Lifts Tips

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Where can I find information on lift-assist devices such as scissor lifts?

Free Literature on Scissor Lifts and More

Scissor lifts work by raising and positioning heavy materials within ergonomically proper reach of a worker. Looking for guidance on manual material handling issues such as using scissor lifts? There is free information available on the Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA) Web site

Go to the site's bookstore and download a free book titled "Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Material Handling." In it, you will find information about scissor lifts as well as powered stackers, hoists, cranes, carts, dollies and information to help guide your choice of equipment through analyzing work stations and work flow.

There are plenty of other books on material handling listed on the Web site's book store. Some must be purchased.

What are the OSHA requirements for safety training on lifts?

Lifts And OSHA Requirements

Did you know that OSHA sets down specific training requirements for lift operators? Those requirements include the usual lift operation procedures, but there are also requirements to educate workers on falling hazards, falling-object issues, and electrical hazards. Lift operators are also required to be trained on how to respond to such safety problems, and demonstrate that they are able to properly operate a lift. Any worker that cannot operate the equipment in the approved manner must be trained again. Failure to retrain, or €œpencil-whipping€ť a training session for the sake of getting everyone qualified in a hurry not only violates safety laws, it also sets your company up for major liability issues including lawsuits and investigations. Being in compliance with OSHA can mean taking time out of your daily business operation for training, but the results are worth the effort.

What should I know about scissor lift safety?

Scissor Lift Safety Part Two: Related mishaps are mechanical in nature

The major cause of scissor lift mechanical incidents come from unsafe working conditions or lack of awareness.

Keep fingers out of the scissor leg set and keep feet away when lowering. Anyone working with or near the scissor lift table should use the right safety gear. It's important to double check the procedure manual before using on the scissor lift.

It's vital to insure that your scissor lift is not operated on uneven ground, or in high winds. Many mechanical deaths have resulted from improper installation.

Do I really need to explain the use of the tilt table anchor chain? Isn't it obvious?

The Tilt Table Anchor Chain

Do your employees have guidance on weight issues when it comes to single-person lifting? A tilt table allows the worker to access the contents of boxes and crates with more ease and comfort than simply stooping over to retrieve items from a box on the floor. Even with the assistance of a tilt table, there are some objects that simply should not be moved by a single person.

Another factor to consider is the use of anchor chains. A tipping hazard is present for any unanchored object on the tilt table, even if it is within the weight tolerances for the table. Tilt a heavy crate an inch too far and the unanchored box will tumble onto the floor. This tipping hazard can cost you in both worker productivity and damaged goods--make the anchor chain a required-use item.

Can I modify my lift table?

Care and Feeding of a Lift Table

Your lift table has an owner's manual your workers should be familiary with. The manual recommends even loading of the lift table; contact the factory before attempting an uneven load.

You should always get factory advice before adding optional equipment such as a conveyor top-there may be specific equipment or installation instructions you will need to follow to keep your warranty intact. When maintaining the lift table it's important to use only the proscribed oil for the machine--do not use jack oils on your lift table.

Any unauthorized modifications to your lift table may void the warranty--check before you make changes! When in doubt always check the manual.

How can tilt and lift tables cut down injuries in the workplace?

Adjustable Height Means Less Wear And Tear On The Worker

Tilt and lift tables are a big help in terms of good ergonomics. In the 'bad old days' when fixed height tables were installed in work areas to accommodate the 'average worker', everyone else was required to stoop or otherwise adjust themselves to an ill-suited work space.

Among the major workplace injuries are 'repetitive use' injuries, which include needless bending and stooping to accommodate fixed height work spaces. Your purchase of tilt and lift tables will eliminate a large amount of potential for such repetitive use injuries related to the back and spine.

With the advent of tilt and lift tables, your employees can customize their work area to suit their height and other factors. Employee ergonomics is a vital part of worker productivity. The money invested in tilt and lift tables today is the workers compensation claims you won't be paying tomorrow.

Where do I turn for scissor lift certification?

Scissor Lift Certification

Sure, scissor lift operators must know how to operate a scissor lift. But they must also know the hazards of working with one. They must be able to protect their own safety as well as the safety of others while on the job. Because of this, the employer should make sure a scissor lift operator is trained correctly.

There are scissor lift training courses that cover topics such as effective supervision, legislative requirements, workplace hazards having to do with people, equipment and environment, safety tips and requirements for fall equipment and its use.

If you are looking to get scissor lift certification, check out the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Web site at This is a national association representing all specialties within the U.S. construction industry. The association offers training in more than 20 construction crafts through a national ABC network of 80 chapter offices across the country. It offers scissor lift certification and you can find a chapter office near you on the Web site.

According to ABC, a 4-hour class in aerial/scissor lift operator certification will offer both classroom and hands-on instruction, satisfy all state and federal training requirements and provide a 36-page manual to students. Students must bring their own hard hat and fall protection to class. Students must also register and the cost is $130 for non-ABC members and $85 for ABC members.

What are some different types of industrial lift tables?

Types of Industrial Lift Tables

There are many different kinds of industrial lift tables. Here is a sampling of lift and tilt tables, courtesy of

  • Bench top tilters: made of heavy duty steel and attach to most work benches, table tops and mobile lift tables of sufficient surface size and load capacity.
  • Ground tilters: excellent for tilting applications that require a pallet truck for loading and unloading. The ground tilter units are electro-hydraulic. To increase worker safety, pinch points are provided on the ground tilter's four sides.
  • Corner tilters: enable ergonomically correct loading and unloading of bulk crates, boxes and containers. The corner tilters tilt up to 45 degrees and are activated by a foot pedal or a hand-operated control lever. The unit's factory-preset, adjustable regulator starts rotating the container when the weight reaches about 900 pounds. The pressure of the air corner tilters can be adjusted to the weight of each application.
  • Portable tilt table: this movable tilt table decreases the risk of injury by reducing potential harm to workers. It can be moved with a fork truck.
  • Hydraulic upender tilter: upends and tilts work materials to an ergonomically correct position for the worker. The hydraulic upender features limit switches and mechanical stops in both directions.
  • Electric lift tables: enables easier loading of crates, pallets, baskets or boxes by electrically tilting them 45 or 90 degrees.

Why should I use lift and tilt tables?

Why Use Lift and Tilt Tables

Lift and tilt tables help workers get better access to a heavy load by raising their project up and tilting it. There are several reasons why you should use lift and tilt tables at your work place. Lift and tilt tables:

  • Increase productivity
  • Reduce stress injuries (repetitive stretching and bending) by making a project ergonomically sound
  • Make it easier to load pallets, crates, or boxes by tilting them toward the worker at up to 90-degree angles
  • Lower a company's insurance costs and incidences of worker's compensation claims

Should I purchase a used lift?

Should I Purchase A Used Lift?

For some material handling solutions, buying used equipment is a money-saving option, but for any load-bearing device such as a scissor lift or a narrow slab lift, there are some questions to ask before committing to such a purchase:

  • Is there an extended warranty available for this purchase?
  • How old is this lift and has it been completely overhauled prior to the sale?
  • What are the terms?
  • Is there a conditional guarantee?
Many lower-priced lifts may be sold as-is, with no return option. If this is the case, your best bet is to keep looking unless you plan on doing an overhaul yourself. If you don't have the tools or manpower to properly rebuild such a low-end model, the risks you take buying used may outweigh any short-term financial benefits. Load bearing machines need scheduled maintenance to work properly and safely. This is one area where it pays to be picky when it comes to used equipment.

What are narrow slab lifts?

What Are Narrow Slab Lifts?

Narrow slab lifts are designed to hoist workers to higher elevations than a standard ladder. These lifts are generally built with workers in mind, and the maximum load capacity rating decreases roughly by half (sometimes more) when the lift is extended. When shopping for a narrow slab lift, it is important to remember that some optional features can reduce the overall load capacity of the lift. One model, for example, features an optional power extension deck that reduces its overall capacity by 200 pounds. Other options (some four-wheel drive features) add weight but don't reduce the capacity. Check with your manufacturer if you aren't sure how an option may affect the performance of your narrow slab lift.

What is a "rough terrain" lift?

Rough Terrain Lifts

Lifts come with specs that explain load capacity, the ability of the lift to work safely on inclines, and other performance issues. The standard safety advice for lifts includes a recommendation to work on flat surfaces, but some lifts are built to be operated on rough terrain. These are often aerial work platforms and while some models have 1,500 pound load capacities, they are generally designed to facilitate labor at elevated heights. If you need a lift that can be loaded with equipment or materials, be sure your loads are well within the rated capacity. There are also scissor lifts designed for rough ground. Note that the higher the rated weight capacity, the lower maximum height on some models. No matter what kind of rough terrain material handler you need, it's also very important not to drive the vehicle with the lift extended, which is a tipping hazard. This hazard is bad enough on level terrain; when operating on rough terrain, the risk is greatly increased. Remember, if a lift is not designed for rough terrain, you could be in violation of your warranty and safety regulations by operating it on uneven surfaces.

What can I do to improve risk management with my lifts?

How Cranes Can Help Your Operational Risk Management In Lift Operations

Are you looking for ways to improve your safety factor when it comes to your lift operations? The same kinds of risk management strategies for cranes can also be applied to lifts in many situations. Crane crews are advised to avoid working directly under an elevated load; lift crews should do the same. Crane operators are often expected to have a work plan for critical lifts and the same should apply when a crew uses a scissor lift or similar equipment when loaded near or at capacity. There should be specific safety procedures and workflow guidelines for such situations. Crane operators are expected to know the tipping capacity for their machines and never use a visual tip indicator to guide them on acceptable loads. When it comes time to repair or maintain a lift, it is critical to use only the manufacturer-recommended procedure for disassembly, replacement, or repairs of lift parts.

What is a "self-diagnostic" lift?

Self-Diagnostic Lifts

Lifts have many moving parts that require scheduled maintenance, but some models have built-in self-diagnostics that will alert the operator should repairs be needed. Brake systems, batteries, and other parts of the machine can and do go bad before the end of their expected life span. Self-diagnostic machines go a long way toward preventing unnecessary downtime and breaks in productivity due to lifts that have been damaged because a faulty or broken part wasn't properly identified. When it comes time to purchase a new lift, check with your manufacturer to see what lifts might feature such diagnostic tools and on what parts of your lift's “anatomy” they will work with.

What is a custom lift?

Size Or Space Restrictions? Get A Customized Lift

If you want to add scissor lifts to your operation, but find space at a premium, you may wish to consider having custom lifts built to accommodate your size and configuration needs. A company specializing in custom lifts can design them with casters for easy relocation, and can build them to be compatible with conveyor operations. These lifts can also be built-to-order to include turntable tops, tow guards, and other equipment. To get a price quote on these lifts, you should be prepared to submit specifics on the design, load capacities, and optional features you want included in the scissor lifts. When off-the-shelf solutions won't do for your operation, you don't have to do without, you just need to customize.

What lift capacity issues should I be concerned with besides weight and height of extension?

Manufacturer's Guidelines For Lifts

Lifts come with a set of guidelines set down the manufacturer that must be complied with for maximum safety. The load capacity limit is the most obvious of these, but there are others, including “slope tolerance” or rules dictating at what angle a lift must not be used. A sloped work surface offers a heightened tipping hazard, and uneven ground can provide a very dangerous and unpredictable set of conditions for a lift, even if it is meant to handle the weight of workers only. Check the owner manual to insure you are operating a lift well within the guidelines for sloped or uneven ground, and do not deviate from lift guidelines. Knowing all your lift tolerances and capacities will prevent a safety incident if those issues are properly respected.

How can a dock lift help my current operation?

Using Dock Lifts As Alternatives To Ladders And Ramps

Some dock lift vendors display photos of how their equipment can be used to speed up loading, prevent injuries, and create a more worker-friendly environment. If you've been puzzling over how to do any of these, try browsing the website of a few dock vendors and you are sure to find some excellent applications for your existing dock lift equipment. Do your dockworkers struggle to push loads up ramps or sharp inclines when a dock lift can easily hoist the load up to truck level in a matter of seconds? Are your employees handing down large amounts of material from high shelving when a lift could bring the whole load down in one fell swoop? These are the types of advantages to owning a dock lift. If you look at your operation and see these kinds of situations, it may be time to examine how a lift could save you valuable work time.

What is the primary cause of electrical mishap connected to scissor lifts and other elevated work platforms?

Electrical Hazards And Lifts

Television crews who operate live truck with raised transmitter antennae are given careful safety briefings before they can operate such trucks. The same should go for any crew that operates a scissor lift, a boom lift, or any other kind of vehicle designed to allow workers to do their jobs in an elevated position. According to OSHA, nearly all the electrical deaths associated with lifts and booms are due to overhead power lines. Many deaths come as a result of underestimating the clearance needed to avoid coming in contact with a power line. The main issue here is wind. Any elevated lift can be blown into a power line if it is not sufficiently far away, and the reverse is also true--a swaying line is just as hazardous. Be sure your lift crews understand the hazards, and how to avoid them before attempting to do work in a scissor lift, boom lift, or other elevated platform.

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