OSHA has issued a hazard alert about the dangers of using scissor lifts to film events and functions. Scissor lifts are portable, hydraulic-powered lifts that are commonly used by colleges and high schools to film athletic and band activities. 

Last October, a 20-year-old University of Notre Dame student employee was killed while filming the team's football practice from a scissor lift that was blown over by high winds. Declan Sullivan, who reportedly was not trained to properly operate the equipment, raised the lift more than 39 feet into the air on a day in which winds exceeded 50 miles per hour. Notre Dame conducted an investigation and ultimately cleared its staff of any wrong doing (www.ishn.com article 4/20/11).

The alert lists hazards associated with scissor lifts such as using the equipment during high winds or bad weather; overloading the equipment with heavy objects; removing the guardrails during operation; and driving the lift 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. 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's Safety and Health Topics page on Scaffolding provide additional guidance on the hazards and requirements for using scissor lifts.