Common Problems With Scissor Lifts

When using a scissor lift, or any kind powered access equipment, safety should be top priority. Scissor lifts are used in many different industries for providing access and height, as well as lifting and transporting people and goods. They are commonly used in shopping centres, events, factories, warehouses and offices. These aerial work platforms come various different sizes and styles, from narrow compact lifts for where access is limited, to large industrial sized platforms that need to reach up to 20 metres.

As with any equipment that is used to work at an elevated position, there are risks involved with using a scissor lift, but common problems and issues can usually be avoided by following good practice guidelines. Here are a few of the problems you might encounter when using a scissor lift:

Overturning and Tipping

If an aerial work platform (AWP) is set up and used correctly on ground that is suitable, then tipping and overturning should not be an issue. Ground assessments should be carried out before work commences to ensure that ground conditions and ground strength are suitable for the weight of the access machine.

Loose or uneven ground can be a cause for instability. If a scissor lift tips or falls on its side, its operators are likely to be seriously injured, even if they are using safety equipment such as a harness and helmet. Tipping is one of the most common causes of accidents when using an AWP and is often due to misuse, for example driving with the platform elevated, hanging equipment on the safety rails or operators sitting on the guard rails, all of which may affect the balance of the platform.

Tipping and overturning can be avoided by following the safety guidelines in the platform’s manual and paying close attention to any warning lights or alarms on the control panel of the AWP. Worn tyres and components on the lift itself can also be a reason for reduced stability, which is why regular maintenance and repair is essential for the safe use of powered access machinery.

Excessive Load Capacity

If the load capacity of a scissor lift is exceeded, the platform’s motor, supports or balance may be affected, causing machine failure or overturning. Check in your aerial work platform manual to ensure you are adhering to the load capacity. This includes the weight of operators and their tools and equipment. If you need to exceed the maximum capacity, then you probably need to look for a larger scissor lift to accommodate your requirements.

Inappropriate Use

There’s a reason for AWP guidelines – scissor lifts come with ratings according to where they can be safely used – and ignoring these guidelines can lead to serious injury or death. Indoor-rated lifts should not be used outdoors and vice versa, or you run the risk of a broken down platform or a serious accident. Some fuel types are dangerous when used in the wrong environment, and can lead to explosions, fires, leaks and toxic fumes. Always check that the fuel type you are using is safe for the location you are working.

Similarly, using a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) for a function it was not designed for is a risky idea. Most injuries and deaths that occur in the powered access industry are caused by operators using a machine for the wrong purpose.

Poor Condition

Scissor lifts and other MEWPs should be regularly maintained and repaired to keep them in good working order. Most powered access rental companies will provide a maintenance package with your hire agreement to keep your machine running well. Check your aerial work platforms every six months to ensure they are working correctly, and never use a scissor lift that is faulty or damaged.