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Operate a scissor lift safely

What you need to know when hiring or using a scissor lift

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.

Plant Insurance

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.

Public Liability

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.

Duralift will always make sure you are covered in training, and provide free equipment insurance for the hire duration.

11 thoughts on “What you need to know when hiring or using a scissor lift

  1. I liked that you included information for scissor lift insurance. It seems like it would be a good idea to insure construction equipment like scissor lifts. It’s good to know that this kind of coverage will also cover injury to third parties, so it’s easy to see why companies would benefit from having their scissor lifts insured.

  2. I definitely agree that, if you’re going to work with a scissor lift, then you have to be properly trained and understand all of the safety precautions associated with working with one. As the article points out, it’s important not to overload the lift either and you need to pay attention to the recommended weights that that model suggests. Trying to go over the weight limit could have dire consequences and might even cause the lift to tip over creating a disaster.

  3. I think it would be smart to get insurance for the scissor lift. I haven’t ever had problems with those lifts but it would be helpful to get some protection in case something goes wrong. I also think it would be smart to have the right license to operate the lift.

  4. Scissor lifts can be useful tools for construction projects, but it seems they’re most effective when they’re handled properly. I think you’re right about how making sure that it’s operated by someone who’s certified and while being supervised seems like a great way to make sure that it’s used safely. Making sure that the work environment is done on a stable and clear surface is another great tip, so that should be checked before any work is done with a scissor lift. Thanks for the tips! http://www.toweraccess.com.au/aluminium-scaffold-adelaide

  5. There are more types of insurance for lifting equipment than I realized. I guess it makes sense that you would need insurance on something so big. Your safety tips are great and I like that you mentioned to add the extra security by braking before lifting. Thanks!

  6. I think these are some great safety tips to keep in mind when using a scissor lift. It’s important to follow necessary precautions to ensure that the lift doesn’t fall over. Like you said, only using the lift in good weather and following the weight specifications are ways to prevent tips and falls. Thanks for the article!

  7. I like your tip to never operate a scissor lift in inclement weather. Two years ago when we were painting our house I was on a scissor lift when it was windy and it was shaking and leaning like crazy. If you value your safety you’ll take every precaution against a scissor lift tipping over, even if that means stalling your project for a bit. Great tips!

  8. I had no idea there were insurance policies that covered operations with scissor lifts. I’d imagine that it’s very important for companies to have the insurance because of the many possible accidents that can happen with scissor lifts. I’ve heard that there are tethers you can use to attach people safely to the scissor lifts so they don’t have a nasty fall, is that common practice?

  9. My cousin is thinking about getting a scissor lift to help her with a renovation project. Thanks for the information about how you should be careful to not overload the lift as it could cause it to tip over. Another thing to consider is to get a scissor lift from a company that is known for being reliable.

  10. Thanks for the information on how to operate a forklift safely. I am very interested in learning how to do this so that if my job ever fails me, I will have something to do for work. With that being said, I had no idea that you should only work in areas that are clear of power lines or even slopes. Thanks for the information!

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