Renting Scissor Lifts: The Ultimate Guide

When your crew needs to reach elevated locations, a scissor lift can be an excellent choice. Since several types of scissor lifts are available, many companies choose to rent scissor lifts to give them the flexibility they need to handle various applications. Companies that know how to use scissor lifts effectively and are aware of the benefits of renting put themselves in a position to complete jobs in a more cost-efficient and productive manner.

As you consider renting a scissor lift, you may want to know more about what they are and the types of them you can choose from. Additionally, you may also want to learn how to use them effectively and the benefits of renting. Our ultimate guide to scissor lifts covers everything you need to know.

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What Is a Scissor Lift?

Scissor lifts are a type of aerial equipment used to elevate workers and materials to an appropriate working height. They're primarily utilized in facility maintenance and construction applications, and they're typically self-propelled, meaning they can be driven right to different areas on the work site. The machines get their name from their lifting mechanic design, which features crisscrossing metal supports and a platform on top.

Once the machine begins to raise staff or materials upward, these metal supports elongate. When the scissor lift descends, the metal supports fold. Scissor lifts can reach hard to reach locations and provide workers with a stable platform to do their work on. In construction, workers regularly use scissor lifts to assist with cable wiring and inspections. Construction teams also rely on them to lift heavy materials and various tools to elevated areas.


Types of Scissor Lifts

Different types of scissor lifts are used for various purposes in the construction industry. By knowing the differences between them, a construction company can ensure they have a scissor lift fitting their work site's requirements. The five primary types of scissor lifts are hydraulic, diesel, electric, rough terrain and pneumatic.

Learn more about the primary kinds of scissor lifts below:

1. Hydraulic Scissor Lifts

Hand-operated or engine-driven hydraulic systems power hydraulic scissor lifts. The machine's hydraulic oil changes pressure to raise and lower the platform. Since hydraulic scissor lifts are simple to operate, operators don't have to go through a great deal of training. As such, one of the benefits of these scissor lifts is that an operator can use one quickly.

When it gets cold, hydraulic scissor lifts can be slower to operate since lower temperatures make oil denser. Newer models have accounted for these slowdowns and corrected them, but older models may see some declines in speed and horsepower when operating in cold temperatures.

2. Diesel Scissor Lifts

Diesel scissor lifts are some of the most popular scissor lifts in the construction sector. They excel in outdoor work sites, where they can reach 20 to 50 feet in the air. This variety of heights makes them well-suited for different tasks. They also tend to have a heftier design, giving them more power and a larger platform for multiple workers to stand and work on.

Generally, these diesel scissor lifts are only suited for outdoor use. Since they run on diesel fuel, they release fumes into the air and make lots of noise, which could be potentially harmful or distracting to workers indoors. When they're used outdoors, the machines have enough ventilation for the fumes to dissipate without harming workers. Additionally, the outdoors helps to disperse the loud noises these machines generate.

3. Electric Scissor Lifts

Electric scissor lifts provide an alternative to diesel-powered lifts. These machines don't burn fuel, relying on a quiet, electric-powered drive mechanism. Due to their lack of emissions or noise, they're well-suited for indoor work areas that may not have enough ventilation to use a diesel lift safely.

Their electric power tends to make them less powerful than diesel-powered machines, and they usually don't reach as high. The smaller design of these scissor lifts comes with the advantage of fitting in smaller spaces a bulkier scissor lift wouldn't be able to get into.

4. Rough Terrain Scissor Lifts

Sometimes, work sites feature rough terrain that is difficult for standard scissor lifts to navigate safely. Rough terrain scissor lifts are designed for work sites that are too difficult for standard scissor lifts to navigate. These machines are built with heavy-duty tires and increased weight capacity. They also come with additional safety features, like fall restraints and arrestors, to keep workers safe in potentially dangerous environments.

Companies often use rough terrain scissor lifts on uneven surfaces and slopes to provide workers with a stable platform to work on. They're also designed to work in inclement weather, helping to keep workers secure while working at elevated locations in rain and wind. Rough terrain lifts can usually reach very high locations and are very wide. They're typically powered by liquid propane, gas, diesel or dual fuel.

5. Pneumatic Scissor Lifts

Pneumatic scissor lifts don't require fuel to operate. Instead, they use air pressure to power their lifting mechanism. Essentially, they work by vacuuming atmospheric air and then compressing it to provide the appropriate amount of power to lift the platform upwards. Since they use air to power them, they don't release any hazardous fumes into the air, making them appropriate for indoor use and companies wanting to lower their carbon footprint.

Like electric scissor lifts, they don't usually offer as much power as diesel lifts. They can be used in most environments since the air powering them makes them safe for indoor applications. Additionally, pneumatic scissor lifts can typically fit in tighter spaces.

What Are Scissor Lifts Used For?

Scissor lifts provide significant value to various industries, as they raise workers high into the air and give them a stable platform to stand on. Due to these abilities, scissor lifts are very popular among companies doing aerial work. Workers often require a safe, even surface to work on while in the air, and they rely on scissor lifts to provide it.

In addition to their ability to lift workers to elevated positions, scissor lifts are also used for jobs requiring aerial equipment with exceptional mobility. In sectors like construction, general logistics and infrastructure, the mobility of scissor lifts make them incredibly valuable. Companies can choose scissor lifts in various sizes and performance abilities to find one that meets their needs.

You can find scissor lifts used in warehouses to help with the retrieval of packages and as car elevators. They're also regularly utilized to help workers clean windows at elevated heights and in the film industry to get the perfect shot. In the construction industry, they help in various building stages, giving workers a safe space to stand while using power tools and doing other tasks. Construction companies also use scissor lifts to deliver materials to elevated work areas.

How to Use a Scissor Lift

Scissor lifts are usually easy to operate, making it easy to train staff members to use them effectively and safely. Properly using a scissor lift involves three main stages: the pre-start inspection, start-up procedures and shutdown procedures.

Learn more about how to use a scissor lift below:

Pre-Start Inspection Steps

Before using a scissor lift, it's best practice to conduct a pre-start inspection. This inspection ensures the scissor lift is in a safe environment for use. You'll also use the inspection to check if the scissor lift is in a condition for safe operation. Some of the primary steps for an inspection include:

  • Look for obstacles: Before operating a scissor lift and moving it into position for a lift, you should look around the work site for potential hazards that could damage the scissor lift or cause it to get stuck. Some of the obstacles an operator looks for are debris, soft fill, ditches, holes and drop-offs.
  • Check for overhead hazards: Overhead hazards can prevent a scissor lift from reaching the height it needs. Power lines and other such hazards can electrocute or otherwise injure those on the platform. As such, you should check for these overhead hazards in their inspection, adjusting the scissor lift's positioning based on the location of hazards.
  • Ensure the battery is charged: If you're using an electric scissor lift, you need to ensure the battery has the charge to get you into the air and then back down. Before operating the machinery, check to see if the batteries are fully charged before utilizing the scissor lift. If the battery-charging system is connected to an external power source, you'll also disconnect it before use.
  • Inspect controls and components: Finally, look at the scissor lift's controls to ensure they're functioning properly. Additionally, you'll review various scissor lift components, checking for damages that could reduce the scissor lift's effectiveness and safety.

Procedures for Start-Up and Operations

After completing the pre-start inspection, move on to using the scissor lift for whatever tasks you need it for. Be sure any staff member who has the responsibility of driving and operating a scissor lift should be trained on how to use it properly.

Learn more about the appropriate operating procedures below:

  1. Begin operation by pulling out the emergency stop button from the control panel. As long as this button is inserted, the scissor lift won't start.
  2. Next, find the key switch that says off/platform/base. Push "platform" on this switch.
  3. Once you've selected the platform switch, you can enter the lift's platform.
  4. After you're on the platform, you can now pull out another emergency stop button on the platform control panel. Like the other emergency stop button, it prevents key processes on the scissor lift from working until it's been pulled out.
  5. With the emergency button pulled out, you can now use the operator console's controller and levers to guide the scissor lift.
  6. While driving the scissor lift from location to location, it's important to note the lift can be left in high range, meaning the platform is still raised, or low range, meaning the platform is lowered. If the operator is driving the scissor lift through an open area, it's usually safe to keep the platform in its high range. When the scissor lift is operating in tighter areas or places with overhead obstructions, it's best to keep it at its low range.
  7. If you use a scissor lift for painting jobs, it's a good idea to cover up the handrails, controls and platform. Coverings help prevent paint from splashing or spraying onto the scissor lift.

Procedures for Shut Down

After you're done using a scissor lift, follow a few practices to ensure it's shut down properly. By turning off the scissor lift correctly, a company readies their machinery for the next day, protects it from damages and ensures it's not left on by accident. Some proper shut down procedures include:

  1. Before you shut down the scissor lift, ensure the platform is fully lowered, returned to its original position. Turning it off at a higher position can make it difficult for other operators to access it and possibly damage the scissor lift.
  2. Once the platform is fully lowered, you'll then want to push the emergency stop buttons back down. These buttons are typically located on the base control and the operator console.
  3. Next, switch the base key to the off position.
  4. After the scissor lift is completely shut down, your crew can then clear all of the materials, tools and debris off the platform.
  5. With the scissor lift off and the platform cleared, you can recharge an electric scissor lift by plugging it into its charger.

How to Operate a Scissor Lift Safely

As with any other type of heavy machinery, companies need to ensure operators and other staff are safe while using them. For instance, a pre-check inspection can help an operator catch potential dangers before using the scissor lift. You may want to be aware of various other scissor lifts safety practices to protect the machinery and workers.

Some of the primary scissor lift safety practices can be found below:

  • Check for firm, level surfaces: Workers need a steady platform to do their jobs properly and safely. A lift placed on a slope, debris, holes, bumps and drop-offs can become unstable, leading to potential injuries. Workers will often use potentially-dangerous power tools, so a stable surface is crucial to keeping workers safe.
  • Avoid electrical power sources: When workers are up high working, they could be exposed to electrical power sources, such as transformers and power lines. Keeping the scissor lift at least 10 feet away from power lines can protect your workers from electrical injuries and shocks. Other non-electrical hazards, such as overhangs and branches, should be avoided as well since they can get in the way of workers.
  • Don't operate in poor weather conditions: Injuries often result when workers use scissor lifts in dangerous weather conditions. Unsafe weather conditions include snow, rain, sleet and high winds. These conditions can cause workers to lose their balance, destabilize the scissor lift and make it difficult to complete tasks effectively.
  • Drive scissor lifts safely: Before driving the lift to a new location, make sure you understand the manufacturer's safety requirements. Some scissor lifts can be driven safely while the platform is still raised, while others will need it completely lowered. If you're in doubt, it's a good idea to keep the platform completely lowered before use.
  • Stabilize the lift and set brakes: Before raising the platform, ensure it's stabilized and the brakes are set. It's easy to forget the brakes once you've already raised the platform, so it's best to set the brakes before any work starts or they raise the platform.
  • Ensure the lift isn't overloaded: A scissor lift will come with a load capacity, which shouldn't be exceeded. This load capacity refers to how much weight the scissor lift can hold safely. Overloading the scissor lift can cause it to break, resulting in injuries for those on it and damages to any tools or materials it's holding. Always check with the manufacturer to see how much weight the lift can handle.
  • Stay safe while working on the platform: You and your workers should put your safety first while on the scissor lift's platform. Since you'll be high off the ground, falling off the lift could result in major injury. Some key guidelines are never to stand on the guardrails or remove them.
  • Train operators and workers before allowing use: Before anyone operates a scissor lift or gets on it to do work, make sure they are trained to use it safely. This training can prevent injuries and protect the machinery from misuse.

Benefits of Renting a Scissor Lift

Renting a scissor lift can be an excellent decision for your company. Some of the top advantages of renting include having more choices, the ability to have a scissor lift only when you need it, access to the most advanced technology and reduced maintenance costs.

Learn more about the benefits of renting a scissor lift below:

  • Variety of choices: Your needs change from job to job, and renting scissor lifts allows you to adjust to new conditions. For example, one job may need a diesel scissor lift, and the next may need an electric scissor lift. Since you're not locked into one type of scissor lift, you can quickly adjust to the needs of different jobs.
  • Rent only when you need them: Choosing to rent also means the rental company takes the scissor lift off your hands when you're done using it. Renting helps you keep costs lower, as you don't have to pay for storage while the machines aren't being used. Only having to pay for scissor lifts when you need them reduces waste and is very cost-efficient, especially when you don't need scissor lifts for the majority of your jobs.
  • Access to the latest technology: A major benefit to renting is that rental companies often have the most technologically advanced scissor lifts in their inventory. As a result, you can utilize these updated lifts at your work site. More advanced scissor lifts provide your crew with extra safety features and improved efficiency.
  • No maintenance costs: When you rent, you get the advantage of not having to worry about maintenance costs. The rental company handles the maintenance of rental equipment and takes care of any machine breakdowns on your work site. A good rental company will typically repair or replace broken-down equipment with no charges to you.

Choose The Cat® Rental Store for Your Scissor Lift Rental Needs

The Cat® Rental Store is ready to outfit your team with the right scissor lift for your needs. With over 1,300 locations around the world, there's likely a local branch near your work site. As you select from our wide variety of scissor lifts, you'll be happy to find that we offer competitive rates and flexible rental agreements. Once you rent the scissor lift, our service doesn't stop. Our team is ready to provide emergency maintenance and repair services at a moment's notice.

Browse our selection of rental scissor lifts. If you have any questions, find your local store to speak with a qualified representative.

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