Scissor lifts continue to cause preventable injuries and even deaths across the country. In the past one year alone, OSHA investigated more than 20 such injuries and 10 fatalities. In most of the cases, it was found that employers had not provided sufficient training on risks and proper use of the lifts.
In order to reduce these injuries and avoid the fatalities, OSHA is now directing employers to assess worksites well in advance and identify all potential risks in order to pick the right tools for the job. Employers must also implement proper controls that address position, stabilization, and fall protection. Furthermore, only trained workers with demonstrated ability to safely use the lifts should be allowed to handle them.
Safe use of scissor lifts include being able to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, the ability to properly maintain the equipment, knowledge of personal protective equipment (PPE), and being able to implement safe work practices.
OSHA has even gone ahead to provide several safety tips that employers can follow to improve worker safety when using scissor lifts;
- Fall protection
First, all scissor lifts must have guardrails. And, employers must train their employees to; check that the guardrails are in place before climbing on the lift, stand only on the work platform (not on the guardrails), and to keep work within reach so as to avoid leaning away from the scissor lift.
Employers must ensure that the scissor lift is stable and that it cannot tip over or collapse. This can be done by among other things; following the manufacturer’s instructions on safe movement, implementing traffic control to ensure that other equipment don’t come in contact with the scissor lift, and selecting work locations with firm level surfaces.
On a worksite, scissor lifts present crashing hazards similar to vehicles and other mobile equipment. It is the responsibility of the employer to train employees to be watchful; when moving the scissors near a fixed object, when the scissor lift and a moving vehicle are working in close proximity, and when the scissor lift has to be passed under a fixed object such as a support beam.
Finally, although scissor lift collapses are rare, measures should be taken to prevent any accidental collapses altogether. This can be done by; following manufacturer guidelines on loading, keeping the scissor lift away from other moving objects, and maintaining the safety systems designed to stop collapsing.