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Scissor lift failure in motor vehicle repair facility

Health and Safety Executive - Safety Notice
Department Name: Operational Strategy Division - Manufacturing Sector (Engineering Team)
Bulletin No: OPSTD MS 2-2010
Issue Date: 26th February 2010
Target Audience: Motor Vehicle Repair (MVR), Manufacturing (general); Engineering; Transport-road
Key Issues: Potential for catastrophic failure of short-bed scissor lift used in Motor Vehicle Repair. Lifts manufactured by Texo, may be badged as Hofmann models. Immediate visual examination of lifting arms for cracks required. Discontinue use of any non-standard lifting blocks immediately and consult manufacturer's revised instructions.

Introduction:

This alert concerns short-bed scissor lifts manufactured by Texo, which may also be badged as Hofmann. It is issued following the catastrophic failure of a 10 year old machine used in a motor vehicle repair (MVR) facility. Although no one was injured, a failure of this type with an operator working below or nearby is potentially fatal.

The failed lift was labelled as Hofmann Genius PSC3 with a safe working load of 3 tonnes and is shown in photographs 1 and 2. A similar model is shown extended in photograph 3.  It had been maintained and subject to thorough examination and testing.

Examination of four identical lifts at the premises revealed similar cracks at the same position such as that shown in photograph 4.  Since the incident HSE has received a report from another premises of similar cracks on a Hofmann PSC3 scissor lift

Background:

Scissor lifts can be either short bed or long bed, and either be recessed into the ground (as in the photos below) or surface mounted. Short-bed scissor lift platforms make contact with the vehicle body between the front and rear wheels e.g. through contact with the seam between the floor panel and sill. The lift may have accessories such as profiled rubber lifting blocks, which provide a slot for the lifting point and reduce the height at which the lift commences raising the vehicle. Long-bed scissor lifts have platforms, similar to four-post lifts, which support the vehicle wheels.

The type of in-ground short-bed scissor lift that failed closes so that the platforms are flush with the floor. Considerable force is necessary to open the lift from this fully-closed position, but is within the design load.  To prevent overloading, the weight of the vehicle should not be taken by the platforms until they have been raised out of the floor into their designated lifting position (which allows for insertion of the supplied profiled block). 

Scissor lifts are less common than two-post or four-post lifts in MVR but there are believed to be at least 1000 short-bed scissor lifts in the UK in all types of MVR facilities including tyre and exhaust fitting premises. There are possibly several hundred lifts of this particular model, some labelled as Hofmann but all manufactured by Texo in Italy

Texo believe that the failure may have been caused by the user inserting non-standard items such as wooden blocks as shown in photograph 6.  This causes the load to be applied before the platform has risen to its lifting position and significantly increases the force exerted on the pivots - potentially in excess of the design strength.  They have amended their instruction manual to say:

This instruction must be followed to avoid damages to the Lift:

  • The lift must be raised at least 150mm out of the ground before taking the load.
  • Only use the rubber blocks supplied with the lift.
  • It is important NOT to use any other means to decrease the distance between the lift platform and the lifting point of the vehicle.

Surface-mounted short bed scissor lifts and all long bed scissor lifts are designed to support the load from any position so the supplier believes they should not experience this type of overloading.

Theoretically, the risk of overload through incorrect use could apply to any in-ground scissor lift but HSE is not aware of problems with other manufacturers' machines.

Action taken:

The original UK supplier of the lifts is no longer in business so it is difficult to trace all users. The current supplier, however, is aware of the failure and has notified both their existing customers and the manufacturer.  In addition, the Garage Equipment Association, GEA, have informed other lift-supply companies about the incident.

The bodies who represent organisations carrying out vehicle lift inspections, the Safety Assessment Federation (SAFed) and the Independent National Inspection and Testing Association (INITA), have informed their members.

Action required:

Relevant legal documents:

References:

BS EN 1493:1999 + A1:2008 Vehicle lifts British Standards Institution

Further information:

Further information is available in "Safe use of Lifting Equipment" Approved Code of Practice and Guidance (L113).

General note:

Please pass this information to a colleague who may have this Product/ Equipment or operate this type of system/process.

2011-01-21