Scissor lifts allow workers to do their job high above the ground through the use of scaffolding that is motorized. Scissor lifts are used in construction, manufacturing, and even the entertainment industry. They are most commonly used in warehouses.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has, however, issued warnings about the dangers of scissor lifts. During a one-year period OSHA investigated 10 scissor lift related deaths and 20 serious injuries. The investigation revealed that workplace injuries were happening due to a failure of the employer to monitor the position of the scissor lifts, faulty fall protection strategies, and not stabilizing the lifts. In North Carolina workers’ compensation cases, it is not necessary to prove fault if an accident occurs. Still, the best workplace strategy is to take precautionary steps to prevent the accidents from happening.
OSHA safety suggestion for scissor lifts
OSHA recommends that employers use the following scissor lift safety measures:
- Train the workers. Only workers who have experience using the scissor lift should be allowed to operate the lift the lift. Proper experience also includes understanding how to maintain the lift if problems. Workers should have and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Workers should wear the correct safety equipment.
Workers must be trained by the employer on the dangers of using a scissor lift and how to work safely on or near the lift. Training should also include:
- Instructions on up and down use of the scissor lift and horizontal movement of the lift.
- Understanding what weight limits and restrictions apply.
- Instructions on how to use objects that are on the lift
- Protect workers from falls According to the Code of Federal Regulations, employers scissor lifts are required to have guardrails to prevent workers from failing. Employers should train their employees to look to see if the guardrails are in place before doing any scissor lift work. Workers should only stand on the platform – never on the guardrails. The employees should be able to reach their work easily so they don’t risk falling.
- Stabilize the lift. Scissor lifts shouldn’t bounce, move or shake. They should be stable so they won’t collapse. The movement of the scissor lift should match the manufacturer’s recommendations on usage. Lifts should move electronically to the right spot – they shouldn’t have to be positioned manually. Forklifts and other machinery should be clear of the scissor lift so the other equipment doesn’t bump into the scissor lift. Work locations should be on flat floors. This means no slopes, debris, obstructions, or hole.
If scissor lifts are used outdoors, they should be used when the weather is clear and not too windy. Winds 28 mph and more are considered unsafe.
In one notable case, a Notre Dame student who was working on scissor lift during the 2010 football season was killed while taking film of the football team’s practice. The student never should have been lifted up nearly 39 feet to film the practice because there were winds gusts of more than 50 mph. The wind gust is what caused the student to die.
- Properly position the lift. The scissor lift should not be positioned near any safety hazards or loose wires. A real danger with scissor lifts is that they can cause crushing injuries which pin the employee against a wall, a fixed object, or another piece of machinery. Anyone using the scissor lift should not be near:
- Fixed objects
- Any moving vehicles
- A support beam or a door frame
- Any place where an electrocution or electric spark can occur. This means extra care should be used when using the scissor lift near power lines or utility lines. Electricity can easily jump from a wire or cable to the scissor life killing or severely injuring the worker. Ground guides should be used when the scissor lift is in operation. The best solution is to be 10 feet or more away from any overhead hazard.
Employees who operate a scissor lift or who are positioned in a scissor lift should have electrical training.
- Properly maintain the scissor lift. Employers must routinely inspect their lifts to make sure they are safe to use. Maintenance should following the manufacturer’s instructions. The manufacturer’s manual normally includes instruction on how to:
- Be sure the guardrails are in working order
- Verify that the brakes will hold the lift in the right position.
Employers should report equipment defects and maintenance needs and warn the worker that the scissor lift should not be used until the defect has been repaired or the maintenance need has been fixed.
According to OSHA, workers should know they have the following rights:
- The right to working conditions that don’t endanger the worker or create an unreasonable risk of serious injury
- The right to get necessary training and information about workplace hazards and the ways to prevent harm – in an understandable language and vocabulary
- To be informed that OSHA standards apply to their workplace
- To review any records of work-relate injuries or illnesses
- To file a complaint requesting that OSHA inspect the workplace if the employee thinks the employer is not complying with OSHA rules and is not putting necessary safety safeguards in place. OSHA should keep this request confidential
- The right of the worker to exercise his/her rights without fear of retaliation such as job termination. If workers suffer retaliation for disclosing safety violations, there are time limits for bringing a complaint
The worker’s OHSA rights extend to scissor lifts.
Get help with your North Carolina or Virginia workers’ compensation claim now
Attorney Joe Miller Esq. has been fighting for the rights of injured workers for over 25 years. He has helped thousands of employees get compensation for wage loss, medical bills, and other work injury benefits. He understands the many different ways workplace accidents can happen and how to prove accidents were work-related. For immediate help, please phone attorney Joe Miller at (888) 694-1671. You can also reach him through his contact form.