Following an in-depth review of bus and truck maintenance facilities across North America, combined with heightened service demands resulting from the increased severity of weather events over the past decade, heavy-duty vehicle lift manufacturer Stertil-Koni recommends 10 top tips to improve safety for the busy technicians working on the shop floor.
Consider this: An early fall and winter prediction by AccuWeather forecasters is sobering. AccuWeather states that warmer El Niño conditions pushing in more rain in the East and Southeast could lead to additional flash flooding. Meanwhile, the Central and Northern Plains will get a little bit of everything, including a threat of early-season snow. The Southern Rocky Mountains could be hard hit again this winter with above average snowfall and average precipitation is projected in the New England area, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“With the fall and winter months fast approaching and weather conditions shifting at a record pace, now is the time to plan for, and advance your preventative maintenance (PM) strategies,” noted Peter Bowers, technical sales support manager at Stertil-Koni. “The advantages are compelling, especially in the form of heightened shop safety, prolonged vehicle life, reduced failures and breakdowns, and sustained maximum vehicle uptime,” added Bowers.
With so much riding on commercial vehicles and the maintenance personnel that service them, Stertil-Koni has developed 10 top tips for the safe operation of HD vehicle lifts during cold winter months.
Top 10 Tips for Lift Safety
- Certification is Significant – Consider purchasing lifts certified by the Automotive Lift Institute (ALI). The ANSI/ALI ALCTV (current edition) is the standard for automotive lifts. This lift certification program makes it easy for buyers to choose lifts that meet all safety requirements for construction, testing and validation. The ALI gold label is the only guarantee that a lift has been independently proven to meet stringent industry standards.
- Lift Choice and Capacity – Know in advance the weight of the heaviest vehicle to be lifted and make certain that the lift selected is certified to meet or exceed that capacity. Also, confirm the height of the vehicle is appropriate for your shop’s ceiling height.
- Learn the Lift – Well-trained lift operators should know the lift’s use and abilities, prior to powering up. Proper training ensures safe and efficient operation and prepares the user for an emergency situation. Keep a copy of the manufacturer’s lift manual nearby at all times.
- Safety First – During lift set up check the perimeter of the lift to confirm that nothing is obstructing its path and there are no hazards in the lifting area. Lift the vehicle no more than 12 inches off the ground, pause, and do another sweep of the area to further check that there are no impediments.
- Stability is Key – Always place lifts on a firm foundation and on level ground. This is especially important with Mobile Column Lifts – as they can be easily relocated for operation both inside and outside of the maintenance shop. When outside, check for wind loads. Further, select a lift with an “electronic synchronization” system. As the lift goes into motion and continues through the full-range up to its maximum height, vehicles should rise smoothly, even those with unequal weight distribution, such as fire trucks and pumpers. Assure that the lifted vehicle itself is level.
- Adhere to Proper Lifting Points – At all times use designated lifting points on the vehicle. For inground lifts, operators should check that the contact points are properly positioned.
- Technician Protection – Lift vehicles to a proper height so technicians can move about freely, safely and comfortably underneath the vehicle. Verify lifts are locked in position before standing under the vehicle.
- Maintain a Lift Maintenance Schedule – Make sure lifts receive annual inspections by a certified ALI lift inspector. Also, use factory or manufacturer-authorized technicians to service and repair your lifts.
- Create a Culture of Safety – Publicly and prominently post service bulletins, safety messages, and continuously update the skills of all technicians. This is vital to a smooth-running maintenance facility.
- Accessorize your Lift – Utilize lift accessories specifically designed to help ensure fleet maintenance operator safety and proper ergonomics. One example is a high lift wheel dolly, which allows wheel removal and adequate alignment of dual tire assemblies and brake drums to be completed efficiently and accurately, without back strain.
In conclusion, noted Dr. Jean DellAmore, Stertil-Koni USA president, “Safety is always mission No. 1 in the service bay. That is precisely why we suggest using a well-planned safety-first approach so that shop technicians can perform their duties efficiently, ergonomically and with complete confidence. It also creates a positive workplace atmosphere, helps improve worker retention and contributes to greater longevity of the vehicles being serviced and the maintenance equipment the techs operate.”