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scissor lift safety tips

Using a scissor lift obviously has its dangers, just like using any other peace of modern day machinery. But, it still makes us cringe to think that users of scissor lifts still do not understand or adhere to the basic safety methods when using scissor lifts.

What may be a simple 5 minute check could prevent you from injury or even worse. So, to shed some light on the subject we have put together a list of ‘Do Not’ when using a scissor lift.

  • Do not drive near drop-offs, holes, or loading docks.
  • Do not raise platform on slope or drive onto slope when elevated.
  • Do not raise platform on uneven or soft surfaces.
  • Do not drive onto uneven or soft surfaces when elevated.

These first four points may be one of the most obvious but it happens time and time again where a risk assessment is not carried out at ground level first. The result can be deadly, and the picture below shows that. This picture was taken after a scissor lift apparently tipped over when it rode over a sidewalk grate, causing the grate to give way and the lift to fall over. It resulted in a young man loosing his life, which could have been so easily avoided.

boom lift fallen over

Source: NJ.COM

  • Do not use without guardrails, mid rails, chain, or bar in place.
  • Do not stand or sit on guardrails.

These are there for only one purpose, to help keep you safe. They are not there to sit on or used to gain the extra bit of height, they must be used correctly.

You must never ever think about using any type of lift that does not have the guardrails, mid rails, chain, or bar in place.

  •  Do not raise platform in windy or gusty conditions.

Speaks for itself really, never use a scissor lift if you are outside, with wind speeds of more than 25 mph.

  • Do not use ladder, scaffolding, or other devices to increase size or working height of platform.

As tempting as it may be scissor lifts or any type of lift for that matter where no designed to be used to accommodate additional working platforms. And, were certainly not designed to accommodate what these guys are doing below.

Using scissor lifts as scaffold

  • Do not override safety devices.

The safety devices are there for your benefit and should not be tampered with. In the worst case scenario, the override could go unnoticed and could be very dangerous.

  • Do not raise platform while machine is on a truck, forklift, or other device or vehicle.

This does happen from time to time and the main cause of this is down to contractors or users of scissor lifts just been lazy. The picture below is a prime example of that. Don’t do it.

Using a lift on the back of a lorry.


  • Do not use with damaged tyres.
  • Do not use with tires that are not per manufacturers, specifications.
  • Do not use if working platform is not working properly or if any part is damaged, worn or missing.

If you are not happy with the condition of the scissor lift, don’t use it. Tyres are the most important thing to check and if they look damaged or severally worn, contact the hire company immediately. The tyres are the only thing that will keep the scissor lift level, it only takes 5 minutes to check them and don’t cut corners.

  • Do not attach ropes or chains to guardrails or use as a crane.

The guard rails are not designed to cope with any type of load suspended from a rope or chain. There sole purpose is to keep the operator in the platform safe and from falling out, not to hoist loads up to another level.

That’s it. We hope you have found our scissor lift safety list useful, and if you spot anything that you think is un-safe report it immediately as you could safe someone’s life.



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Boom Lift Falls Of Lorry

These are the scary, yet incredible pictures of a road accident that happened near Zaandam North of Amsterdam. Not sure the Boom lift will ever be used again, but it really was a miracle that no one was injured or even killed.

Scissor lift crash

Scissor lift crash rescue

The large flatbed lorry was transporting the boom lift, when witnesses say the lorry was forced to avoid another vehicle travelling in the other direction. The flatbeds rear wheels skidded off the main road and ended up heading down the bank. The result was the boom lift was thrown from the rear of the vehicle into the bank and into a ditch.

It must have taken some time to lift the boom lift back up from the ditch and back onto the transporter.

Images courtesy of Vertikal

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Scissor lift safety alert issued

Together there have been five related fatalities throughout the last four years in Europe alone, the HSE has issued a safety alert warning users from the potential dangers that may occur if scissor lifts aren’t correctly operated and maintained. The alert from the  Health and Safety Executive is focusing on two specific types of scissor lift, the JLG 500RTS and 400RTS, that have been involved in the incidents in question. However, it should act as a prompt to all scissor lift operators, scissor lift engineers, training and rental companies to ensure that regular comprehensive maintenance and testing is carried out on scissor lifts.

The fatalities were a result of three incidents during which the scissor lifts were overturned. The failure of two systems in particular is considered to be at the root of the accidents. The first is the oscillating axle, which prevents the lift from being driven on uneven ground whilst the platform is raised. The second reason is the lift/drive interlock, which prevents elevation above a particular height without stabilisers, and driving whilst over this height, or once the stabilisers are deployed.

Health and Safety Executive - Scissor Lift Pre Use Checks

In an attempt to reduce the quantity of incidents involving scissor lifts, the Health and Safety Executive is urging those whom use or maintain them to carry out regular inspections. In particular, the lockout and safety cut out switches should be checked before use as well as forming part of the daily inspection and function testing. It is essential to ensure valves are operational and not stuck or corroded. Further to this, the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations states that any equipment used to elevate personnel should undergo a comprehensive examination every six months.

We don’t want to see any more deaths and the Health and Safety Executive will come down heavily on anyone who is not maintaining their scissor lifts correctly.

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Types of Scissor Lifts

There are more types of Scissor lifts than people may think. Scissor lifts are Mobile Elevated Work Platform or MEWP for short. Scissor lifts are commonly used to gain a safe working environment to high locations of a building or where ever you need to get too safely when working at height.

Tradesman who may use scissor lifts include electricians, who may need access to wire across a warehouse, or structural engineers who may need to inspect parts of a building or install RSJ’s. Scissors lifts are used all over the world, and allow people to work safely at height every day.

The types of lifts available to be trained on and hire are:

Hydraulic Scissor Lifts

These types of scissor lifts work by having pressurised hydraulic oil pumped around to lift the work platform up and down. Hydraulic Scissor Lifts unfortunately do have a bit of flaw. Because the hydraulic oil can be affected by temperatures, so in warmer weathers the scissor lift may operate a lot faster than in colder conditions. This problem only really occurs in older scissor lift machinery.

Electrical & Diesel

Electrical and Types of scissor lifts and the most commonly used types of scissor lifts. Electrical are used in enclosed spaces where it is two dangerous to us a diesel powered scissor lift because of the fumes released.
Diesel scissor lifts are used for outdoor use and can usually extend from 10 metres to right up to 18 metres above the ground.

Pneumatic Lifts

Pneumatic Lifts work by using air pressure. Pneumatic lifts are very eco friendly and efficient because the work by compressing atmospheric air. Most pneumatic lifts do not require any electricity and can be used in almost any working environment, so long as there is air readily available and require very little routine maintenance.

Scissor Lift Advantages

The biggest advantage of using a scissor lift is that they are easily manoeuvrable in a tight space and to do this they work in a very simple way that has never really changed.

Scissor lifts work by you a lifting mechanism, which when power is applied creates pressure to the outer edges to the bottom of the machine arms. This power will then create diamond shapes, within the arms. This pressure will then draw in both sets of arms, pulling them together and creating lift for the platforms.

There are much more scientific ways to explain how scissors lifts work which can be found here.

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Course Requirements

The Health and safety legislation (height regulations 2005) in the UK require that states that any job that requires a scissor lift or a boom lift must be operated by some one who is competent using a MEWP or Mobile Elevated Work Platform such as a scissor lift.

If you are looking to attend a scissor lift training course there are providers up and down the country who will train you up to the an IPAF level.

IPAF is the nationally recognised governing body dedicated to the training of MEWP, such as scissors lifts as well as boom lifts operatives. All of the providers of scissor lift training on this website are able to offer such high level of training to allow you to become IPAF accredited.

IPAF Scissor Lift Training Courses

Many of the course providers will be able to provide the scissor lift training at their dedicated premises. If you choose to carry out your scissor lift training at their premises you will need to bring a few things with you:

  • Personal protective equipment including  Steel Toe Cap Boots, Hi-Viz Jacket or Vest, A Hard Hat
  • 2 Passport Photos required for your IPAF card and your National Insurance Number.

What you may or may not need to bring can vary from course provider, so it’s always best to call in advance or ask when you make the book a scissor lift training course.

Lots of the providers featured on this website will also be able to carry out scissor lift training at your place of work, but again phone ahead and ask the supplier what they require from you to deliver an excellent level of training at your business premises.

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