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Workplace injuries: OSHA highlights scissor lift hazards

In its ongoing quest for workers' safety in California and across the country, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently updated and released an alert about the dangers posed by scissor lifts. This followed a 12-month investigation into workplace accidents that were linked to aerial work platforms. These accidents caused the deaths of 10 workers and workplace injuries to more than 20 workers across the country.

OSHA stated that every one of those accidents was preventable as the cause of most was determined to be the failure of employers to provide and monitor the use of fall protection, along with the stability and positioning of the lift. According to the hazard alert, aerial work platforms -- or scissor lifts -- must have guardrails installed, and employers must ensure that workers never use the guardrails to obtain additional height by standing on them. Platforms must be positioned close enough to the work areas to prevent workers from leaning out of it.

Positioning the lift on stable ground is vital, and it must always be positioned no closer than 10 feet from any electrical power sources. The area around the lift must be kept clear of pedestrians and vehicles. Using a scissor lift in adverse weather conditions is dangerous, and the death of an untrained worker in 2010 gave rise to the initial hazard alert. In that incident, the lift was occupied by an employee filming a football team in 50 mph winds. The worker was killed when the lift was blown over.

OSHA also noted that it is important that only workers who have received adequate training in the operation and safety requirements of scissor lift be allowed to operate them. While employers are urged to follow the safety regulations, workplace injuries will likely continue to be caused by improper use of aerial work platforms. Fortunately, injured workers in California can pursue workers' compensation benefits to assist with unanticipated medical expenses and loss of wages.

Source: khl.com, "OSHA updates scissor lift hazard warning", Lindsey Anderson, Feb. 10, 2016

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