For painting crews, one of the most useful tools on a construction site is a scissor lift, which enables technicians to safely perform their work at heights.
They are easy to maneuver in small spaces and have a greater reach than traditional ladders and platforms. Because they add such convenience, they are a favorite piece of equipment across the industry. There is a negative side to using scissor lifts, however,
due to risks and injury potential inherent in usage of any piece of large industrial equipment. Although companies that hire out these lifts are required by law to keep up maintenance on them, it is incumbent upon those who rent them to do their own due diligence in reducing any possible risks. When operated incorrectly, by an individual who has not been adequately trained, or when the unit has not been kept
maintained and serviced properly and up-to-date, accidents can happen. Safe Work Australia reports that over the past decade, an average of over 10% of deaths that occur in the workplace are a result of falls from a height. This is why scissor lift usage is highly regulated and requires proper planning, supervision, and safe operation.
If your project requires the use of a scissor lift, consider the following items in order to complete your work most safely and efficiently:
Before hiring a scissor lift, check to make sure it has been properly maintained and serviced. Hiring companies should have a current record of service. Inspect the unit prior to beginning your project. It may be prudent to do these several days prior to the project start date, in case the lift needs maintenance or repair.
All parts of the lift should be accounted for and working properly. This inspection should be done whether you are using a rented lift or your
own company’s unit.
In preparing the unit for use, be sure to choose a work space that is safe from other risks, such as power lines, generators, building awnings, or trees.
Be sure to make sure the brake is engaged before raising the lift, as well, securing the unit in place. Moving the scissor lift while raised may create a tipping risk.
Manufacturer guidelines suggest working on even, stable surfaces as well. Areas near drop-offs or cliffs, holes, slopes, bushes, or
other obstructions are hazardous and should be avoided.
Scissor lifts should not be used in bad weather. The center of balance on a raised lift is changed in such a way that a strong wind can easily tip it over.
Do not use a lift outside if the forecast suggests a windy day. The manufacturer guidelines will include the wind rating, which is usually quite low.
Once you have the unit secured in place and inspected for safety, you can begin using it. Proper training is required to run the lift correctly.
The instructions on the unit are designed to ensure safety, so knowing them and following them should be a priority. Some of these directions may include not leaning against or standing on the rails, as they are not meant to handle the weight of the operator.
Manufacturer guidelines should also include a weight capacity. It is important not to exceed that amount, or the lift can become top heavy when raised, causing a tip risk and endangering the life of the operator.
Ultimately, safety should be your first thought through all aspects of scissor lift usage.
Accidents are just that – accidental, and taking as many precautions as possible will be helpful in avoiding them. If you feel
unqualified, or do not understand the manufacturer instructions, do not operate the lift.
A few notes on insurance regarding usage of scissor lifts:
Before hiring a lift, it’s important to know which party is responsible for providing insurance on the unit. It is often the hire company, but it is sometimes the responsibility of the person hiring the lift.
If you are responsible, you will likely be able to add the insurance for the lift onto your existing construction plan.
If you own the lift and are hiring it out, you can choose to provide ongoing insurance on it, or require that the hiring party provides insurance.
In addition to insurance on the unit itself, as a scissor lift owner, you will be required to have it inspected biannually, per Australian regulations. You may arrange each inspection as it is due, or you can include it in an Engineering and Inspection insurance policy. This coverage can be arranged per piece of equipment or for all of your shop and property.
Lastly, it should be noted that Public Liability policies will have different requirements and limitations regarding usage of scissor lifts, including height restrictions.
Notify your insurance company that you will be using a lift, or other industrial equipment, in order to be sure that you will have adequate
These tips should help you use your scissor lift most effectively and efficiently for the job. Remember, focus on maintenance and safety, proper training, and adequate insurance coverage.
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