Andrew Johnson|

Scissor Lift Safety Considerations

When your work requires reaching and working at various heights or transporting equipment and products to elevated storage areas, a scissor lift can be a powerful tool. Scissor lifts are mobile, so they can move from place to place, and they have a platform that can carry individuals, tools, and materials. This allows a lot of freedom and safety compared to permanent structures or ladders, which may be less stable or limited in their extension.

The applications for scissor lifts are seemingly endless. They might be used in storage facilities, on maintenance projects, and for construction work. While scissor lifts are versatile pieces of equipment, like any heavy machinery, they can be dangerous if used improperly. To combat this, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set forth guidance on utilizing this machinery safely. It’s important to review the document in full, but we’ve also outlined some key points here.


Stabilization was one of three main causes of preventable injuries found by OSHA, alongside positioning and fall protection. If the scissor lift is on unstable ground, it may fall over or tip at an angle that endangers workers on the lift or working on the ground nearby. Avoid using the lift near holes, slopes, drop-offs, and unstable ground. The lift itself will have ratings that operators should also follow, including maximum weight restrictions to avoid making the machine top-heavy. The manufacturer will also recommend safety practices for moving the lift, such as ensuring it is not elevated or carrying individuals when moving.

External factors, such as weather, may impact the scissor lift as well. Scissor lifts should not be used in high wind conditions, which can make the equipment unstable. Additionally, other machines on the site can impact the lift and lead to unsafe conditions. To combat this, implement and follow traffic rules and standards that help prevent collisions or shaky ground. A stable lift is a safer lift.


Positioning a scissor lift improperly can make the machinery hazardous to workers moving around the lift, as well as the operator and individuals on the platform. Situational awareness is crucial for all workers on and around the lift, whether they’re on foot or in another vehicle. Workers should be particularly careful in situations that increase the risk of impact with the lift, such as traffic around the equipment or other structures on the site.

Scissor lifts are often used around power lines or electrical machinery, which presents its own risks. OSHA recommends keeping the vehicle away from power sources, such as transformers, by at least 10 feet. Workers must be properly trained and certified to work safely around electrical hazards for any jobs that must be done in these conditions. These precautions help prevent electrical arcing, burns, and electrocution.

Fall Protection

Even if a scissor lift is perfectly positioned, falls are always a concern due to the lifting capabilities. To combat this, all equipment must have guardrails to keep a worker from falling off. A harness can provide an additional safety measure. Other important best practices include:

  • Avoiding work that requires overreaching
  • Not standing on the rails
  • Ensuring all rails are set up properly before operating the scissor lift

Proper Training

None of this information is useful without a properly trained workforce. This information, and other knowledge relevant to safely operating a scissor lift must be transferred to workers. OSHA’s minimums for training include:

  • Manufacturer’s instruction for operating the lift at various phases of use
  • Safe handling of materials on the lift
  • Reporting issues with the equipment

Even workers who will be around the lift but not handling it directly must also be aware of the hazards and proper mitigation methods. 

Preventative Maintenance

Scissor lifts are just like any other piece of equipment in that the parts will eventually fail. Without proper maintenance, they may fail earlier than necessary, or while being operated, becoming safety hazards. Always follow manufacturer recommendations for maintenance, like verifying that the brakes, guide rails, and controls are in working order before use. Follow any recommended preventative maintenance steps as well, such as replacing components when they reach their expected lifespan. 

When used properly, scissor lifts can be an invaluable asset. Purchasing from trustworthy suppliers ensures you’ll get one that will last a long time. Aerial Titans is your source for reliable heavy-duty equipment. As an industry leader, they offer an extensive inventory and expert staff to connect you with the right machines for any job. Contact our sales office for more information about our selection and financing options.

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