As football and band seasons start to ramp up, don’t forget about the dangers of using scissor lifts for filming and/or viewing the activities on the field. During the Fall 2010 college football season, a student, who was also an employee of the University of Notre Dame, was killed while filming the school’s football team practice from a scissor lift (a portable, hydraulic-powered lift with a platform that can be raised into the air directly above the base). Reportedly, the worker, who had not been trained to properly operate the scissor lift, raised it over 39 feet into the air to film the practice. The wind gusts that day were more than 50 miles per hour. The high winds blew the lift over, killing the worker.
Hazard With Scissor Lifts for Filming
Organizations that have employees, including student workers, who use scissor lifts to film events and functions must address the hazards associated with this equipment. These hazards can include:
- The lift falling over or a worker slipping off the platform if the lift is:
- used during bad weather or high winds
- positioned on soft or uneven ground, or on weak utility covers (e.g., underground sprinkler valve boxes)
- overloaded with heavy objects
- used with guardrails removed
- driven over uneven, unstable ground, or surface in poor condition, with the lift in an elevated position, or
- used with brakes that are not properly set
- A worker being electrocuted if the lift makes contact with electrical lines.
How to Reduce Hazards for Scissor Lifts for Filming
- Establish and follow safe work practices that include, but are not limited to:
- Inspecting controls and components before use
- Selecting work locations with firm and level surfaces away from hazards that can cause the lift to be unstable (e.g., drop-offs or holes, slopes, bumps or ground obstructions, or debris)
- Selecting work locations that are clear of electrical power sources (e.g., power lines, transformers) – by at least 10 feet – and other overhead hazards (e.g., other utilities, branches, overhangs, etc.)
- Operating lifts only during weather conditions that are safe for use (e.g., not in high winds, rain, snow, sleet, etc.)
- Moving the lift to/from a work location safely, with the lift lowered, unless following safe practices allowed by the manufacturer
- Setting the breaks and stabilizing the lift before raising it
- Ensuring that the lift is not overloaded
- Working safely from the lift (e.g., do not remove guardrails or stand on them for extra height)
- Reporting problems and malfunctions
- Train workers on, and make sure workers follow, established safe work practices and manufacturers’ recommendations for operating scissor lifts safely
- Allow only trained workers to use scissor lifts, and make sure those workers show they can use a scissor lift properly
- Make sure that the scissor lift has a guardrail system that protects workers from falling, and
- Test, inspect, and maintain scissor lifts according to the manufacturer’s recommendations
Many scissor lifts are covered under OSHA’s scaffolding standard. For technical assistance, please refer to OSHA’s eTool and Other Resources on Scaffolding.
The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a letter and outreach materials on Safe Work Practices for Lifts.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has standards for manufacturing, owning, and operating scissor lifts. They can be found in ANSI A92.3-2006 (Manually Propelled Elevating Aerial Platforms) and A92.6-2006 (Self-Propelled Elevating Work Platforms).
The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) has a training program for aerial and scissor lifts. For a fee, successful trainees receive a one-day, hands-on aerial lift training and are awarded the PAL Card (Powered Access License) as proof of training. More information is available at IPAF’s website.