Without taking proper precautions and safety measures, operating scissor lifts can be very dangerous. Early in the morning on November 8, 2021, officials were called to an industrial accident in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Officials arrived at the scene and found a man 30 feet above ground in a scissor lift. The man had previously been removing the overhead piping from the building when he became wedged between two pipes. First responders pronounced him dead. Accidents like this happen all too often. Another example is found on Hard Hat Training News where two workers in Adelaide died on the same construction site, both because of similar scissor lift accidents. Scissor lift accidents can be prevented when proper safety measures are taken.
There are a handful of things that could have been done to prevent an accident like the one in Oklahoma. First, no one was there when this man was operating a scissor lift. OSHA specified in their Workers’ Rights pamphlet, that employers have the responsibility to provide a safe and healthy environment for their employees. In this situation, it could mean ensuring that a spotter is around when operating a scissor lift where many hazards are present. Some companies specify this in their own safety plans. SLAC operating requirements states “a spotter, who must be a qualified operator, is required when the MEWP is operating in an area with minimal clearance or where hazards are present.” While working alone may be easier, workers are safer when someone is there to assist.
Positioning a scissor lift has specific reference in many OSHA hazard warnings. Employees should watch closely when a scissor lift is near a fixed object and move slowly. Specifically watch for door frames or beams above, or other working vehicles below. When operating a scissor lift, always consider other points of view and look down as well as up. The man in this accident should have had a spotter and been watching his surroundings more closely in order to prevent a tragic accident like the one that occurred.
The Hard Hat Training website offers a scissor lift course encompassing these standards and more. When operating a scissor lift, always be sure you are following safe protocol and being aware of your surroundings. Being safe at the beginning, middle, and end of a job is critical to sustain life.