Shop fatality stresses need for Automotive Lift Institute’s safety program

Last week we reported the tragic news that a 28-year-old man was killed when an automotive lift fell on him at a Blue Springs, Mo. repair shop. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the incident, which demonstrates the importance of safe operating practices in the automotive repair industry. OSHA says it will complete its investigation in six months.

The Blue Springs, Mo. police department confirmed that the victim was trapped under a lift at the time of the accident. Local media reported the accident occurred when a group of men were attempting to move the lift. When asked about reports that the victim was killed by a vehicle falling on him, a police spokesperson told VehicleServicePros that the man was killed by a lift, and not a vehicle.

While workplace injuries have declined since 1992, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, automotive repair shops need to adhere to safe practices to prevent such incidents. 

Fortunately, the Automotive Lift Institute (ALI) has taken a proactive role in providing aftermarket companies with excellent safety guidance. Just this past June, ALI published a 16-page Vehicle Lift Guide, which was included with the June issue of PTEN magazine. The guide explains the ALI Lift Inspector Certification Program, the industry’s first third-party vehicle lift inspector certification program, which joins ALI’s familiar “Gold Label” lift certification program. ALI also provides lift safety and training materials on its website,

The lift inspector certification program marks the first such program in North America to independently test and certify vehicle lift inspectors.

R.W. “Bob” O’Gorman, ALI president, notes there are now 490 candidates seeking certification through the ALI Lift Inspector Certification Program in the U.S. and Canada, and the number is growing each day. There are currently ALI certified inspectors in 22 states.

ALI developed the program in response to automotive aftermarket companies’ concerns. “Annual lift inspections are required in most of the United States and Canada,” he explains. “But in the past, shop owners didn’t have a good resource to find qualified lift inspectors. The ALI Lift Inspector Certification Program provides third-party assurance that when you hire a Certified Lift Inspector you are hiring an individual who has been proven to have the knowledge, skills and integrity to inspect your vehicle lifts to ensure that they are operating as designed to keep your shop safe and productive.”

In addition to testing and certifying lift inspectors, ALI helps shops find local qualified inspectors through an online directory searchable by postal code:

O’Gorman also notes the importance of shops following safe operating instructions provided by lift manufacturers and further supported by ALI’s “Lifting It Right” Safety DVD hosted by NASCAR legends Richard and Kyle Petty.

Safety has to be top of mind for everyone in the automotive aftermarket. The ALI has invested several years and more than $700,000 to develop its Lift Inspector Certification Program. It’s up to individual industry members to make use of safety training and inspection.