“OSHA describes scissor lifts as machines that are “movable scaffolds.”  They can lift large, heavy loads that are well balanced, as well as employees, and are capable of moving them safely to and from high elevations.  There are several different safety requirements that apply to the maintenance and use of scissor lifts, because they are classified as heavy equipment.”  This is an excerpt from an article we published in August of this year.  Thankfully, a reader and friend from the United Kingdom has written an outstanding article that gives us a good perspective regarding safety and scissor lifts.  Please enjoy the following Guest Post:

5 Scissor Lift Safety Do’s and Don’ts

In operating heavy machineries it is important for the operators of these machines to be aware of the safety procedures and guidelines in order to avoid accidents and injuries. Safety should be the primary concern of operators when workers are doing their jobs using heavy machines. The time to finish jobs when following safety procedures will be longer but the risks will be lower and the chance of delay in the operation on account of accidents and injuries will be reduced. Also, the chances of lawsuits will be lower in cases of work related accidents and injuries if safety guidelines are followed strictly.

Colleges have been using aerial lifts for reasons other than their intended purpose. The most frequent use of scissor lifts is the filming of football practices to get an aerial view of college teams. This practice has been deemed unsafe because the person holding the camera might be blown over by a sudden gust of wind and there are no safety regulations and guidelines being followed to prevent that sort of thing.

A twenty year old has died because of the failure of university officials to set safety guidelines when using scissor lifts. Investigations were made by the university where the unfortunate incident happened and they found out after a few months after the incident that the policies of the university regarding the safety procedures and safeguards in using scissor lifts were not adequate to prevent accidents like the one that happened.  After that, other colleges have looked into their own policies when using machines such as these.  For the purpose of preventing accidents from happening when using scissor lifts here are 5 guidelines to follow.

1.       Use it for raised platform working, but don’t overload

Scissor lifts are just like any machine, they can perform the jobs needed from them but they also have a limit. Scissor lifts are primarily used for raising up things or people so they can do their tasks from an elevated platform. The weight of the things to be raised is a priority in safety because as the platform is raised, the base on which it is anchored becomes unstable as it goes higher. Once the platform becomes unstable outside forces like winds or a shake in the base will greatly affect the raised platform which can lead to accidents.

2.       Use it to transfer materials, but don’t rush

When transferring materials to high places it is always recommended to be sure and steady. As the adage goes “haste makes waste.” Caution should always be practiced when using heavy machinery and when dealing with machines that extend many feet above the ground.

3.       Use lanyards but follow the Ghostbusters’s rule (don’t cross the streams)

Lanyards are used as a safety option when operating machinery. It is attached to a worker’s wrist and in case the worker becomes incapacitated when operating the machine, the fall will enable the lanyard to pull the “kill switch” which is also attached to the lanyard and stop the machine from operating. However, another precaution should also be in place in order for the lanyards to be effective as a safety measure. Workers must make sure that their lanyards are not intertwined or are not crossing the streams as the safety precaution of lanyards will be compromised.

4.       Stay inside the guard rails, don’t over extend or stand on the rails

Persons who are tasked to be on the platform should always bear in mind that the guard rails are there for a reason. It is for their own protection to keep their bodies in the guard rail all the time. There are some circumstances and sometimes they cannot be avoided, that require a worker to reach out over the platform to perform a task. But one should be vigilant to not lean over or reach out too much to a point of over extending one’s self beyond the guardrails. Standing on the rails should also be avoided. The safety hazards of such act are innumerable and are subjected to every kind of outside forces that will cause a person to lose balance and fall. If there is an urgent need to go higher to perform a task it is better to raise up the platform itself rather than stand on the guard rails.

5.       Move the platform for different areas but not while the platform is extended.

When moving heavy machineries or any mechanical device for that matter, it is best to be cautious when transporting them from one place to another. The platform of the scissor lift should be brought back to its original place in the machine before moving the whole thing, just like when one would move a car or an oven, it is best to close the doors first so it won’t bump into other things while in transit. The same safety concept should be adopted when moving the platform of a scissor lift. In order to avoid accidents and injuries the extended platform should be lowered first before moving from one place to another.

In any job requiring the use of machines, especially heavy machinery it is very important to follow the safety guidelines while operating them. Operators should be strict in enforcing these guidelines to ensure a safe working environment for people using heavy machineries like scissor lifts. An unfortunate accident already happened because of the lack of safety standards in the use of scissor lifts outside of construction sites, like in colleges. The safety guidelines should be addressed by colleges when their students are using machineries like scissor lifts. There are standard safety guidelines to be followed strictly in order to avoid accidents when using scissor lifts.

We thank Allan Twillert, a Marketing Consultant that writes for Horizon Limited Platforms, a construction machine rental solution company in the United Kingdom.  For more information on Allan’s company, go to  It is an honor for us to hear from our friends in other countries who , like us, are very concerned about the safety of workers and students.