According to a Consumer Product Safety Commission report, more than 15,000 workers were treated in hospitals for automotive lift, jack or jack stand injuries between 2007 and 2013. Recently, this 22-year-old mechanic in Hartford, Connecticut was killed when a vehicle fell from a lift.
Lifts are dangerous: parts can break; equipment can falter; gravity can win. Knowing and adhering to vehicle lift safety best practices can keep workers safe. On the other hand, leaving proper procedures up in the air can lead to peril.
Annual Vehicle Lift Safety Inspections
The ANSI/ALI (Automotive Lift Institute) has developed the safety standards that govern the use, inspection and maintenance of automotive lifts in North America. According to the American National Safety Lift Safety Standard ANSI/ALI ALOIM:2020, lifts must be inspected at least annually by a “qualified lift inspector.”
A proper vehicle lift safety inspection includes examining its structural, mechanical, hydraulic, air and electrical systems and components. This may consist of up to 120 points of inspection. The inspection will also include reviewing lift labels, safety materials and documentation, vehicle lifting information, and training logs.
We should add that OSHA does not have its own specific inspection standards for automotive lifts. Instead, they require all facilities to adhere to ANSI/ALI inspection standards.
Lift Usage Best Practices
To ensure and encourage vehicle lift safety, the following best practices should be taught to each of your team members.
Always examine the lift before use. A worker should perform a quick walk around, ensuring all parts are in working order: there are no frayed cables, no loose bolts, lifting points aren’t rusted or covered in dirt and there are no fluid or air leaks. A hydraulic fluid leak or pneumatic leak can lead to lift failure while the car is elevated. Pre-lift inspections can save lives, and they only take a few minutes.
Work Safety Training
OSHA requires that facilities “shall ensure that operators of automotive lifts are instructed in the safe use and operation of the lift using the manufacturer-provided instructions and warning labels.” Additionally, the American National Safety Institute requires all the training to be thoroughly documented.
Additional Safety Requirements
The list of safety requirements and measures is long and detailed, but adhering to each is vital. That list includes the following:
- Only trained or authorized people should operate a lift
- Never tamper with or override operating controls
- Never raise or lower an occupied vehicle
- Ensure the vehicle does not exceed the lift’s load capacity (a car’s weight is either displayed inside the door jamb or can be found in the vehicle’s owner manual)
- Ensure safety decals displaying critical safety precautions are affixed to the lift
- Always use a lift’s safety locks
- If using lift adapters, make sure each is secure and adjusted properly
- Don’t use homemade accessories like wooden blocks (these can fail)
- When working under a vehicle, wear safety glasses and use supplementary jack stands for stabilizing the load
- Carefully follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when adding or removing heavy components that may cause a shift in the vehicle’s center of gravity
- Display an Automotive Lift Safety Tips poster nearby
- When lowering the vehicle, make sure the area is clear
- If the vehicle begins to fall, never try to save it. Run in the opposite direction and clear the area immediately!
GMG EnviroSafe and Vehicle Lift Safety
As they say, what goes up, must come down. But, hopefully, when lifting heavy vehicles or crates, they’ll come down nice and easy. Otherwise, accidents can have horrible consequences. At GMG EnviroSafe, your workers’ safety is our top priority. Our compliance experts are always available to lend the advice or assistance you need, and we offer numerous training and safety courses, including a lift safety training module. We are also happy to send you our annual lift inspection checklist. Contact us, and make sure you raise the bar on vehicle lift safety.
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