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Why Scissor Lifts Should Only Be Used by Trained Operators


Only trained and authorized operators can use scissor lifts! Employees must receive training in the safe operation of the lifts so they will understand and avoid unsafe conditions that could lead to injuries.

Avoid tip-over hazards! Never alter or disable warning devices or limit switches - they are there to help avoid tip-over hazards. Survey the area where the lift will be used before moving or driving the lift to identify and avoid potential hazards such as curbs, pot-holes, excavations, or floor holes. Never use a scissor lift on uneven surfaces.

Scissor lifts are an excellent alternative to ladders and manually propelled scaffolds. They provide a safe and stable work platform when used in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations.

Scissor lifts can be a very safe way to reach great heights, but when operators aren't trained, they are complacent or careless, or they are not following safe operating procedures, things can go very wrong and become very deadly for the scissor lift operator or even those in the proximity.

The image below is from a fatality investigation where a 42-year old part-time laborer was killed when the scissor lift he was operating elevated and pinned him against the header of an interior doorway. NIOSH FACE Report 2003-01. The medical examiner's official cause of death was mechanical asphyxiation. The victim had received general safety training while serving in the military but had never received instruction for scissor lift operation. Hazard communication and safety training had not been provided by the employer.

Scissor Lift Dimensions

The images below are from another fatality investigation where a painter died when his elevated scissor lift tipped and fell over after he moved it into a storm drain. MIFACE Investigation Report #13MI091. The employer had been in business for more than 30 years and the victim was an hourly worker. The employer did have an accident prevention program and the victim had completed an aerial lift knowledge test. Safety meetings were held with employees weekly, longer monthly safety training was conducted and all training was documented. However, even with all those great programs in place, this incident still occurred.

Scissor Lift Accident Scene

The employer implemented several new safety initiatives as a result of this incident investigation, including:

  • Requirement to lower the lift prior to movement
  • A formal job safety analysis (JSA) must be performed prior to every job using a pre-task card. Prior to the incident a formal JSA was performed for work performed inside of a facility, but not routinely for outside work. The pre-task card is a 4” by 8” card with boxes for hazard identification and spaces for mitigation strategies.
  • Reimplementation of a former safety policy – monthly safety meetings are now held and attendance is mandatory for all employees.
  • Reviewed and updated the new hire booklet.
  • The firm implemented a stand down training event that is incident driven. When an injury occurred, the injury is now reviewed, causes discussed, and prevention strategies identified.

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