There are seven key steps that anyone working on commercial vehicles should observe before lifting heavy-duty work vehicles in commercial maintenance facilities.
“When it comes to using heavy-duty vehicle lifts, safety is paramount," explains Jean DellAmore, lift industry veteran and president of Stertil-Koni, which recently completed a research project on the safe use of vehicle lifts. "That’s why we strongly recommend a disciplined approach to ensure top performance and complete operator safety in all heavy-duty vehicle maintenance facilities."
1. Pay attention to capacity. Always double-check the weight of the heaviest vehicle you intend to lift. Make absolutely certain that the vehicle lift you select is certified to meet, or exceed, that threshold.
2. Carefully measure the height clearance of the facility. Specifically, prior to selecting a lifting system – whether it consists of mobile columns, two-post, four-post, in-ground scissor or piston-style lifts – measure the ceiling height in the facility and also note the height of the tallest vehicle you intend to service on the lift.
In that way, operators can determine if there is ample room to raise the vehicle to a serviceable height that in turn will permit a technician to comfortably work underneath the vehicle.
3. Consider lift positioning. With mobile column lifts, before you begin, always lift on a firm foundation on level ground.
In addition, when lifting outdoors, be aware of wind loads. Also, make certain that all personnel are clear of the vehicle and that the wheels on the vehicle being raised are properly engaged with the forks on the mobile column lifts. For in-ground piston lifts, operators should check that the contact points are properly positioned.
4. Select a lifting system that prevents unauthorized access to lift operation. This could take the form of a locked control box or a secure key or “wand” necessary to activate the lift system prior to use.
5. Select a lifting system that ensures stability. Look for “synchronization” that starts immediately when the lift goes into motion and continues through the full range of travel, ensuring safe and smooth lifting and lowering cycles, especially in cases where the vehicle weight distribution is unequal, such as three-axle fire trucks.
Further, examine the mechanical locking system on the lift and make certain it starts near the floor and continues right up the entire height of the lift.
6. Go wireless. For added safety, when using mobile column lifts, consider a system that offers wireless operation.
Certain wireless mobile column lifts are powered by a 24-volt Direct Current system and require no interconnecting cables. “Using this increasingly popular method, the operator has maximum access to the vehicle with no risk of tripping, as no external power source is needed to operate the lifts," DellAmore says.
7. Select heavy-duty vehicle lifts that are third-party tested and validated. Further, make certain that all lifts are subject to a regular program of scheduled maintenance - in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended schedule - and receive annual lift inspection by a certified lift inspector.
"Safe lifting should always be a top priority," DellAmore says. "It helps service technicians perform regular maintenance more easily, thereby ensuring the longevity of vehicles and equipment.”