Working Safely with Scissor Lifts
Scissor lifts provide a safe and reliable platform for workers to perform job tasks when used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When not used properly, scissor lifts can present a serious hazard to workers. Employers are responsible for keeping workers safe. This Hazard Alert highlights specific hazards present in workplaces where scissor lifts are used and controls employers must implement to prevent injuries or fatalities.
Scissor lifts are work platforms used to safely move workers vertically and to different locations in a variety of industries including construction, retail, entertainment and manufacturing. Scissor lifts are different from aerial lifts because the lifting mechanism moves the work platform straight up and down using crossed beams functioning in a scissor-like fashion. Although scissor lifts present hazards similar to scaffolding when extended and stationary, using scissor lifts safely depends on considering equipment capabilities, limitations and safe practices.
Over a one-year period, OSHA investigated ten preventable fatalities and more than 20 preventable injuries resulting from a variety of incidents involving scissor lifts. OSHA’s investigations found that most injuries and fatalities involving scissor lifts were the result of employers not addressing:
How to Safely Use Scissor Lifts
Employers need to assess the worksite to identify all possible hazards in order to select the appropriate equipment for the task. Employers who use scissor lifts need to evaluate and implement effective controls that address fall protection, stabilization and positioning. Only trained workers should be allowed to use
Scissor lifts must have guardrails installed to prevent workers from falling (see 29 CFR 1926.451(g) or 29 CFR 1910.29(a)(3)(vii)).
Employers should train workers to:
Employers should ensure that scissor lifts are stable and will not tip over or collapse. Some safe work practices to ensure safe, stable conditions for scissor lift use include:
Although rare, the collapse of scissor lifts can be prevents if employers:
Caution: Wind Can Make Extended Scissor Lifts Unstable
During the Fall 2010 college football season, a student who was also an employee of the University of Notre Dame was killed while filming the school’s football team practice from a scissor lift. Reportedly, the untrained worker raised the lift over 39 feet to film the practice. The wind gusts that day were more than 50 miles per hour. The high winds blew the lift over, killing the worker.
Positioning the scissor lift to avoid crushing or electrocution hazards is important for safe use.
Crushing hazards are present in workplaces using scissor lifts and may expose workers nearby, even those not working on the scissor lift.
Scissor lifts present crushing hazards similar to vehicles and other mobile equipment at worksites. Employers should train workers to be watchful when:
-Implement traffic control measures around the scissor lift to prevent other workers or vehicles from getting too close.
Maintaining Scissor Lifts
Employers must regularly maintain scissor lifts to ensure that they are safe to use (e.g., prevent the lifting mechanism from collapsing). Manufacturer’s maintenance and inspection instructions will generally include how to:
Employers must provide workers training on hazards, including how to work safely with or near scissor lifts. (29 CFR 1926.454). Training must, at a minimum, include:
Employers must comply with the following OSHA standards (29 CFR) to protect workers from hazards associated with scissor lifts.
-1915.71 – Scaffolds or Staging
Many scissor lifts are covered under OSHA’s Scaffolding standard. For technical assistance, please refer to OSHA’s eTool and other resources on scaffolding.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has standards for manufacturing, owning and operating scissor lifts. They can be found in ANSI A92.3-2006 (Manually Propelled Elevating Aerial Platforms) and A92.6-2006 (Self-Propelled Elevating Work Platforms).
How OSHA Can Help
OSHA has compliance assistance specialists throughout the nation who can provide information to employers and workers about OSHA standards, short educational programs on specific hazards or OSHA rights and responsibilities, and information on additional compliance assistance resources.
Contact your local OSHA office for more information. OSHA’s On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice for small and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 250 employees at a site (and no more than 500 employees nationwide) to help identify and correct hazards at worksites. On-site consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. To locate the nearest OSHA Consultation office, visit: www.osha.gov/consultation or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
Workers have the right to:
For questions or to get information or advice, to report an emergency, fatality, inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye, or to file a confidential complaint, or to request OSHA’s free on-site consultation service, contact your nearest OSHA office, visit www.osha.gov, or call OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), TTY 1-877-889-5627.
Many states operate their own occupational safety and health programs approved by OSHA. States enforce similar standards that may have different or additional requirements. A list of state plans is available at www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp.
This Hazard Alert is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards [and other regulatory requirements]. The recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content, and are intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to comply with safety and health standards and regulations promulgated by OSHA or by a state with an OSHA-approved state plan. In addition, the Act’s General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1), requires employers to provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm. The mention of any non-governmental organization or link to its website in this Hazard Alert does not constitute an endorsement by OSHA or NIOSH of that organization or its products, services, or website.U.S. Department of LaborOSHA logo