout for other equipment, workers, or obstacles in the working area to avoid collisions.

Use Safety Devices: Employ proximity sensors, alarms, and safety lights to prevent collisions with objects or people.

Communicate Effectively: Establish clear communication protocols with other workers and equipment operators to avert collisions.

Follow Safe Speed Limits: Adhere to recommended speed limits when operating the scissor lift to reduce the risk of collisions.

Regular Maintenance: Ensure the scissor lift is well-maintained to minimize the chances of malfunctions leading to collisions.

How to Prioritise Safety when Operating a Scissor Lift?

Safety should always be the top priority when operating a scissor lift. This section will discuss the best practices for ensuring the safety of both the scissor lift operator and surrounding workers. From proper training and certification to regular maintenance and inspections, we will cover all the essential steps for prioritising safety while using a scissor lift. By following these guidelines, operators can prevent accidents and create a safer working environment.

1. Conduct Proper Training and Certification

Enrol in certified scissor lift operator training programmes. Undergo practical and theoretical instruction on scissor lift operation and safety measures. Pass certification exams to demonstrate competency in operating scissor lifts. Obtain renewal certification as required by regulations.

2. Perform Pre-Use Inspections

Inspect the guardrails, toe guards, and platform controls for any damage or malfunctions.

Check the hydraulic system, including hoses and fittings, for leaks or damage.

Examine the condition of the scissor arms, ensuring there are no bends, cracks, or weld issues.

Test the emergency lowering system to verify its functionality.

Verify that all safety decals and labels are present and legible.

By following these steps diligently, operators can ensure the safety and proper functioning of scissor lifts before each use, preventing potential accidents and hazards.

3. Use Fall Protection Equipment

Wear a full-body harness and attach it to the designated anchor point on the scissor lift. Use a shock-absorbing lanyard to provide flexibility while working at heights. Ensure the lanyard length is as short as possible to minimize free fall distance. Regularly inspect fall protection equipment for any signs of wear or damage.

4. Follow Manufacturer’s Instructions

  1. Read and understand the user manual provided by the manufacturer.
  2. Adhere to the weight limits specified by the manufacturer for the scissor lift.
  3. Follow the maintenance schedule outlined by the manufacturer to ensure the equipment’s proper functioning.
  4. Comply with any specific operating instructions provided by the manufacturer for the particular model of scissor lift being used.
  5. Seek clarification from the manufacturer in case of any doubts or concerns regarding the operation of the scissor lift.

5. Be Mindful of Weight Limits

Verify the weight capacity of the scissor lift before each use. Confirm the combined weight of workers and equipment does not exceed the limit. Refrain from carrying items that surpass the prescribed maximum load. Consult the equipment manual for specific weight restrictions. Adhere to weight restrictions to prevent instability and accidents.

6. Avoid Overloading the Platform

Check Weight Limits:

Review the scissor lift’s maximum load capacity specified by the manufacturer.

Weigh the Load:

Use scales to measure the weight of all materials and personnel being lifted.

Limit Load Capacity:

Ensure that the total weight on the platform never exceeds the specified limit.

Consider Attachment Weight:

Account for the weight of any tools or attachments added to the platform.

Regular Checks:

Periodically re-evaluate the weight on the platform to avoid overloading.

7. Use Outriggers or Stabilizers When Required

Deploy outriggers or stabilisers on uneven or sloping surfaces. Ensure outriggers are extended fully and locked before elevating the platform. Stabilisers should be positioned on solid ground and checked for firmness. Verify that the scissor lift is level and stable before operation.

Did you know? Using outriggers or stabilisers on scissor lifts enhances stability and minimises the risk of tip-overs.

8. Be Aware of Surroundings and Potential Hazards

Check for overhead obstructions or power lines.

Be cautious of uneven or sloping terrain.

Watch out for floor debris or slippery surfaces.

Be mindful of other workers, machinery, or vehicles in the vicinity.

Be aware of weather conditions that could affect stability or visibility.

9. Communicate with Other Workers

Communicate effectively with other workers to ensure everyone is aware of the scissor lift operation and its movement. Use clear and concise signals to coordinate activities and avoid accidents.

Establish a communication protocol, such as two-way radios or hand signals, to convey important information during operation. Effective communication among workers is crucial for safe scissor lift operation. It helps in coordinating movements, preventing collisions, and ensuring overall workplace safety.

10. Perform Regular Maintenance and Inspections

Check hydraulic fluid levels and top up if necessary.

Inspect the platform and guardrails for any signs of damage.

Examine the wheels, tyres, and brakes for wear and tear.

Test all safety features, including emergency lowering systems and alarm systems.

Check the battery and charging systems for electric scissor lifts.

Pro-tip: Keep a detailed log of all maintenance and inspections for reference and compliance purposes.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a scissor lift and what are its uses?

A scissor lift is a type of mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) that moves vertically using a scissor-like mechanism. It is commonly used in construction sites, warehouse management, building maintenance, retail and inventory, public works, events and entertainment, and transportation tasks.

2. What are the alternative solutions for using scissor lifts?

Aerial lifts are an alternative solution to scissor lifts, but they have different capabilities and limitations. It is important to have a thorough understanding of both options and prioritize safety in the decision-making process.

3. What are the significant safety risks associated with scissor lifts?

Scissor lifts can present significant safety risks if not operated or maintained correctly. These risks include electric shocks, falls from heights, and potential collisions with overhead structures. It is crucial to have proper safety measures in place to minimize these risks.

4. What are some safety concerns to consider when using scissor lifts in the television industry?

Scissor lifts are often used in the television industry for tasks such as setting up stages, changing displays, and trimming trees. However, these tasks can pose a grave danger if proper safety protocols are not followed. It is important to have a robust safety culture, strict adherence to safety guidelines, and proper training for all workers using scissor lifts in this industry.

5. What are the safety requirements for using scissor lifts in public works or elevated public structures?

For workers using scissor lifts in public works or on elevated public structures, there are specific safety guidelines and regulations to follow. These include proper positioning of lights, designated anchor points for tie off, and having a strict no-tolerance policy for safety violations. Employers must also ensure that workers are trained and certified before operating scissor lifts in these settings.

6. What are some crucial refresher tips for seasoned scissor lift operators?

Even for experienced scissor lift operators, it is important to regularly refresh their safety knowledge. This includes always using personal protective equipment (PPE), such as a body belt and harness, properly securing materials on the lift, and staying within the safe platform area. It is also important to keep work within easy reach to avoid leaning and risking falls from the scissor lift.