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The hazards of working with scissor lifts

In early February, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a new version of a hazard warning detailing the dangers of scissor lifts, a type of equipment that is used in many Minnesota workplaces. The alert originally saw publication after an untrained student employee at the University of Notre Dame died while he was filming from a scissor lift in 2010. The document was updated to include recommendations based on OSHA's year-long investigation of 10 deaths and no less than 20 injuries related to lift devices.

The Notre Dame fatality that prompted the first version of the OSHA warning occurred as the worker was elevated just under 40 feet in the air. High winds toppled his perch, and the fall killed him. OSHA fined the institution more than $77,000, and it says that the incidents it investigated in the lead up to the new update were also avoidable.

The latest alert made numerous suggestions, including that all workers who use lifts should have appropriate training and that lifts should be kept a minimum of 10 feet away from live electrical components. Employers were also warned against using lifts outdoors in bad weather and told to maintain their equipment in accordance with manufacturer specifications. Finally, the hazard recommended the installation of guardrails on scissor lift platforms.

Workplace injuries can cripple employees who were just trying to do their jobs, and such outcomes may make it impossible for victims to continue their employment. Those who have been injured on the job may want to meet with an attorney in order to determine if they are eligible to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits.

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