Preventing Tip-Overs with Scissor Lifts: Understanding the Risks and Legal Recourse

by | Jul 12, 2023 | Construction Accident, Firm News

Scissor lifts are commonly used on construction sites to safely and efficiently access elevated work areas. However, these platforms can pose a significant risk of tip-overs, resulting in serious injuries or fatalities for operators and workers nearby. Tip-overs are the leading cause of accidents involving scissor lifts, primarily due to improper setup, unstable ground conditions, or incorrect use. This article examines the risks and causes of tip-overs, the safety measures that can reduce the likelihood of these accidents, and the legal recourse available to injured workers.

Understanding the Risks of Tip-Overs with Scissor Lifts

Tip-overs occur when a scissor lift becomes unbalanced, causing the entire platform to fall sideways. These accidents often lead to crushing injuries, broken bones, and even fatalities. The risk of a tip-over increases significantly when the platform is fully elevated due to the raised center of gravity, which makes the lift more prone to instability. Other factors that contribute to tip-overs include:

  1. Unstable Ground Conditions: Placing scissor lifts on uneven or unstable ground, such as slopes or loose soil, can cause the lift to tip over, especially if stabilizers are not properly deployed.
  2. Overloading the Platform: Exceeding the manufacturer’s weight capacity or failing to distribute weight evenly on the platform can cause the lift to become unbalanced and fall.
  3. Strong Winds: Elevated scissor lifts are highly susceptible to strong winds, which can cause the platform to sway or tip over if the gusts exceed safe speed limits.
  4. Improper Movement: Moving or driving the lift while the platform is elevated significantly increases the likelihood of tip-overs.
  5. Mechanical Failures: Malfunctions in the hydraulic or braking systems can lead to sudden movement, making the platform unstable.

Preventive Measures to Reduce Tip-Over Risks

  1. Stabilize the Ground: Ensure the scissor lift is placed on firm, level ground before elevating the platform. Stabilizers or outriggers should be fully deployed if available. Avoid slopes, loose soil, or surfaces that cannot support the lift’s weight.
  2. Follow Weight Capacity Guidelines: Strictly adhere to the weight capacity specified by the manufacturer, including personnel and equipment. Distribute weight evenly on the platform to maintain balance.
  3. Monitor Wind Speeds: Be aware of wind conditions before and during the use of the lift. Avoid operating the lift if wind speeds exceed safe operating limits specified by the manufacturer.
  4. Pre-Operation Inspections: Conduct thorough pre-operation inspections to ensure mechanical components, brakes, and stabilizers function correctly.
  5. Avoid Moving While Elevated: Never move or drive the scissor lift while the platform is elevated. Always lower the platform completely before repositioning the lift.
  6. Operator Training: Ensure that all operators receive comprehensive training on scissor lift operation, safety protocols, and emergency procedures.

Legal Recourse for Injured Workers

Workers injured in scissor lift tip-overs often face significant medical expenses, lost wages, and long-term rehabilitation. Personal injury law firms can help victims pursue compensation by:

  1. Investigating the Accident: Collecting evidence from the accident scene, equipment maintenance logs, and eyewitness accounts to determine the cause of the tip-over.
  2. Identifying Responsible Parties: Identifying whether the equipment manufacturer, employer, or another party is liable for negligence or safety violations that contributed to the accident.
  3. Pursuing Compensation: Filing claims to secure compensation for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from the accident.


Tip-overs are a significant hazard associated with scissor lifts, often leading to severe injuries or fatalities. By understanding the common causes of tip-overs and implementing comprehensive safety measures, operators can reduce the likelihood of these accidents and create safer work environments. Injured workers should consult a personal injury attorney to understand their legal rights and explore compensation options for their injuries.

Our experienced lawyers have handled personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits of all kinds and have the skills needed to represent the families of loved ones who have lost their lives or those who have been seriously hurt.  The experienced scissor lift personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Spagnoletti Law Firm can help you understand your rights if you or a loved one was a victim of an accident involving a scissor lift.

Our lawyers have represented numerous workers who have sustained serious and catastrophic injuries on a job site as a result of the negligence of another party.  There are strict and short time limits on making claims, so please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or to learn more about your legal rights.