A Scissor lift can be useful on construction sites to help you and your employees perform work at height. However, without adequate training and health and safety precautions, they can also be very hazardous, leading to employee injury and claims under your Construction Insurance policy.
If you are hiring the plant for a specific purpose, you may assume that it has been correctly maintained, but it is still best practice to perform adequate risk assessments before you start operating the lift.
What Are The Risks?
Whilst scissor lifts can be extremely useful when working in small areas as they are easily maneuverable, they can also be dangerous when used inappropriately or by an untrained operator, or when not properly maintained and serviced.
Regulations require that all work at height on a scissor lift be planned properly, supervised appropriately and carried out in a reasonably safe manner.
One of the highest causes of death in Australia involve a fall from a height, which highlights the very real risk for you and your business.
Scissor Lift Risk Management Tips
There are a number of things you can do to manage safety effectively while using a scissor lift:
Always perform a pre-work inspection. Never begin work with a scissor lift without first making sure all its components are in working order.
Do not use a lift if you are not properly trained. Know the manufacturer’s operating guidelines—they’re meant to ensure safety and save lives.
Never operate a scissor lift in inclement weather. Wind can easily knock down a raised scissor lift. If the forecast calls for rain or gusty conditions, avoid using the scissor lift outdoors. Most scissor lifts have a wind rating of 12.5 m/s or lower.
Do not overload the lift. Check the lift’s specifications to determine how much weight can be loaded onto the platform. Never exceed this number — it could cause the lift to tip over.
Always keep the lift lowered when moving. Moving on uneven land could cause the lift to tip over if raised. Always follow the manufacturer’s safe operating guidelines.
Do not stand or lean against guardrails. Move closer to your target to avoid breaking the guardrails, which are not meant to be weight-bearing.
Select work locations that are clear of electrical power sources. The lift should be clear of power lines, transformers and other overhead hazards, such as branches and overhangs.
Avoid performing work on an unstable or uneven surface. These hazards include drop-offs, holes, slopes, bumps, ground obstructions and debris.
Always set the brakes before lifting. Brakes add an extra layer of security to prevent the lift from moving.
Don’t be complacent. Always keep safety in mind when using any type of lift. Accidents can happen at any time.
If you feel uncomfortable in any way, don’t use the lift. Being unfamiliar with a lift can lead to improper use and injury. If you are unsure whether you can properly operate a scissor lift, tell a supervisor.
Lifting Equipment Regulations
More specific regulations apply to lifting equipment. Under these regulations you need to ensure that a scissor lift is operated by a competent person, who is appropriately supervised, and that all work is carried out in a safe manner.
The scissor lift should be fit for purpose, suitably marked and subject to a statutory inspection every six months. Records must be kept of all inspections and appropriate action taken on any defects.
Scissor Lift Insurance
Insurance cover will normally be required for the scissor lift itself (for example against theft or accidental damage), plus public liability insurance for any damage to property, or injury to third parties, whilst using the lift. Similarly, employers liability cover can be extended providing indemnity should one of your employees fall or be injured whilst working on the lift.
If you are hiring a scissor lift, check carefully to ensure you are aware who is responsible for insuring the lift itself. This will either be covered by the plant hire company or alternatively you will be responsible for arranging the cover yourself.
If you are responsible for arranging the insurance, then typically this can be added to your existing Construction Insurance as Plant Hired-In.
If you decide to purchase the lift outright, cover can be simply arranged on either an individual basis or as part of a plant insurance package.
Engineeering & Inspection Insurance
If you own the scissor lift you will also be responsible for arranging the bi-annual inspections to meet regulations, all of which can be arranged as part of an Engineering and Inspection policy.
Inspection cover can be arranged for both individual items or all your plant and equipment under a single policy.
Whilst all Construction firms will arrange Public and Employers Liability cover, it is important to notify your insurers if you will be using a scissor lift or other specific plant and equipment. Many Public Liability Insurance policies will carry a height restriction or other similar warranties, as such you need to ensure that your insurer is comfortable with your activities and you can meet any specified requirements before work commences.