Scissor Lift Safety Tips

Scissor Lift Safety Tips According to the Bureau of Labor, scissor lifts are responsible for eight workplace fatalities each year.  Compare this with Europe, where there have been five scissor lift-related fatalities within the last four years. While this is a small fraction of the fatality rate in the United States, it’s still unacceptable. The Health and Safety Executive has recently issued a safety alert focusing specifically on the need to regularly maintain, inspect and test safety equipment. The HSE warning applies to operators of scissor lifts, scissor lift engineers, and rental and training companies. However, all it can take to prevent accidents is a few Scissor Lift Safety Tips.  

Top Causes of Scissor Lift Accidents

According to a document from The Center for Construction Research and Training, the top causes of scissor lift accidents are falls, lift tip overs, struck by, and driving with the lift extended over 15 feet. In all of the European incidents described above, the scissor lift overturned. Investigators identified two systems that appeared to be at the root of these. One was the lift/drive interlock, which has a two-fold function. One, it prevents elevation above a specific height without stabilizers; two, the lift/drive interlock prevents driving above this height with the stabilizers in place. The second faulty system identified in the fatal accidents was the oscillating axle. This keeps the lift from being driven over uneven ground while the platform is in the elevated position. While these various causes of scissor lift accidents, with the top being tip-overs, may seem complex and unavoidable, they are completely preventable. Comprehensive scissor lift certification training teaches workers all of the scissor lift safety tips they need to avoid hazards from causing accidents. Training covers how to avoid each of the accidents that are common with scissor lifts, and teaches specifically how to avoid injuries, equipment damage, and fatalities. Scissor lift certification also teaches how to use fall protection methods and tools properly. The combination of in-depth operational knowledge with fall protection training is the most effective accident prevention protocol.

Scissor Lift Safety Tips

With the goal to prevent scissor lift accidents and reduce the number of injuries and fatalities that occur on worksites across the country, OSHA has created a few categories for using scissor lifts safely and keeping workers away from harm. These scissor lift safety categories are Fall Protection, Stabilization, Positioning, Maintaining Scissor Lifts, and Training for Operators. Before operating a scissor lift, employers are responsible for assessing the work area to identify any hazards that can cause accidents. It is essential to ensure there are no loose, damaged, or faulty parts of the equipment, and that the surrounding environment is free of hazards. A quick, five-minute risk assessment at ground level could be all it takes to prevent an injury, or worse.

Fall Protection

Falls are one of the top causes of accidents involving large equipment, and certain aerial lift and scissor lift safety tips need to be considered to prevent workers from falling and getting injured or killed.

  • Scissor lifts must have functioning guardrails to prevent operators from falling out of the platform
  • Scissor lift workers are not required to have body harnesses and lanyards when guardrails are present
  • Workers must stand only on the platform, and not on the guardrails
  • Workers should keep the work area close to the list to avoid having to lean away from the scissor lift


Making sure scissor lifts are stable is the key to preventing tip overs and collapses. As one of the most effective ways for preventing the majority of scissor lift accidents, stabilization of the lift can be achieved using the following scissor lift safety tips:

  • Follow all manufacturer’s instructions for moving on a scissor lift safely
  • Make sure the scissor lift is not close to traffic or other equipment that can come into contact with the lift
  • Position the scissor lift on solid, stable ground away from drop-offs, holes, bumps, slopes, and debris
  • Only use scissor lifts in good weather conditions and not high winds
  • Never exceed weight or height limits


Proper positioning of a scissor lift will help prevent crushing and electrocution accidents. Workers both on and near a scissor lift are at risk for crushing hazards, which can happen when a moving scissor lift is near a fixed object, a scissor lift is close to moving vehicles, a scissor lift passes underneath a fixed object. Electrocutions can happen to workers on the platform who are near power lines, even if neither the lift nor the worker comes into contact with the live line. Scissor lift workers can prevent electrocutions and crushed-by accidents with the following scissor lift safety tips:

  • Position the scissor lift at least ten feet away from power lines to avoid electrocution
  • Use traffic control measures to separate the scissor lift from other workers or vehicles
  • Use ground guides around the scissor lift in the work zone
  • Ensure your overhead is clear of electrical wires and other fixed objects

Maintaining Scissor Lifts

Scissor lifts are only kept safe for use through regular maintenance. Workers should review the manufacturer’s instructions to learn how to:

  • Perform pre-inspection checks and environment inspections
  • Perform maintenance on the equipment
  • Ensure safety systems are not bypassed
  • Ensure guardrails are in good condition

Training for Operators

All employers of scissor lift operators are required to provide training to teach workers how to operate scissor lifts safely and recognize and avoid hazards. Training should consist of the following scissor lift safety tips and instructions at the minimum:

  • How to understand the manufacturer’s instructions for operating a scissor lift while in the raised position and while traveling
  • How to handle materials on the scissor lift, and be aware of the weight limitations
  • What worksite hazards to look for and how to avoid them
  • How to report any defects that require repairs

Scissor lift training also teaches workers how to perform a thorough assessment of the surrounding environment to check for any red flags. Scissor lift safety tips come into play not only when inspecting the equipment, but also the work area because you truly can never be too careful. Even if the work zone has already been deemed as safe, it is each worker’s responsibility to perform their own inspections to confirm their safety.

Scissor Lift Certification Can Prevent Accidents

The best way to prevent accidents is to ensure workers are properly trained with scissor lift certification and understand all scissor lift safety tips and practices. This specialized education is the most effective way to prevent accidents that lead to injuries, fatalities, and costly equipment damage because it teaches all of the essential scissor lift safety tips, including how to operate a scissor lift, how to recognize and avoid hazards, and how to inspect the equipment and surrounding environment. Employers can do their part to reduce accidents by providing the comprehensive, OSHA-compliant scissor lift training workers need, and operators can create a safe working environment by following all protocols taught in training. In addition to preventing worksite accidents, scissor lift training that includes scissor lift safety tips can also prevent costly equipment damage, and can improve a company’s bottom line. Scissor lift training can boost the productivity of a workplace, by properly preparing workers to handle their duties and avoid expensive mistakes and an inefficient working pace. Scissor lift safety is everybody’s responsibility. OSHA regulations state that aerial and scissor lift operators must complete their initial scissor lift certification training before being allowed to operate, and must be recertified every three years. At, we offer scissor lift safety training for new operators. The program costs only $75 and takes only about one hour to complete from any device with the internet. Why leave it that long? Refresher training at CertifyMeOnline is quick, easy and affordable as well. Learn all of the vital scissor lift safety tips today to protect your life on the job!

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