Following a detailed review of bus and truck maintenance facilities across North America, vehicle lift manufacturer Stertil-Koni has identified seven key steps to improving safety for busy technicians working on the shop floor.
The challenges facing fleet operators of all types are significant and continue to grow. These tips are designed to boost safety and improve shop productivity.
- Certification: Fleet managers should make sure that their lifts carry the “Gold Label” from the Automotive Lift Institute (ALI). The ALI Lift Certification Program has made it easy for lift buyers to choose lifts that have been third-party tested and proven to meet the safety and performance requirements outlined in the safety standard ANSI/ALI ALCTV (current edition). Lift testing includes verification of the structural integrity of all of a particular lift model’s systems and components, proper function of its controls and load-holding devices, proper lowering speeds, and overload protection.
- Lift Selection: Weight and Height Matters: Fleet managers should know in advance the weight of the heaviest vehicle they intend to lift and make absolutely certain that the lift selected is certified to meet or exceed that capacity. In terms of height, always measure the height clearance of the facility prior to selecting a lifting system to ensure ample room to raise a vehicle for servicing. Further, note the height of the tallest vehicle that will be lifted and make certain there is sufficient room to raise the vehicle to a proper height that will permit a technician to work comfortably underneath the vehicle.
- Vigilance During Set-Up: When preparing to operate the lift, do a full sweep of the area. Check the perimeter of the lift to confirm that nothing is obstructing its path and there are no hazards. Then, lift the vehicle no more than 12 inches off the ground, pause, and do another sweep of the area to further check that there are no impediments. Also, make sure that the vehicle being lifted is level.
- Keep It Stable: Ensure that mobile column lifts are placed on a firm foundation and level ground. When lifting outdoors, be aware of wind loads. Also, make certain that all personnel are clear of the vehicle and that the wheels on the vehicle being raised are properly engaged with the forks on the mobile column lifts. For in-ground lifts, operators should check that the contact points are properly positioned. Further, select a lift with an “electronic synchronization” system. In this way, as the lift goes into motion and continues through the full-range up to its maximum height, vehicles will lift smoothly, even those with unequal weight distribution, such as fire trucks, airport tugs, and pumpers.
- Technician Protection: At all times, lift vehicles to the proper height, allowing technicians to move about and work comfortably underneath the vehicle. Ensure the locking system is in place.
- Maintain a Strict Maintenance Schedule: Make certain that all lifts are subject to a regular program of scheduled maintenance — in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended schedule — and receive annual lift inspections by a certified lift inspector.
- Create a Culture of Safety: Beyond choosing the right lifting system, promoting a positive culture of safety at the shop is essential. Service bulletins, safety messages, and continuously updating technicians’ skills are vital to a smooth-running maintenance facility. Accessories specifically designed to ensure technician safety and proper ergonomics are available. These include high-lift wheel dollies to allow for strain-free wheel removal and proper alignment of dual-tire assemblies and brake drums, locked control boxes to ensure only authorized personnel operate the lifts, and wireless mobile column lifts to remove the risk of tripping.