Understanding the Risks of Scissor Lift Falls on Construction Sites

by | Apr 5, 2024 | Construction Accident, Firm News, Industrial Accident

Scissor lifts are widely used on construction sites to provide a stable and mobile platform for workers needing to access elevated work areas. Despite their utility, these platforms present significant hazards when not operated correctly, often leading to catastrophic falls and serious injuries. In this article, we will explore the common causes of scissor lift falls on construction projects, including unstable surfaces, overloading, weather conditions, and improper use. We’ll also discuss ways to mitigate these risks to ensure safer operations.

The Risks of Unstable Surfaces

One of the leading causes of scissor lift tip-overs is operating the equipment on uneven or unstable surfaces. Construction sites are inherently dynamic environments with shifting terrain and variable ground conditions. If a scissor lift is positioned on a slope or soft soil, the imbalance can easily cause the platform to tip, especially when fully extended. Moreover, stabilizers must be correctly deployed to provide additional support. Without this critical step, even slight inclines can compromise the lift’s balance, increasing the risk of a fall.

To address this issue, operators should always inspect the terrain before moving or setting up the lift and use appropriate stabilizers or supports to secure it. Surface inspections should be routine, and any discrepancies in the ground must be resolved before work begins. By ensuring a level and firm surface, workers can significantly reduce the likelihood of a scissor lift tipping over.

Overloading and Weight Distribution

Overloading the platform is another common cause of scissor lift accidents. Each lift is designed to support a maximum load capacity, which includes both workers and equipment. However, workers may sometimes exceed these limits, either through a lack of awareness or urgency to complete their tasks. This overloading shifts the lift’s center of gravity beyond a safe threshold, especially when the platform is moving or if the lift is already positioned on uneven ground.

It’s crucial for workers to be aware of the scissor lift’s weight capacity and distribute equipment evenly across the platform. Comprehensive training should emphasize that even minor overloading can make the platform unstable, leading to a fall. Managers should monitor usage closely and conduct routine checks to prevent overloading.

Wind and Weather Hazards

Scissor lifts are particularly susceptible to strong winds, which can destabilize or sway the platform, increasing the risk of tipping over. When fully extended, the platform acts like a sail, catching wind gusts and making it harder to maintain balance. This issue is especially critical at greater heights, where wind speeds are higher, and the operator has less control over the lift.

Operators should be trained to assess wind speeds before elevating the platform and to lower it immediately if gusts become too strong. Most manufacturers provide specific guidelines on safe wind speed limits for their lifts, and adhering to these standards can prevent unnecessary accidents. Additionally, avoiding usage during extreme weather conditions like heavy rain or ice is essential, as wet or icy surfaces can further compromise stability.

Improper Use and Lack of Training

Improper operation of the scissor lift can also lead to tip-overs. Moving the lift while the platform is elevated, making sudden adjustments, or failing to secure stabilizers can all disrupt balance and cause the lift to fall. Even seemingly minor actions, like leaning over the guardrails, can shift the weight and affect stability.

Comprehensive training on the proper use of scissor lifts is essential to prevent these accidents. Workers should be familiar with the specific model they are operating, understand the importance of stabilizers, and avoid moving the lift while it’s extended. Regular refresher courses can help reinforce these practices and ensure that all personnel understand the risks involved.


Scissor lifts are valuable tools on construction sites but require careful handling to prevent accidents. Understanding the risks associated with unstable surfaces, overloading, wind hazards, and improper use is critical for reducing falls. By implementing strict safety protocols, providing thorough training, and monitoring usage, construction sites can minimize the likelihood of scissor lift accidents and create a safer work environment. Victims of scissor lift falls should consult with a personal injury attorney to understand their rights and pursue compensation for injuries resulting from negligent practices.

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.