The HSE alert includes this photograph, which shows the failed lift on the right.

Vehicle Lift's Failure Prompts HSE Alert

A "catastrophic failure" of a 10-year-old short-bed vehicle lift used in a car repair shop causes HSE to recommend inspection of hundreds of lifts nationwide. Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident.

Britain's Health and Safety Executive issued a safety alert Feb. 26 following the "catastrophic failure" -- fortunately, with no one injured -- of a 10-year-old short-bed vehicle lift used in a car repair shop. Had an operator been working below that device, he or she might have been killed, the agency said.

The British company that distributed these lifts is no longer in business. They were made by Texo, an Italian company, which has changed its owner's manual to say the lift must be raised at least 150mm out of the ground before a vehicle's weight is placed on it; the rubber blocks supplied with the lift must be used, not wood blocks or other substitutes; and no other means to decrease the distance between the lift platform and the lifting point of the vehicle should be used.

Another photogrph from the HSE alert shows where the cracks occurred in the lifting arms of the scissor lift.The failed lift was labeled as Hofmann Genius PSC3 with a safe working load of 3 tonnes and had been maintained and subjected to thorough examinations and testing. Four identical lifts at the same shop were found to have similar cracks at the same place, as shown in the photograph at left, and HSE said it has received a report from another shop of similar cracks in a Hofmann PSC3 scissor lift.

The rubber lifting blocks provide a slot for the lifting point, which is between the vehicle's front and rear wheels, and the blocks reduce the height at which the lift commences raising the vehicle. "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)," the alert states. "Scissor lifts are less common than two-post or four-post lifts in [motor vehicle repair shops] but there are believed to be at least 1,000 short-bed scissor lifts in the United Kingdom in all types of MVR facilities." Hundreds of these are Texo-made short-bed lifts that should be checked for cracks in their lifting arms, it says.

"Texo believe that the failure may have been caused by the user inserting non-standard items such as wooden blocks. . . . 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," the alert states.

HSE said two organizations whose members perform vehicle lift inspections, the Safety Assessment Federation and the Independent National Inspection and Testing Association, have informed their members.

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