Make sure that technicians receive training
There is consensus among manufacturers that training for technicians is paramount for them to understand how to safely operate vehicle lifts. At a basic level, manufacturers recommend that technicians read the lift’s owners manual from cover to cover to become familiar with its safety features and how to operate the lift. Dellamore notes that technicians should also receive training from the manufacturer.
SEFAC provides a training session for its customers after they have purchased a lift that covers a variety of scenarios, including what could happen if the lift is not operated properly.
“The training is very detailed and structured. We go through the basics, from parking the vehicle to how the lifts should be positioned under the vehicle’s tires,” Mason says.
At the end of the session, the company receives a certificate of competency indicating that the staff has been trained on how to use the lift.
The ALI Website also provides training resources for technicians. Steven Perlstein recommends the Lift Operator/Inspector Training Pack. The pack includes a 20-minute video, and at the end there is a test that covers vehicle lift safety principles and practices. (For more information about the pack, visit the ALI Website and click on “ALI Store.”)
Perlstein says technicians should take the test annually because Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials who may periodically visit pupil transportation operations will not only check to confirm that vehicle lifts are properly certified, they will also ask whether the technicians have been trained to use the lifts.
Roger Perlstein says that along with receiving annual training, a lift’s “lock-out, tag-out” protocol must be communicated to technicians at least once a year.
“Lock-out, tag-out signifies that you’ve identified that there’s something about the machine that isn’t right, something that makes it dangerous. As soon as you become aware of it, you must lock that machine out so that nobody can use it until it is repaired and safe to use,” Perlstein explains, adding that communicating lock-out, tag-out protocol to end users is an OSHA requirement.
Inspect vehicle lifts regularly
Just as school buses must be inspected and maintained on a regular basis to function properly, Dellamore emphasizes the importance of inspecting vehicle lifts at least once annually to make certain that they are well maintained and operating correctly.
Roger Perlstein says the inspection should involve checking the anchors that are holding the lift to the ground — they should be secure. Also, lifting cables should be intact (i.e., not frayed).
Rotary Lift is informing vehicle lift users of the once-a-year inspection requirement and is helping them to understand the role they play in preventing lift hazards through an awareness campaign called “Inspect to Protect.”
The company provides lift users with documentation from OSHA Region 8 indicating that agency officials will visit operations to determine whether their vehicle lifts meet construction standards for safety, whether the lift is being maintained and if the operations can provide all records of lift maintenance.
“OSHA wants to make sure that the bolts that hold the lift down are tight, that the welds aren’t broken, that there’s nothing on the lift that is bent, that the locking system locks, etc., and they want to see a document that indicates that a qualified individual is looking for these kinds of things on a regular basis. They want to see a maintenance log,” Roger Perlstein explains.
Steven Perlstein concurs, saying that OSHA officials will want to see documentation that vehicle lifts are regularly inspected.
To assist technicians in performing vehicle lift inspections, he recommends utilizing two booklets that contain the national standards for vehicle lifts: The ANSI/ALI ALOIM Standard booklet outlines safety requirements for the operation, inspection and maintenance of automotive lifts. The ANSI/ALI ALIS Standard booklet outlines safety requirements for installation and service of automotive lifts. Both booklets are available on the ALI Website store.