We’ve all seen news stories about a technician that was injured or killed by a car falling off an automotive lift. While it’s true that technicians are more likely than the average worker to be injured or killed on the job, as evidenced by higher rates of fatalities and injuries, in no way does this mean that harm has to come your way.
In many cases, injuries result from carelessness and complaceny, which is the human element of the craft you practice every day. Hey, we all know the human race isn’t perfect, but there is a magic ingredient you can use to keep the odds in your favor—knowledge of the things that can keep you safe. Oh, sure, there are a host of private and governmental agencies that work to keep you safe, but none of their efforts can help you without using good safety practices. Whether you’re a shop owner or technician, there’s only one agency truly working in your self-interest—you.
Q: When shopping for a lift, is there something like the “Good Housekeeping Seal” that I can use to make sure a given lift is safe?
A: Yes. Consider this: According to a 2005 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1.5 injury and illness lift-related incidents for every 10,000 full-time automotive repair and maintenance employees. In that same year, eight fatal occupational injuries involving jacks (lifts) occurred. In the following year, the rate for lift-related injury and illness incidents increased to 4.6, while the number of fatal occupational injuries involving jacks rose to 13.
With that in mind, make sure that any lifts on your shopping list meet ANSI/ALI ALCTV (current edition), “American National Standard for Automotive Lifts - Safety Requirements for Construction, Testing and Validation.” This is the only current standard in North America that governs the design and construction of automotive lifts. This standard addresses the U.S. electrical requirements associated with an automotive lift by incorporating compliance and third-party listing to ANSI UL 201 (current edition), “Safety Standard for Garage Equipment.”
For automotive lifts used in the Canadian markets, third-party listing as evidence of compliance with CAN/CSA Std. C22.2 No. 68 is required. Look for a gold certification label from the Automotive Lift Institute (ALI), demonstrating full compliance with applicable U.S. Standards. In Canada, this label also represents full compliance with the applicable Canadian National Standard as shown on the certification label. Meeting these standards requires third-party testing and validation by an OSHA-accredited, Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) such as Intertek Testing Services (ETL).
Depending on the lift, look for one of three different certification labels: 1) mechanical compliance only in the U.S. and Canada, 2) mechanical and electrical compliance in the U.S. And Canada, and 3) mechanical and electrical compliance only in the U.S.
Q: Does the industry offer any sort of training for lift usage?
A: Yes, the Automotive Lift Institute (ALI) offers a training program called “Lifting It Right” which encourages best practices when using lifts. Use this for every technician in your shop, not just the entry-level techs. You’d be amazed how many experienced technicians have developed bad habits when it comes to using lifts. Don’t stop there. Keep a copy of ALI’s most recent “Vehicle Lifting Points for Frame Engaging Lifts” near every lift so that the proper lift points are used on each and every vehicle raised on a lift. This habit goes beyond safety; it could also prevent expensive vehicle damage that may result from improper lifting.
Q:Are there some basic essentials we can use for lift safety that we can use in our shop?
A: Yes, the Automotive Lift Institute (ALI) recommends the following safety tips for lift usage. ALI recommends posting them in a spot where they will serve as a constant reminder to lift operators in your shop.