Why is scissor lift safety important in construction?
Scissor lifts are a convenient addition to many construction sites and can help save time when moving equipment or building materials to different locations and heights. However, improper use of these tools can lead to a dangerous work environment.
OSHA investigated and found that most injuries and fatalities involving scissor lifts were the result of employers not addressing issues like fall protection, stabilization, or positioning. Keep reading to learn more about practicing safety around scissor lifts.
What are common scissor lift hazards?
What are the main contributing factors to scissor lift accidents?
Obstacles in the workspace
Similar to scaffolding, the main danger for scissor lifts comes with their height. Scissor lifts provide workers with a raised platform to work from and, while convenient, can sometimes lead to the lift tipping over due to its top-heavy design. This is especially true if the lift is positioned on uneven ground or in windy conditions. Lift operators should also never move the lift while in an elevated position.
Workers who fail to secure themselves or act recklessly can also fall off the platform if they aren’t careful. All scissor lifts must have guardrails installed to prevent falls, and employees should be trained on how to inspect the guardrails to ensure they’re properly in place. Nobody should ever stand on the guardrails or lean out too far over them, so always make sure that they’re positioned close to the work area.
How to work safely on a scissor lift
Here are some helpful tips to guide you through working safely around a scissor lift. You can also refer to your company’s employee handbook or the OSHA scissor lift guidelines for more details.
1. Make sure the scissor lift operator receives proper training
Only authorized individuals who have received detailed training on how to operate a scissor lift should use one in their work. It’s the employer’s responsibility to verify that the employees who have received training know how to put it into practice.
Training should also include a thorough reading of the manufacturer instructions for the lift to ensure correct operating procedures.
2. Use a spotter
A spotter is a second pair of eyes for equipment operators. They can help inform a scissor lift operator of what’s underneath them and around them while they’re trying to maneuver the worksite.
A good spotter can help prevent accidents by communicating to the lift operator through verbal commands or hand signals. For more information, refer to our spotter safety toolbox talk.
3. Inspect the lift
Safe operating procedures can’t make up for a damaged or improperly functioning lift. Trained employees should always inspect scissor lifts for defects or broken components before deploying it to a jobsite.
4. Clear the work area
The work area should be clear of obstructions, including on the ground and the platform. Not only do you want to make sure that the lift has space to maneuver, but you’ll also want to be sure that the workers on the platform won’t trip over anything while they’re working on the lift itself.
5. Use a scissor lift safety checklist
Having a safety checklist to refer to can be extremely helpful in guaranteeing a safe workplace. This gives employees a concise list of action items to take before starting any task that requires the use of a scissor lift, as well as something to refer back to while performing their job duties.