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July 2002 Scissor Lift Safety

While scissor lifts come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, they all lift a working deck primarily within the footprint of the wheels. When used properly, scissor lifts can be an important asset to overall employee safety. Scissor lifts provide a stable, elevated work platform that can greatly reduce back stress and improve personnel access to the work or storage area. However, when established safety procedures are not followed or safety features are not used, scissor lifts can become a serious safety hazard. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, falls and collapses or tip-overs were the most frequent causes of death in fatal scissor lift accidents. Between 1992 and 1999 there were 23 scissor lift deaths in construction due to falls, 21 due to collapses or tip-overs, and six from electrocutions. "In one-fifth of the falls, the worker was ejected from the scissor lift, mostly when the scissor lift was struck by an object. The rest of the fall deaths occurred after removal of chains or guardrails or while standing on or leaning over railings. Three-quarters of the tip-overs of scissor lifts resulted in fall deaths; for the rest, workers died from being struck by the falling scissor lift. About two-fifths of the tip-overs occurred when the scissor lift was extended over 15 feet, mostly while driving the lift," notes Michael McCann, PH.D., CIH, director of safety and ergonomics at the Center to Protect Workers' Rights. Accidents It only takes a split second for normal working conditions to take a disastrous turn, as the following accidents illustrate: A carpenter died after falling approximately 12 feet to a concrete floor at the construction site of a new building. The victim and a co-worker were using a self-propelled scissor lift to install 12' x 4' sheets of drywall when the accident occurred. The platform of the scissor lift was 8' long with a 3' telescoping extension. Since the drywall sheets were 12' long, the end guardrail had been removed to accommodate the sheets. The victim inadvertently fell from the unguarded end of the platform. An electrician died when the elevated scissor lift he was operating tipped sideways, throwing him to the concrete floor below. At the time of the accident, the electrician was repositioning a selfpropelled scissor lift. He accidentally positioned it with one wheel hanging over a hole 12 inches deep, leaving the lift balanced on only three wheels. As he walked away from the platform controls, the weight distribution changed, and the lift became unbalanced. The lift toppled, and he was thrown to the concrete floor. Standards Where scissor lifts are concerned, it is important to know the appropriate safety standards. OSHA does not have a regulation that specifically addresses scissor lifts. OSHA regulations treat scissor lifts as mobile scaffolds. The most applicable regulation is OSHA 29CFR 1926.453. More specific standards can be found in ANSI/SIA A92.3 Manually Propelled Elevating Aerial Platforms and ANSI/SIA A92.6 Self Propelled Elevating Work Platforms. These standards clearly define responsibilities for owners, users, operators and all other parties involved in the use of this equipment. Environment Before beginning any job, assess the task and work environment. Scissor lifts (also known as aerial lifts) are made with a wide variety of features. Make sure the equipment matches the limits of the work site. Some units are best suited for hard, flat indoor surfaces while others have leveling devices to compensate for uneven, sloping exterior grounds. The size of the platform, the extension height as well as the load and weight limits should be considered when selecting the appropriate scissor lift. Use specialized scissor lifts

whenever work must be performed near energized conductors or explosive atmospheres where combustibles might be ignited by fueling, battery charging, welding or cutting. Continued Maintenance Following the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule for your scissor lift is critical for the safety of your employees. Conduct annual inspections as well as pre-operation checks before each use. Proper maintenance and inspections are a particular concern with rented lifts. Adequate downtime should be scheduled for maintenance and inspections on long-term rentals. A worker's life often depends upon the piece of equipment functioning properly. Both the operator manual and ANSI Manual of Responsibilities should be kept with the scissor lift. Maintenance and parts manuals must accompany a scissor lift every time it is sold to a new owner. Training Much like the powered industrial truck, operating a scissor lift requires proper training by a competent instructor. Dealers are required to familiarize the customer with the equipment upon delivery and to offer operator training to customers. But it is the employer's responsibility to see that all operators receive the proper training and retraining, as needed, to safely operate a scissor lift. Basics Here are some basic safety suggestions to consider: · Before starting a job, carefully examine the work area for hazards. Check traveling surfaces for obstacles or holes, and barricade any hazards. Also look for overhead obstructions once the platform is raised, especially electrical wires. · If other people or vehicles will be moving near the scissor lift, properly barricade the lift. Being struck by another vehicle (such as a fork lift) can knock the worker from an extended platform and lead to serious injury or death. · Do not move a scissor lift with the platform extended unless the unit is specifically designed to do so. · Be sure the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. · Never climb on guardrails to gain greater height. · Never use ladders, planks, steps or other devices on the platform to extend platform height. · Take adequate precautions to prevent falls if guardrails have been temporarily removed. Fall arrest/travel restraint equipment should be used in these circumstances. · While OSHA's minimum standards do not require the use of fall restraints on scissor lifts, an employer who chooses to require fall restraints must see that the proper anchorage point is used per the manufacturer's specifications. Guardrails are not designed for this purpose. Conclusion With proper training and careful attention to safety features, your crew can use scissor lifts as an asset in their work. When workers neglect or abuse established safety procedures, a scissor lift can become a death trap in a matter of seconds. Respect the danger, reduce the risk and stay safe. ________________

References and Additional Resources · Deaths from Aerial Lifts by Michael McCann, Ph.D., CIH; The Center to Protect Worker's Rights. The full report may be found at d0400/d000484/d000484.html · Hazard Alert: Worker Dies After Falling From an Elevating Work Platform (Scissor Lift), Prevention Services, Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission, New Brunswick, Canada, publications/publicati ons.htm · Check traveling surface before moving scissor lifts poster, Workers' Compensation Board, 99-02, · Guidelines for the Use of Elevating Work Platforms (Scissor Lifts) and Aerial Extendible Boom Platforms, Safety Bulletin No. 22, Industry Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee, · Choosing safety: AWP safety involves the right choice of equipment, by Dave Merrifield, · Aerial lift training: Taking responsibility means knowing the standard, by Denise J. Alamonte, · Clarity and common sense: Downsides to tying off on scissor lifts, by Ken Howarth,

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