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ANSI MH29.1:2020 – Safety Requirements for Industrial Scissors Lifts

“Over 20 years ago, Advance Lifts and a number of other leading manufacturers of industrial scissors lifts formed a group that worked on developing the first version of Safety Requirements for Industrial Scissors Lifts. This became known as the ANSI MH29.1 standard. Advance Lifts has continued to be active in the development of the subsequent revisions to the standard and, in 2015, the International Code Council (ICC) incorporated ANSI MH29.1 as a reference standard in section 3001.2 in chapter 30 of the International Building Code (IBC). All of the Advance Lifts scissors lifts products are designed, tested and manufactured to comply with ANSI MH29.1. Consequently, when we ship a product to a customer, we are confident that we are providing them with reliable, durable and safe products. ANSI MH29.1 is a very important part of our company’s business philosophy.” Advance Lifts, Inc., 800-843-3625,

Scissors lifts are mobile supported scaffold work platforms used to safely move workers vertically and to different locations in a variety of industries including construction, retail, entertainment and manufacturing. Scissors lifts are different from aerial lifts because the lifting mechanism moves the work platform straight up and down using crossed beams functioning in a scissor-like fashion. Although scissors lifts present hazards similar to scaffolding when extended and stationary, using scissors lifts safely depends on considering equipment capabilities, limitations and safe practices.

About the Standard

This standard applies to industrial scissors lifts that are raised and lowered by means of hydraulic, pneumatic or mechanical actuation. These industrial scissors lifts are intended for commercial applications on firm and level surfaces and may be either stationary or mobile and used to position, feed, transfer, load or unload materials or personnel. Some of these combinations are not covered by this standard. Industrial scissors lifts are available in a range of capacities, sizes, and travels and include dock lifts, work access lifts and lift tables which are categorized by function.

The standard includes the responsibilities of manufacturers, owners/users and operators and covers basic principles, inspection and maintenance details, what training should include, workplace inspections and operator warnings and instructions, among other items.

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History of the Standard

ANSI MH29.1 was developed to provide a comprehensive safety standard and establish a minimum design and performance criteria to ensure the safe application and utilization of industrial scissors lifts. It is intended to serve as a guide for designers, manufacturers, sellers, installers, equipment specifiers, owners, users and governing bodies of industrial scissors lifts. The previous version of the standard, MH29.1:2012, was released by Lift Manufacturers Product Section (LMPS) Industry Group[1] of the MHI.

It made changes and additions to definitions contained in the standard intended to address confusion and overlap in the earlier version and provide further delineation between industrial scissors lifts and aerial type lifts. The responsibilities of manufacturers, users, owners and operators were reordered, consolidated and enhanced and the requirements within the standard were revised where needed to ensure they are stated using mandatory language. The 2012 revision contained a new section on operator responsibilities and modifies values related to the indicator bars in the section on platform protection.

The Objectives of the Current Version

The objectives of the current version of ANSI MH29.1-2020[2] are:

  • Prevention of personal injuries and accidents
  • Criteria for design, manufacture, performance, and operation
  • Understanding of respective responsibilities among designers, manufacturers, owners/users and operators

The current version also mentions safety precautions. Prior to adjusting or repairing a scissor lift:

  • The load should be removed from the platform and the platform lowered to the full down position.
  • All controls must be in the “off” position.
  • A blocking or maintenance device can be used to prevent unintended movement.
  • Likewise, brakes, blocks, etc., should be used on all operating features.

Safe Use of Scissors Lifts

In addition to using scissors lifts that meet the requirements in ANSI MH29.1-2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration[3] (OSHA) requires employers who use scissors lifts to evaluate and implement effective controls that address fall protection, stabilization and positioning.

According to OSHA, only trained workers should be allowed to use scissors lifts, and employers should make sure that those workers show that they can use a scissors lift properly. Safe scissors lift use includes properly maintaining the equipment, following the manufacturer’s instructions, providing workers training and needed personal protective equipment (PPE), and implementing safe work practices.

Safe Work Practices

Safe work practices must be followed to prevent tip over or fall over incidents, and other hazards by:

  • Assessing the worksite to identify potential hazards, such as proximity to power lines and traffic. If the scissors lift is to be used outdoors, environmental conditions must be taken into account as well.
  • Positioning the scissors lifts on level, firm surfaces that are not near holes, drop-offs or sloping ground.
  • Not moving a scissors lift when it is in an elevated position.
  • Using traffic control measures when necessary to protect the scissors lift from being struck by a moving vehicle.
  • Making sure that the scissors lift is at least ten feet away from an electrical power source.
  • Avoiding overhead hazards like branches, etc.
  • Training employees on the hazards, and safe use of scissors lifts.

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