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
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 (www.autolift.org), 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.