Everything you need to know about Scissor lift training

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What is a scissor lift?

A scissor lift is a popular model of lift which is used for interior work like ceiling construction, sign hanging, and other maintenance projects. Scissor lifts have a lower platform height than a boom lift and often only reach as high as 20 – 50 feet.

Scissor lifts have large platforms to accommodate both people and materials, which makes scissor lifts popular for manufacturing and industrial projects. They provide a safe and reliable environment for workers to complete projects with heights involved.

Scissor lifts are capable of vertical movement with their crisscrossing braces. This X-pattern which compresses and extends is also known as a pantograph.

The most valuable function of a scissor lift is their ability to extend up and then collapse small enough to be easily stored.

Scissor lifts are available and powered by either an electric or diesel engine. Electric engines are better for indoor use because they do not require the same level of ventilation as a gas engine. Indoor jobs are usually less intense which means the battery will also last longer. Whatever the project or height, a scissor lift is a great tool to keep workers working at great heights safely.

Common uses for the scissor lift

Scissor lifts are better suited for certain jobs over boom lifts or any other type of aerial platform. A lightweight and easy-to-move equipment, Scissor lifts are ideal for indoor projects, as they are a lightweight and easy to move piece of equipment.

Scissor lifts are capable of working outdoors on uneven or sloped terrain. A rough terrain scissor lift was purposely made to work on rough or uneven ground to allow for safely raising workers and materials in a way that a ladder never could. 

Popular uses for the scissor lift

  • Indoor maintenance with higher ceilings
  • Warehouses where accessing tall shelves needs to be done with a safely
  • Sign maintenance where a larger platform is needed for safe work
  • Working on sloped land or uneven terrain
  • Working in outdoor spaces where an up-down lifting motion is needed

Choosing the right scissor lift

The requirements of a project will determine what kind and height of scissor lift will work best. Electric motors are better suited for indoor projects while diesel engine scissor lifts will be able to give the machine the power needed to manoeuvre around the site.

Scissor lifts are also available as “rough terrain” lifts and are made to operate on slopes and uneven soil. Knowing what the nature of the job site is or will be at the time the lift will be used will assist in the selection process of “which scissor lift is best”.

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Potential hazards of scissor lifts

When working at height, there are always risks involved. It is always important to put safety first and follow procedures to ensure the safe operation of the equipment. Falling from lifts, being caught between the lift and other materials and raising the platform too high, and tipping the lift are all potential hazards associated with the use of scissor lifts.

Tipping a scissor lift

It is important to never over-extend a scissor lift or to go over the weight restrictions. Scissor lifts are made to work on uneven and rough terrain but they should be done so with weight and height adaptations in mind. Going over these recommendations or working in unsafe conditions puts the lift at risk of tipping or falling over. If at any point it does not feel safe to operate a lift, stop and wait until it is safe to do so. Tipping can also be a hazard in extreme winds and weather when working outside. Check the weather forecast before planning for outdoor scissor lift work.

Crushing hazards

Always survey the work area before raising a platform. If a scissor lift is raised too high when near a ceiling rafter, light fixture, duct system, or any other kind of obstacle, the operator is at risk of being crushed or stuck. Always keep arms and legs within the platform and maintain situational awareness of the jobsite surroundings at all times.

Falling from a scissor lift

For any situation when working on a lift or in heights, specific safety protocols should be followed. Always wear a safety harness as well as other PPE. Failing to do so could result in a fall from the scissor lift platform.

Staying safe on a scissor lift

Scissor lifts are very safe and secure. However, any equipment can be made unsafe if not used properly. In order to keep scissor lifts safe, be sure to always follow manufacturing instructions and maximum weight guidelines. Never operate a scissor lift unless you received proper training first and do not use a scissor lift if the job site is not safe.

  • Always know where the lift’s emergency stop is and how to use it
  • Never operate a lift alone
  • Always wear a safety harness and other appropriate PPE
  • Secure all of your tools while working on a raised platform
  • Always survey the job site before using a scissor lift, including the status of the terrain on which the base will be sitting and up in the sky where the operator will be working. Look for branches, hanging or exposed wires, rafters, etc.
  • Request proper training and never operate a scissor lift if you do not know how to do so
  • Never attempt to move an extended scissor lift or while another person is on the lift


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