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Scissor Lifts Can Be Death Traps Without Safety Precautions

Steve Wagner

Man lifts, such as scissor lifts, offer a world of convenience for working in elevated spots, and finds frequent use in construction sites, warehouses, factories, film shootings, sporting events, and a host of other places.

However, for all the convenience, scissor lifts can also be dangerous pieces of equipment. These lifts become veritable death traps when not installed or maintained properly, or when operated by untrained hands.

The latest statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), reports an average of 22 fatal injuries a year from operating a man lift.

In one of the recent high-profile incidents, a 20-year-old student at Notre-Dame University, filming a football practice, was killed when the hydraulic scissor lift he was on toppled over in high winds. In October 2012, OSHA held Notre Dame University guilty of six safety violations, and imposed a fine of $77,500. The main charge was ignoring the National Weather Service warnings. Wind speeds touched 53 mph on that fatal day, when the lift is considered unsafe at winds above 30 mph.

In another incident, at a construction site accident that occurred in March 2011, a Lebanese contractor was killed and another worker seriously injured at the Allegheny Ludlum Steel manufacturing facility at New Castle. The victims used a scissor lift to work on an overhead crane. The lift toppled over from a height of 20 to 40 feet from the ground.

The risks of scissor lifts toppling over stem not just from heavy winds, but also when positioned on soft or non-level surfaces, or when overloaded with heavy objects. The workers using scissor lifts also remain at risk of electrocution if the lift makes contact with overhead power lines, or of being crushed if the lift runs into an overhead beam or ceiling. There is also the risk of falling off the lift, especially when the platform does not have guardrails.

The American National Standards Institute’s ANSI A92.3-2006 and A92.6-2006 establish standards for manufacturing, owning and operating scissor lifts. The Indiana Department of Labor extends free onsite consultations to employers, to identify and correct workplace hazards. Such measures would reduce instances of avoidable construction site accidents, such as scissor lift accidents, greatly.

Victims of man lift accidents can go ahead with wrongful death or personal injury claims, as the case may be, accusing the employers of neglecting to take adequate safety measures. Wagner Reese has a team of highly skilled and experienced workplace accident attorneys for this purpose.

Contact us at (888) 204-8440 for a free consultation with our work injury accident lawyers.

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