What's Riding on Your Lifts?

Lifts must be maintained and inspected regularly to ensure safety.

There’s more riding on your vehicle lifts than cars and trucks. If you’re the technician who relies on a lift to get your job done every day, your safety is riding on it. If you’re the shop owner whose livelihood depends on your technicians’ safety and performance, your business is riding on it. With so much riding on your lifts, it is crucial that they are properly maintained and inspected regularly to ensure proper performance.

In fact, there is an entire American National Standard outlining the safety requirements for proper vehicle lift operation, inspection and maintenance. This standard, ANSI/ALI ALOIM (current edition), covers lift operator qualifications, training and responsibilities; maintenance procedures, documentation, and frequency; and periodic qualified lift inspection.

In addition to regular in-house inspections, the standard requires that all vehicle lifts be inspected at least annually by a “qualified lift inspector.” A lift inspection is a thorough evaluation of the operating mechanism(s), safety system(s), maintenance, structural integrity, and field modifications of a particular lift in order to identify any risks which may affect the ability of that lift to operate in a safe and reliable manner.

So what is a “qualified lift inspector,” how do you find one, and what takes place during a lift inspection? To get the answers to these questions, we turned to representatives and members of the Automotive Lift Institute (ALI), a trade association of North American-based vehicle lift manufacturers. ALI’s mission is to promote the safe design, construction, installation, service, inspection and use of vehicle lifts.

“When buying a vehicle lift, you are making an investment,” explains Radu Pop, market research analyst for lift manufacturer MAHA USA. “Regular inspection and maintenance is the best way to maximize ROI and to extend the life of the vehicle lift. A properly operating vehicle lift not only makes the mechanic’s job easier, it will also improve performance, revenue and, foremost, safety.”

From “Qualified” to “Certified”

For some shop owners, finding a qualified lift inspector to inspect their lifts has been a challenge. Although the ANSI Standard outlines some lift inspector qualifications, for many years there was no national resource for finding qualified inspectors. In this buyer-beware environment, the best option lift owners had was to get recommendations from the manufacturers of their lifts. That all changed with the launch of the Automotive Lift Institute Lift Inspector Certification Program in October 2012.

“OSHA and other health and safety officers have really stepped up enforcement of lift safety and inspection standards in recent years, leading to growing demand for qualified lift inspectors,” says R.W. “Bob” O’Gorman, ALI president. “In response, ALI invested several years and more than $700,000 to develop the ALI Lift Inspector Certification Program. This program is the first in North America to independently test and certify vehicle lift inspectors. As a result, when lift owners hire an ALI Certified Lift Inspector, they have third-party assurance that the inspector has been proven competent to thoroughly inspect any vehicle lift.”

The ALI Lift Inspector Certification Program is an extension of the association’s other safety-related undertakings, including lift standards development, its third-party lift certification program, and the development of safety and training materials for the industry.

The first group of lift inspectors to achieve certification was announced in May 2013. To find a local company with Certified Lift Inspectors on staff, visit ALI’s online database at www.autolift.org/certified-inspectors.php. The database is searchable by zip code and will be continuously updated as additional inspectors achieve certification.

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