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Does OSHA Require Certification for Operating Scissor Lifts?

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What is a Scissor Lift

A scissor lift is a mobile machine that uses cross section beams to lift a work platform for employees to work from. It is a versatile piece of equipment that has different models intended for indoor use exclusively and outdoor use. Scissor lifts have platform controls and ground controls so that they can be operated independently and cooperatively.

Scissor lifts are classified as a Mobile Elevated Work Platform (MEWP) or aerial lift according to the standards of the American National Safety Institute. However, according to OSHA’s standards, scissor lifts are classified as scaffolding equipment and follow those standards and not aerial lift standards.

OSHA Scaffolding Standards

Scissor lifts are categorized as scaffolds because of many reasons, which are detailed in the standards and regulations outlined by OSHA. Some of the basic principles for handling scaffolding fit with scissor lifts and not with aerial lifts. For example, climbing the cross beams of scaffolding is not an approved method of mounting scaffolding. When extended, scissor lifts use cross beams to raise a work platform, but climbing the beams is likewise not an approved method of mounting the equipment.

Like scaffolding, scissor lifts have handrails, outriggers, and loading capacities. They do require specific training to be operated and used correctly.

Safety is the Bottom Line

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Regardless of how they are classified, safety is the number one priority when reviewing the standards for operating one. There are hazards present when using scissor lifts that are also hazards for both scaffolding and aerial lifts. These hazards include:

  • Falls
  • Tip-overs
  • Electrocution
  • Caught-in/between

Because of these hazards there are requirements for operating and working with scissor lifts that an employee needs to fulfill. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that their employees have the proper training before operating a scissor lift.

Scissor Lift Requirements

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OSHA does require you to receive proper safety training before operating a scissor lift. This training covers all of the specifics for safely using a scissor lift. All these requirements and more are covered in detail with scissor lift safety training. Some of these requirements include:

  • Perform yearly and daily inspections of the scissor lift to ensure it is operational and free of wear or damage.
  • Employees that operate a scissor lift need to wear the right personal protective equipment (PPE), including a hard hat and a safety harness.
  • Employees need to connect fall protection to an approved anchor point on the bucket or work platform.
  • Employees are not allowed to use a ladder to reach higher on the work platform or use the guardrails as a ladder to step up to higher position on the scissor lift.
  • Employees cannot lean over the guardrails; this can compromise the stability of the scissor lift.
  • Employees cannot use the ground controls unless the employee in the bucket gives them permission to do so or in the case of an emergency.

The Hour of Inspection

Conducting daily inspections is essential to preventing accidents before they happen. Some of the biggest scissor lift disasters happen because an employee fails to perform a pre-shift inspection. Consider the following case:

"An employee had been employed by an electrical contractor to install overhead lighting fixtures and perform other electrical work in a new building. The employee was operating a scissor lift to pull and staple wiring on the ceiling to be later attached to an overhead lighting fixture. While in the scissor lift, the employee leaned over past the railing to reach a junction box when the platform of the scissor lift suddenly elevated and pinned the employee between its top rail and the ceiling. Another worker saw that the employee was in trouble and came to his aid. He was hospitalized immediately and suffered major injuries to his ribs and lungs."

Had the employee done a proper pre-shift inspection, including a key-on check of the scissor lift controls, he likely would have noticed they were faulty. When performing inspections, check the beams, wheels, chassis, platform, and controls for any wear. The hour of inspection could be the difference between life and death.

Getting the Right Training

If you are looking for training for scissor lifts, there are many options out there provided by third party retailers. What matters most though is that you get the most accurate and inclusive information for OSHA, ANSI, and other standards regarding scissor lifts.

Here at Hard Hat Training, we do exactly that and can provide you with the best training to prepare you for operating a scissor lift.

Training Options

Here at Hard Hat Training, we offer training for scissor lifts. Our training is compliant with OSHA and ANSI standards to give you the most thorough experience in preparation for operating scissor lifts.

In addition to our scissor lift training, we provide additional information in our Aerial Lift Online Training (covers boom lift and scissor lift safety). Although OSHA does not classify scissor lifts as aerial lifts (check out our article Are Scissor Lift Considered Aerial Lifts for more ingo on that), our aerial lift training includes them because of their similar hazards and safety precautions.

Course Options

Our training for scissor lifts and for MEWPs come in different course options. We have online training, training kits, and onsite trainers. We also provide the option for an additional “Train-The-Trainer” module to prepare and certify employers on how to teach the training kit material.

Each of our options contain accurate and up to date information on scissor lifts and current standards and regulations. Each course option provides training in different forms that can fit your needs and the needs of your company.

Additional Healthy Scissor Lift Practices

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Safety training will help you prepare for operating scissor lifts, but there is always additional information and safety practices that can help. The requirements talk about certain hazards generally, but here are some ways to specifically avoid them:

  • Fall Protection: Make sure the guardrail system is in place and undamaged before working on a scissor lift. Also be aware that a simple chain for the entry gate of the bucket is not acceptable and needs to be replaced before the scissor lift can be used.
  • Stabilization: Be familiar with the operator’s manual. Keeping the scissor lift stable also means you need to be aware of unsafe weather conditions that might cause it to tip-over and keep it away from traffic or other equipment that might come into contact with it.
  • Positioning: Be watchful of when the scissor lift is near a fixed object and another moving vehicle. These can present caught-in/between hazards and positioning the scissor lift away from these will prevent these hazards. Also position the scissor lift at least ten feet away from power lines to avoid electrocution.
  • Collapse: Scissor lifts don’t usually collapse, but it is a hazard regardless. You can easily avoid this rare but serious hazard by ensuring that the weight limit is not surpassed on the platform. Also avoid using other equipment to lift the scissor lift and ensure all safety systems are maintained.

Take every necessary precaution to operate a scissor lift safely, no matter how it is classified. At the end of the day what matters most is that you operate the equipment safely and that you and your coworkers make it home unharmed.

"Stop training the hard way. Do it the Hard Hat Training way instead!"
— Arthur Lee, CEO