Vehicle Lift Safety

Garage with a line of cars on lifts

Vehicle lifts are widely used throughout the automotive service industry and are very effective pieces of equipment when proper safety procedures are followed. There are different types of lifts which include two-post surface mounted, four post, in-ground, mobile, etc. Each type of lift has specific safety procedures for safely lifting the vehicles.

Since 2007, OSHA has conducted several automotive lift inspections, 11 of which resulted from fatalities. Click here to read more about one of these fatalities.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a total of 15,000 workers were treated in hospitals for automotive lift, jack or jack stand injuries.

What are the employers responsibilities?

  • Ensure that annual inspections are conducted by a qualified lift service company.
  • Ensure daily inspections and proper operation of arm restraints, locking devices, shut off devices for over travel, lift controls, drive chains, wire rope, hoses, wiring, hydraulic leaks, floor cracks, and anchors.
  • Ensure that all users of the vehicle lifts are properly trained in the safe operation and maintain the training logs.
    • Many lift service companies provide training as an additional value added service.
  • Maintain all vehicle lift maintenance and/or repair logs.
  • Ensure a lockout/tagout program is in place for all vehicle lifts in the facility.

What are the operators responsibilities?

  • Immediately report any unsafe conditions identified during the daily inspection to your Supervisor.
  • Never use a vehicle lift without receiving proper safety training.
  • Always utilize all safety features per the manufacturer’s instruction.
    • Example: ALWAYS lower the lift onto the safety locks before proceeding to work under the vehicle.
  • Become familiar with vehicle lift points, which can be found in the service manuals and/or manufacturer’s instructions.
  • ALWAYS inspect the vehicle prior to lifting. Certain conditions may change the vehicles stability such as snow or ice buildup in a truck bed, a plumbing or mechanical van with excessive weight in the back.  
  • Maintain a clean work area to avoid slip or trip hazards that can cause injury.

What are some common violations that we see?

  • Failure to properly lower the vehicle onto the safety locks. This places the entire load force on the hydraulics, which creates a significant crush-by hazard should the hydraulics fail.
  • Failure to conduct vehicle lift safety training for all operators.
  • Failure to retain the proper documentation of the following:
    • Safety training.
    • Maintenance/repair logs.
    • Lift inspections.

More information regarding vehicle lift safety is available from the Automotive Lift Institute and the Automotive Equipment Technical Institute. 

Please reach out to your MEMIC Loss Control Representative with any questions or for further assistance.