The new OSHA hazard alert stems from the Oct. 27, 2010, death of a University of Notre Dame student employee who was filming a football practice from a scissor lift that toppled in high winds.

OSHA Issues Alert on Lifts Used for Filming Events

The hazard alert issued July 6 stems from the Oct. 27, 2010, death of Declan Sullivan, a University of Notre Dame student employee who died while filming a football practice from a scissors lift that toppled in high winds.

OSHA) issued a new hazard alert warning against using scissor lifts to film events and functions. The alert stems from the well-publicized Oct. 27, 2010, death of Declan Sullivan, 20, a student employee of the University of Notre Dame. He was filming a football practice from an elevated scissor lift when it toppled in high winds.

The Indiana Department of Labor issued a knowing citation to the university on March 15, 2011, with Labor Commissioner Lori Torres saying, "The evidence overwhelmingly demonstrated that the university made the decision to utilize its scissor lifts in known adverse weather conditions." the citation included total proposed penalties of $77,500. The department also sent a letter to associations statewide urging high schools, colleges, and universities to review their use of scissor lifts during athletic and band events.

OSHA's alert lists the hazards associated with the use of scissor lifts, which are mobile, hydraulically powered lifts. They are frequently used by colleges and high schools to film athletic and band activities, according to the agency.

The listed hazards include using them during high winds or bad weather; overloading the equipment with heavy objects; removing the guardrails during operation; and driving them on uneven or unstable ground. "Employers can minimize scissor lift hazards by establishing safe work practices, including inspecting the lift before use; safely moving, positioning, and stabilizing the lift; selecting safe work locations; and identifying weather conditions that prevent use," the agency said. "Additional key safety practices include putting the scissor lift on a firm level surface, setting brakes and stabilizing the lift before raising it, and maintaining a 10 foot clearance from electrical power sources and overhead hazards such as tree branches. Hazards can be further reduced by training workers on how to operate scissor lifts safely, making sure that the scissor lift has a guardrail system for fall protection, and operating and maintaining the lift according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

OSHA said its Scaffolding eTool and the Safety and Health Topics page on Scaffolding provide additional guidance on the hazards and on requirements for using scissor lifts.

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