When Low-Level is the Right Level
Using an oversized lift on indoor worksites is sometimes like attacking a mosquito with a baseball bat. It’s impractical, unsafe, and might do more damage than good. Low-level scissor lifts, however, are designed for indoor projects, such as electrical installation or drywall hanging. These compact lifts increase operator productivity and cut project timelines in half because they're easier to maneuver, can lift more, and get workers to the right heights without crush hazards. Consider these factors to see if low-level access lifts are right for your next jobsite.
Less is more when it comes to interior working heights. Contractors might think they need a lift with working heights taller than 25 ft when they may be able to reach all projects with a low-level access platform that has a 20 ft working height. Using an oversized scissor lift for interior work, such as electrical installation, is dangerous. Crush hazards are a constant presence when workers use oversized lifts indoors because the platform height equals or exceeds the ceiling height. An installer using a 19 ft lift inside a 20 ft tall room may get distracted as the platform is nearing the ceiling, creating a potential crush hazard. A low-level scissor lift has a roughly 14 ft tall platform height, which allows the installer to achieve a 20 ft reach with virtually no crush hazard. Now that's working smart.
Having a scissor lift that offers plenty of working space yet is small enough to maneuver through cramped worksites is just as important as reaching the correct working height. Low-level access lifts have step-in heights around 20 in, making it easier for operators to load tools and materials onto the platform. Low step-in heights also eliminate fatigue caused by repeatedly climbing ladders, reduce the chance of serious falls, and minimize repetitive strains that can turn into workers’ compensation issues. Due to their compact size, low-level scissor lifts can even pass through standard doorways, navigate tight hallways, and fit in personnel elevators.
Having low-level scissor lifts that can safely elevate workers, their tools, and building materials is key to maximizing productivity. Materials alone can be heavy; a single sheet of drywall weighs upwards of 80 lbs. This weight adds up quickly and can be a deciding factor when choosing a lift. Low-level access lifts are designed to handle more weight due to their lower working heights. Some 10 ft scissor lifts, like the PS-1030, have 800 lb lifting capacities supported by rigid scissor stacks and oversized pins for reduced platform sway.
Low-level access lifts may be compact, but they don't lack in platform space. The majority of these scissor lifts have slide out extension decks that give operators up to an extra 30 in of additional working space. Having these extension decks allows operators to work over obstacles and access areas that may not be reachable from the main lift platform. They also enable operators to work at height longer without having to reposition the lift.
Rental stores should be aware of how extension decks are attached to the platform to avoid extra maintenance. Some extension decks are attached to the platform’s floor and use wheels in tracks that can collect debris and become jammed. Not only does this create downtime to clear the obstruction, but a malfunctioning or stuck extension deck could pose a serious safety threat. Hy-Brid Lifts connects EZ-Glide slide out extension decks to the platform midrails, which virtually eliminates the chance of debris jamming an extended platform and increases operator safety.
Hy-Brid Lifts EZ-Glide slide out extension deck.
Low-level scissor lifts are designed to have minimal or no impact on worksites, including features like dual front wheels, counter-rotating wheels, and self-contained hydraulic systems. Having dual front wheels spreads the lift’s weight more evenly to reduce pressure on sensitive surfaces, including tile and stone floors. A 1,200 lb lift with dual front wheels might have wheel loads as low as 62.7 psi, which enables operators to maneuver the scissor lift over tile, laminate, raised floors, and mezzanines with minimal risk of damage. The weight distribution also means operators can get onto poured concrete several days sooner than with heavier lifts. Counter-rotating wheels minimize the risk of damaging delicate floors, such as carpet and linoleum. Non-rotating wheels twist and bunch up flooring when turning the scissor lift, causing tears and deformations. These wheels allow one side of the wheel to move forward, while the other moves back, which prevents bunching or twisting. Electric scissor lifts with hydraulic fluid containment systems, like Hy-Brid Lifts Pro Series, prevent hydraulic oil spills if a leak were to occur, avoiding costly damage to carpeted, hardwood, or tiled floors. They also offer reduced or even zero emissions for jobsites with environmental restrictions.
Knowing what features best fit a project’s needs will increase productivity and minimize costly downtime on a wide range of applications. From hanging slabs of sheetrock to twisting in the final light bulb, the best low-level lift safeguards the operator, the project, and the production schedule from beginning to end.