Five Commonly Overlooked but Crucial Lift Safety Tips

Oct. 12, 2014
Complying with the ANSI, OSHA and PEOSH requirements ensure vehicle lifts are kept at the highest possible safety level.

The vehicle lifts that support the transit buses and shuttle buses in your garage can represent one of the most productive tools in your shop, or potentially one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment if not used and maintained properly.

If there were an incident in your garage involving a vehicle lift, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would ask you three questions:

  1. What did you know?
  2. When did you know it?
  3. What did you do about it?

Complying with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), OSHA and Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health (PEOSH) requirements ensure vehicle lifts are kept at the highest possible safety level.

Following these safety tips ensure your technicians are kept safe and that noncompliance fines are avoided.

1. Buy Certified Lifts & Options

There’s one and only one nationally recognized safety standard for vehicle lifts: ANSI-ALI/ALCTV, administered by the Automotive Lift Institute (

The Automotive Lift Institute, working though ETL, involves rigorous third-party testing verifying lift manufacturers comply with current government safety requirements for lifts, which mandate that lifts be third-party tested. Most every state has building code rules that shops have to follow. To verify equipment status, look for the gold ALI/ETL certification tag next to the lift’s controls.

Beware that using an uncertified option voids the lift’s certification. ALI requires all accessories, such as rolling jacks, truck adaptors, lighting for runway lifts, and special lifting pads, to be ALI/ETL certified.

ALI/ETL standards (and ANSI standards and building code standards) require all accessories, such as drive-thru runways, rolling jacks, truck adaptors, lighting for runway lifts, and special lifting pads, to be certified. Although certification is good for the life of the lift, older models may not meet the most current standards, which typically change every five years. Some lifts and options that were certified in 2000 wouldn’t pass the 2011 standard.

2. No Locks = Liability

You’ve heard the phrase, “Never use a jack without a jack stand.” The same is true for vehicle lifts. Always raise the vehicle and then lower it onto the lift’s mechanical locks as suggested by the manufacturer and required by ANSI.

When you’re walking through the shop, make sure techs are using the proper procedure. An easy way to visually verify the locks are being used is to include a weight gauge on your lift. The weight gauge must be made by the same manufacturer so it will be properly calibrated to the lift cylinder size.

When you walk by a lift and the weight gauge reads anything but “0,” the tech in that bay hasn’t lowered the lift onto the mechanical locks.

3. It’s Easy to Overload

Manufacturers of the most common side-by­ side lifts mandate that none of the four swing arms be overloaded.

Unfortunately, overloading of lifts happens more than realized. For example, some may think that a 12,000 pound-rated lift that’s loaded with an 11,500-pound paratransit vehicle isn’t near capacity. They are wrong.

This paratransit vehicle has a front axle weight of 4,500 pounds and back axle weight of 7,000 pounds. The per-arm capacity of a 12,000 pound-rated lift is 3,000 pounds. If the heavier rear end of a vehicle weighs 7,000 pounds, each swing arm needs a minimum arm capacity of 3,500 pounds for safe lifting.

Multiply this example by four swing arms and the minimum capacity of your lift for this ve­hicle should be 14,000 pounds.

4. Inspect Equipment Annually

ANSI/Automotive Lift Institute ALCTV Standard for Automotive Lifts — “Safety Requirements for Construction, Testing, and Validation” requires technicians to perform a daily operational safety check. ANSI also requires an annual in­spection by a qualified individual. Failing to do so exposes your shop to liabilities that could be associated with an injury if an accident were to happen. Contact your manufacturer or garage equipment sales company to schedule an inspection.

5. Training and Testing

Like any product, lifts vary in style, type, capability, longevity and warranty. ANSI requires technicians to be trained annually in proper lift use. This may seem unnecessary, yet think of ev­eryone who drives a forklift in your fa­cility who is required to pass an annual safety test. The test re­sults are added to each employees file in case of a forklift incident.

The same applies to vehicle lifts. Contact the Automotive Lift Institute, your lift supplier, or a local lift inspec­tion company for a copy of the 20-minute “Lifting it Right” video hosted by legendary NASCAR driver Richard “The King” Pet­ty and his son, Kyle. Require your techni­cians to watch the video and pass a writ­ten test on lift operation and safety.

Steve Perlstein is the sales & marketing manager at Mohawk Lifts.

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Mohawk Lifts

May 11, 2012