If you use car lifts in your place of business, it’s a good idea to understand and practice some common-sense safety principles. The possibility of a car or truck falling off of a lift with you underneath and/or a passerby in close proximity is too serious to take lightly. Lack of training, operator error, not paying attention and neglected maintenance are major causes of lift-related accidents. Fortunately, BendPak’s NASPO contracts for vehicle lifts are fully third-party certified for safety and effectiveness.
1. Find the gold label of safety
There’s only one nationally recognized safety standard for vehicle lifts: ANSI-ALI/ALCTV, administered by the Automotive Lift Institute (ALI/ETL). ETL testing labs verify that a manufacturer’s lifts meet the national safety standard for vehicle lifts. Working through ETL testing procedures, the Automotive Lift Institute implements rigorous third-party testing to verify that lift manufacturers comply with current ANSI requirements for lifts, as defined by the International Building Code, which mandates lifts be third-party tested to meet these safety requirements. To verify equipment status, look for the gold ALI / ETL verification tag next to the lift’s controls.
2. Know your owner responsibilities
Business owners should provide all technicians with proper training before allowing them to operate vehicle lifting equipment. If the owner does not feel comfortable delivering the training, the car lift manufacturer or installation/service company may be employed. Likewise, if a facility uses more than one type of car lift, separate training must be delivered for each type. NASPO works with BendPak to help you find the right vehicle lifts, but it’s up to the purchaser to oversee the training and implementation of safety procedures.
Technicians must know the maximum weight capacities, how the controls operate, proper vehicle spotting methods, lift safety features, rules for safe lifting and good housekeeping procedures. There are excellent materials available to assist in training delivery. The owner's manual for each lift contains safety and operating instructions for each lift, and it must be carefully reviewed by operators before they attempt to operate the lift.
ALI provides a variety of safety materials related to car lifts. These materials are included with vehicle lifts that conform to the American National Standard governing car lift Construction, Testing and Validation. The materials include the safety manual "Lifting It Right" and the Operation Inspection and Maintenance standard "ANSI/ALOIM" manuals. Also available from ALI is a training video and a competency test for lift operators. These materials contain important information and provide checklists and verification forms that can be included in a facility's lift safety, inspection and maintenance programs.
All training must be properly documented per ANSI/ALl ALOIM and retained for future reference. Owners should also ensure that all of the necessary safety labels and instruction postings are attached to the lift or located near the controls. These materials include illustrated warning labels and ALI wall poster "Safety Tips." These materials serve to reinforce safe lifting procedures. Worn, unreadable or lost labels and instruction postings should be replaced immediately. For frame-engaging lifts, a copy of the ALVLP "Vehicle lifting Points - Quick Reference Guide" should be kept nearby. This manual provides vehicle maker specified lifting points for passenger cars, vans and light trucks.
Each annual publication covers the most recent 20 years of domestic and imported vehicles.
3. Manage technician responsibilities
Technicians should maintain constant awareness of the many hazards involved with lifting vehicles. Preventative measures can be taken to minimize the chance of lift-related accidents. Be aware of which inspections are part of your job. The lifts that support the vehicles being repaired in your garage represent one of the most productive tools in your shop, and if not used and maintained properly, one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment for your techs.
4. Vehicle weight distribution may be uneven
No NASPO contract vehicle lift should be overloaded beyond its rated lift capacity. This may be easier said than done. For instance, a large, 10,000-lb. bus may be loaded on a 12K two-post lift, and even though the bus is less than the lift’s rated capacity, the vehicle may be heavier in the front (with the engine and other offsetting components). Each arm on the 12K lift is rated at 3,000 lbs. If the front of the bus weighs 7,000 lbs., each arm will be overloaded by 500 lbs. Overloading a lift is a leading cause of lift failure.
Do not make the dangerous assumption that “the lift can take it,” even though ALI testing demands a significant level of over-engineering. If something goes wrong due to gross operator negligence, you can be held liable for death, injury and/or damages.
5. Complete all safety checks
As stated in ALI’s “Safety Requirements for Construction, Testing, and Validation,” car lift operators should conduct safety inspections on a daily basis. Additionally, an annual inspection should be conducted by a trained ALI professional. ALI keeps a
public record of their inspections, so companies cannot “hide” the date of their last inspection (or the fact they never had one). NASPO paid its due diligence when awarding BendPak the vehicle lift contract, because taxpayers would ultimately be the ones covering the costs of lawsuits stemming from injuries and property damage associated with non-certified car lift failures.
6. Training and testing
Since all car lifts available under BendPak’s NASPO contract is fully certified, individual state entities do not need to worry about safety on the purchasing end. They do need to concern themselves, however, with the maintenance and responsible training of their car lift operators. ANSI requires technicians to be trained annually in proper lift use.
7. Watch this first
Please have all your vehicle lift operators watch this excellent video titled Lifting it Right, hosted by none other than legendary NASCAR driver Richard Petty.