Automotive Lift Safety
Safety instructions for almost any type of equipment – whether garage equipment, or any other type of mechanical device – are based on simple common sense. But no harm is done in mentioning them and laying down firm rules-of-thumb to follow, to help prevent unnecessary accidents.
An automotive lift can be operated in a hazardous way, possibly causing serious injury or even death if not operated safely. Cars have been known to fall off lifts altogether, due to improper balancing or positioning.
The following guidelines should be known and followed when maintaining or operating any type of automotive lift:
- An automotive lift operator needs to be fully familiar with any safety instructions the manufacturer has supplied with the lift. In addition, he should be fully familiar with the operating instructions of the lift and should be checked out by a supervisor to ensure full safety. Even a proven veteran should familiarize himself with any and all literature supplied by the manufacturer, if he is operating a new model for the first time. Though all lifts are similar, some may have unique features which require additional attention or caution.
- It is important that any necessary safety gear is worn by the operator. Even though this is not an enforceable law or requirement (unless required by your employers), it is definitely recommended. When you operate a vehicle lift, you’re dealing with heavy-duty mechanics, and a lot of weight.
- Before using an auto lift, inspect it thoroughly (including any special features) and watch for obvious signs of damage - or wear-and-tear that could potentially be hazardous. If such is found, don’t use the lift. Get it properly serviced by an authorized technician and fully repaired before you use it.
- Ensure a vehicle does not exceed the lift capacity, before you attempt to lift it.
- Never rush while using an automotive lift. You are more likely to make a mistake when you are in a rush; it can be easy to forget details or to leave rules of safety on the back-burner.
- Take extra care when positioning a car on a lift outdoors in undesirable weather conditions, such as snow, ice, or rain. The car may slip, fail to reach a complete standstill when expected, or present other hazards.
- When it’s necessary to drive a vehicle onto a lift, ensure the driver is guided by a second person, to ensure proper placement of the vehicle and to prevent it from being accidentally driven off the lift. This second person is usually positioned at the front and to the side, so he is able to properly guide the vehicle operator onto the auto lift and then to a complete standstill.
- When the car is in position and ready to be lifted, inspect the frame of the car to ensure solidity and to pinpoint where you will lift the car from. Working from a safe position, ensure the frame is solid enough to hold the weight of the car. You don’t want it to snap due to a rusty a frame or improper positioning; the entire car could topple over and cause serious injury (not to mention the damage to the car itself).
- When you begin lifting a vehicle, stop the lift just after the car has risen off the ground, go to the back of it, and give it a good shake and shove to ensure it's solidly on there. If it shakes too much, or if you have any doubts that it will hold, lower the vehicle back down to the ground and repeat the initial set-up procedure. Ensure the vehicle is properly balanced and that it won’t cause any hazard to the mechanic working on it.
- Once a vehicle has been elevated to the required height, turn on the holding device (also called a “lock” or a “latch”); this safety feature is fitted to all lifts and is there in case the hydraulics or electronics fail. (Even though all lifts are built with safety in mind, it can occur.) The safely locks are mechanical and are built to hold even in the face of other malfunctions.
- Never leave the controls of an automotive lift while it is in motion, and do not pull away someone who is operating a lift. Complete the full procedure (of lifting and lowering the vehicle) before you walk away.
- When you lower the vehicle, ensure there are no people, objects, or body parts in the way - such as your feet. Do a full inspection of the area and remove any tools that may have been left in the area or on the ground beneath the vehicle. Once the area is fully clear, ensure your fellow workers are informed that you will be lowering the vehicle and that they stay well out of the way.