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Scissor Lift Heights and What They’re Used For

Scissor lifts come in many sizes. Larger sizes are typically used outdoors on construction and other rough terrain job sites. These models run on diesel or dual-fuel (gasoline and propane) engines. Small scissor lifts run on electricity and are better suited for indoor job sites. Early on, scissor lifts were used mainly in industrial settings. These days, they are commonly used in a wide variety of job sites. These include retail settings, parking garages, and other urban areas.

Working with Scissor Lifts

Scissor lifts are often used in place of ladders and scaffolding. In fact, for safety purposes, OSHA considers them to be a form of scaffolding. As a result, scissor lift workers don’t have to wear fall protection gear. Scissor lifts offer many advantages over ladders and scaffolding. They are easy to operate and move from one job site to another. They have the flexibility to handle many different types of job tasks. When finished with a job, they don’t take up much storage space.

Other types of aerial lifts can move vertically and horizontally while in the air. In contrast, scissor lifts can only move in one direction – straight up and down.  This means they have to be positioned directly under the work area for the job to be done. However, their stability and large platform make them ideally suited for use as a work platform.

Scissor lifts use crisscrossed folding supports to raise the work platform. Pressure is applied to the outside of the lowest set of supports. This elongates the crossing pattern and lifts the platform vertically. Most scissor lifts use hydraulic power to raise the platform. Others can use pneumatic or mechanical power. Lowering the platform can require power. Or it can be as simple as releasing the hydraulic or pneumatic pressure. This allows for a safe return of the platform to the ground without needing power.

Scissor Lift Height

Scissor lifts can extend as high up as 60 feet – about one-third the height of the tallest aerial lift.  Most working heights range from 20-40 feet. Scissor lifts have less reach power than boom lifts, but can hold more weight. Many scissor lifts have an unrestricted weight limit of 1,000 pounds. With others, restricted weight limits can go even higher. This makes them ideal for jobs that involve the movement of heavyweight. For example, carrying heavy building materials on a construction site or heavy equipment to perform repair or maintenance work.

The Range of Scissor Lift Heights

There are many different models of scissor lifts. Each is designed to reach a certain height and work on certain types of jobs.

– 19-foot scissor lift: These models are often narrow and ideal for fitting into tight spaces. They work well for accessing ceilings and ductwork inside buildings. The typical ceiling height is about 10 feet. But with a maximum reach height of 25 feet, these models can handle a wide variety of ceiling heights. If you could get a scissor lift up there, you could access the top of George Washington’s nose on Mount Rushmore!

– 26-foot scissor lift: This model is built with a wide platform to accommodate jobs that require equipment. It has a working height of about 32 feet, allowing it to reach the third story of a building. Common job applications include washing or repairing windows and other maintenance work.

– 32-foot scissor lift: Designed for taller jobs, this model can work at heights up to 38 feet. It is often used to access telephone and power cables that need repair or replacement.

– 45-foot scissor lift: This model is similar to the 32-foot scissor lift, but can go higher. It could lift workers to the top of the famous Hollywood sign if needed.

– 50-foot scissor lift: This lift can access the 5th story on a building or a tall tree – about as high as a scissor lift can go.


Small Scissor Lifts

Sometimes you need a small scissor lift for a small job. In those situations, companies often turn to “mini” scissor lifts. These models can vary in size, with some as small as four feet wide. The maximum height reach for mini scissor lifts is about 19 feet. These small lifts have a smaller work platform that makes them ideal for one-man jobs.

Small scissor lifts are safer than ladders. They are easier to set up and take down than scaffolding. And most run on electric power, so they don’t emit hazardous fumes like gas-powered models. Mini scissor lifts are often used to navigate tight aisles inside warehouses to access hard to reach areas. They also come in handy for routine maintenance and other light-duty tasks at lower heights.

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No matter what size scissor lift you may need, operators are required to have training and certification to prevent accidents. Even on a smaller scissor lift, hazards like unstable work surfaces exceeded weight capacities, and bad weather can cause major accidents. Be prepared to operate any size scissor lift in a safe and compliant manner with OSHA-approved scissor lift training today from

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