Scissor Lift Accident Reconstruction

Aerial Work Platform Accident Analysis
 

Scissor lifts are a useful, and often essential, piece of equipment for construction and maintenance operations. A scissor lift is a type of “Aerial Work Platform”, which is a broader term for devices that are designed to lift personnel to a certain height above the ground. Aerial work platforms in general can typically lift personnel to heights that would otherwise not be easily reachable. Scissor lifts are a very popular type of aerial work platform because they are relatively compact, and can lift vertically without taking up much external space aside from the footprint of the lift itself. All aerial work platforms are designed to lift personnel, and are not typically used for other payload lifting purposes (except in unique circumstances). Typically scissor lifts are suited for surfaces that are generally flat and hard, such as concrete factory floors or even hard-packed road base. Most scissor lifts do not have any sort of articulation built in to the drive wheels, reducing their ability to traverse uneven terrain.

 

Scissor Lift with Outriggers

Most scissor lifts are electric motor powered and carry large batteries within their chassis. Outdoor units can be powered with small internal combustion engines and may use compressed natural gas, propane, or even diesel as fuel. Typically the only components of a scissor lift that extend beyond the footprint of the machine are outriggers, which must be positioned properly to secure the base of the lift for increased stability when the lift is raised to significant heights.

Common Types of Scissor Lift Accidents
 

One danger of this equipment is the potential for the operator to fall from the platform when it is raised. Scissor lifts are typically able to raise the working platform to heights of 60 feet, or even higher with some models. While these lifts are equipped with a railing surrounding the personnel platform, if the operator is not properly positioned within the personnel platform while performing work, it is possible that the operator could lose their balance and fall off of the platform, causing injury.

Lift Collapse Accident

Issues such as crushing hazards from above (as the lift raises against a ceiling or exposed pipes) or contact with electrical lines are less common but can still be serious. Platform height is controlled by the operator, meaning that the operator may inadvertently position the lift too high and cause the operator compartment to come into contact with overhead hazards. While the majority of these accidents may initially seem to be caused by lack of proper training or operator error, our experience shows that the proper maintenance and functionality of the equipment can also be contributing factors. Veritech Engineers are experienced at evaluating the proper functionality and operation of scissor lifts as well as other aerial work platforms.

With the wide variety of experiences and backgrounds of our Professional Engineers, we are able to evaluate the functionality of the various mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic and electrical systems employed in equipment such as scissor lifts. Additionally, members of our staff have been trained in the proper operation of scissor lifts. Contact us today to discuss the specifics of your case.

Please contact one of our licensed professional engineers at 303-660-4395 to discuss your case and receive a free initial consultation with honest and candid comments.

Mark Kittel, PE

Mark Kittel, P.E., D.F.E

Principal Engineer

Joe Tremblay, PE