Top 10 Safety Recommendations for Operating Scissor Lifts

Date: May 21, 2024

Doug Henrich, Risk Control Consultant

Cultivating a Culture of Safety 

Scissor lifts are valuable tools, enabling workers to reach heights safely and efficiently. However, their use also presents significant hazards if proper safety protocols are not followed. Use our top ten safety recommendations for operating scissor lifts safely.

Pre-Operational Checks

Before using scissor lifts, inspect for:

  • Visible damage
  • Ensure all safety devices are in place and functional
  • Check fluid levels
  • Verify controls are operating correctly.

When any of these issues are present, do not operate the scissor lift.

Training and Certification

Only individuals who have received proper training and authorization are permitted to operate scissor lifts. This training should follow the specific instructions provided by the equipment manufacturer, covering aspects such as safe operation, how to maneuver, the correct method for raising and lowering the platform, and how to react in emergencies. Certification programs should provide comprehensive knowledge of safety procedures and regulatory requirements.

Weight Limits

It is crucial that the weight limits for the equipment are not surpassed. Exceeding the capacity of the platform can result in instability and the risk of collapse. Always refer to the manufacturer's guidelines and ensure that the combined weight of workers, tools, and materials does not exceed the specified limit.

Level Ground

Before elevating the platform, check to make sure the surface is level and strong enough to bear the weight of both the lift and its users. If necessary, use leveling jacks or outriggers to stabilize the lift.

Safe Operating Procedures

Ensure you keep a safe distance from any overhead hazards, avoid abrupt movements or sudden stops, and refrain from extending the platform beyond its designated maximum height or reach. Climbing on railings is prohibited. Always keep your work within a comfortable reach to prevent the need for leaning and to minimize the risk of objects falling.


To coordinate movements and prevent collisions and incidents with ground personnel and other operators, use hand signals or two-way radios. When working, close off the work zones.

Weather Conditions

High winds, rain, or snow can affect the safe operation of scissor lifts. Avoid using the lift during adverse weather conditions that could compromise stability or visibility.

Emergency Preparedness

Familiarize yourself with the emergency procedures and rescue protocols for situations such as equipment malfunction, entrapment, or any other crisis. It is essential that every worker is trained on manually lowering the platform and knows the proper method to call for assistance when necessary.

Regular Maintenance

Conduct regular inspections on scissor lifts, lubricate moving parts, and swiftly address any defects or malfunctions.

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment can include belts, body harnesses, and lanyards. Other PPE frequently used are goggles, eyeglasses, protective boots, and hard hats.

For more information on scissor lifts, refer to OSHA's guidelines. Click the button below to find a BITCO agent near you.

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For information purposes only. BITCO's blog content does not address all potential circumstances and is not a substitute for business, safety, or legal consultation.

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