Safety & Accident

How to Maximize Lift Safety

Safety is a major consideration when lifting and working under an object weighing several tons. Resources are available to shop managers on lift inspection, proper operation, lifting procedures, and mechanic training.

August 2009, Government Fleet - WebXclusive

by Paul Dexler - Also by this author

No matter the vehicle or service/repair job, it's almost a certainty that doing the job requires getting under the vehicle. Years ago, that task meant working in a service facility or garage with a pit in the floor, but today, electro-hydraulic lifts are used to raise vehicles for technician access.

Safety becomes a major consideration when lifting an object weighing several tons and working under it. Steve Perlstein, sales manager for Mohawk Lifts, a major player in the field, offered guidelines to protect workers and equipment when using hydraulic lifts.

"The everyday task of raising a vehicle for service in the shop is something that should never be taken for granted," Perlstein began. "Vehicle lifts are safe and productive shop tools that help get jobs done faster and more efficiently; yet the safety of vehicle lifts and the vehicles being raised and the safety systems of the lifts themselves is something that should never be overlooked."

He noted every type of lift, whether a two-post side-by-side, in-ground, fore-and-aft lift, parallelogram, mobile, or four post ramp-style lift, has specific safety procedures for safely lifting the vehicles. American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and OSHA standards require annual vehicle lift inspections by experienced lift professionals. In addition, ANSI and OSHA require mechanics using vehicle lifts be properly re-certified annually on their knowledge of how to use lifts.

This truck is properly positioned on the lift, with the arms set against the lifting points.

Sources of Knowledge

Perlstein said resources are available to shop managers on issues of lift inspection, proper operation, lifting procedures, and annual training.

"The primary source for this safety information," he said, "is the Automotive Lift Institute or ALI (, an association of vehicle lift manufacturers. The mission of the ALI is promoting safe design, construction, installation, and use of vehicle lifts."

Lifting procedures vary depending upon the lift type being used, noted Perlstein. This article focuses on the most popular type of vehicle lift, the two-post, above-ground style. These lifts range in capacity from as small as 7,000 lbs. to as large as 30,000 lbs. and are used for servicing passenger cars, light-, medium-, and even some heavy-duty trucks.


  1. 1. Jeff Sparks [ May 16, 2012 @ 07:16AM ]

    Where can I get A copy of the book telling where the lifting points are?


    Jeff Sparks

  2. 2. Greg Basich [ May 16, 2012 @ 08:55AM ]

    Hi Jeff, you can get the book from the Automotive Lift Institute’s online store.

    The one you’re looking for is called the ALI/LPGuide. The other guides are more safety focused, but that one is a lift point reference.

  3. 3. elevator and escalator [ February 20, 2013 @ 02:40AM ]

    we can maximise the safety in lift by providing a proper attention.

  4. 4. Andreas Weigel [ September 02, 2013 @ 03:37AM ]

    Everybody talks about point of gravity, exact lifting points, load distribution by heavy works on the car etc.-etc.. , ....but, no technician has a device where he can see if the swivel arm is overloaded or underloaded, no way to see is the point of gravity right or gets changements during maintenance works etc. . We have developed a sensor pad who shows the mechanics exactly these situations. If you are interested pls. contact [email protected] or [email protected] We send you full information to help you to prevent your workers on accidents.

  5. 5. Allan Norris [ July 14, 2014 @ 04:24PM ]

    I am a class a auto mechanic,,I started a new job and the owner had a tow truck driver and another mechanic install new hoists, noone is certified to do so, and no permits were applied for,,we now have hoists that fall and dont lock,,I am in new york,,what does the law say, and where can I get help before someone is killed,, thank you in advance,,

  6. 6. Jackie [ August 14, 2014 @ 09:32AM ]

    You should have a local OSHA number or a 88 number that you can find online or you should be able to get so information at automotive lift institue Non locking lifts should be shut down until they are repaired. I am in Washington and if OSHA were to stop in and do an inspection and find lifts being used with broken locks there would be huge fines, not to mention the fine they would or could receive if someone was injured. I found a article where someone lost a finger and the fine was 19,000.

    As far as installing the lifts you don't need to be certified to do that, you just have to be qualified. Lifts are supposed to be inspected yearly and documented in a file, again by someone qualified to do so. Theres also daily and monthly safety inspections that should be completed, documented and filed. As well all the lift operators need to have some training, also documented and filed. There should be some kind of clause somewhere that says if a lift is unsafe you should be able to refuse to use it and not be reprimanded for this if the lift is "Truly Unsafe". I haven't found any information regarding that yet.

    My husband has a company and performs this type of work. I am working on putting together a safety/training book with sections for documentation. This is the reason I ran across your post, looking for articles to put in a book for managers and owners to read, hopefully this will gain awareness into the importance of inspections, maintenance, safety and documentation.

    I hear a lot "we just can't afford it" when it comes to lift maintenance. If preventative maintenance is completed according to your lift manual, it really is not that expensive, especially compared to down time for a broken lift or fines if someone is injured, not to mention a death. Employee safety should be more important then profit, there would be no profit without the employees.

    I hope helps


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