Need A Lift

Guidelines for buying the lift that provides the best value


ALI contracts with Intertek Testing Services (ETL), a global product testing, inspection and certification organization, to fill the role of certification program administrator. As such, ETL conducts third-party tests of vehicle lifts to determine whether they meet the set safety and performance standards.

"ALI certification is an easy way to determine if you're being sold a premium automotive lift or a bill of goods," says BendPak's Kritzer. "ALI, which operates as a watchdog group for the entire automotive lifting industry, exists to not only protect and inform consumers, but also to ensure a high level of safety and engineering in the design of each lift that carries its badge. Automotive lifts are very safe, as long as they are properly operated and manufactured in such a way that minimizes the potential for user error."

According to R. W. (Bob) O'Gorman, ALI president, the ANSI standards that apply to automotive service lifts are:

• The American National Standard ANSI/ALI ALCTV (2006 edition) - Safety Requirements For Construction, Testing and Validation.
• The American National Standard ANSI/ALI ALOIM (2008 edition) - Safety Requirements For Operation, Inspection and Maintenance.
• The American National Standard ANSI/ALI ALIS (2009 edition) - Safety Requirements For Installation and Service.

Since 2003, ANSI/ALI ALCTVs has been included as part of the International Building Code (IBC), O'Gorman explains. The IBC has been adopted at the state or local level in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. In Canada, agencies such as Worksafe BC, the Ontario Ministry of Labour and the OHS groups responsible for Labrador/New Foundland and Alberta have all adopted ANSI/ALCTV.

Among other things, the ANSI/ALI ALCTVs provides general requirements for the strength of all vehicle lift components and for general requirements covering drive components, electrical components, control devices and speeds, says Rotary Lift's Rylee. They also cover specific requirements for a wide variety of elements, including welding, runways, adapters, swing arms, travel limits, load-holding devices, accessory equipment and other safety considerations.

Additionally, there are ANSI/ALI ALCTV requirements for quality assurance systems and procedures, testing and validation, and for governing lift instructions and labeling, he adds.

O'Gorman says standards and certification programs are important because the buyer of the product is extended protection, and companies are held accountable for compliance to those standards and programs as a matter of life safety and buyer confidence.

ACCESSORY CERTIFICATION

It is not well know that accessories and adapters are also subject to certification. The ALI states that "the use of non-certified options or accessories on a certified lift will void the certification of the lift," Rylee points out.

"If OSHA comes to do a shop inspection and doesn't see a certification sticker, the lift could be placed out of service," adds Perlstein. "A lift can't be certified once it is in the field, so it will have to be replaced - and that is quite an expensive undertaking."

While certified vehicle lifts are identifiable by the gold "ALI Certified/Validated by ETL" label, certified accessories are not as recognizable. ALI provides a list of certified accessories online at www.ali-directory.org. The list is searchable by manufacturer, model number or rated capacity.

Certification of vehicle lifts is voluntary. There are no legal requirements that lifts sold in the U.S. be certified to meet the standards, regardless of where the lifts are manufactured.

"Now that all states require that any lift installed be certified to meet ANSI/ALI standards, it is possible that a shop could buy a non-certified lift, but not be able to have it installed legally," explains Rylee. "In addition to risking having the lift tagged out of service at a subsequent shop inspection, installing a non-certified lift also puts technician productivity and safety at risk."

Both Rylee and Mohawk Lift's Perlstein called attention to an influx of cheap, off-shore light duty lifts, especially two-post models that have been coming into the industry in the past decade. "Responsibility for buying and installing certified lifts rests with the customer," they emphasize.

BUYER BEWARE

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