Can I inspect my own car and truck lift?
Part 1: Assessing your qualifications and comfort level
It’s that time of year again… the time for annual safety inspections of your car and truck lifts. Hopefully, since undertaking this activity at this time last year, you’ve increased your commitment to and knowledge about the value of safety in the workplace, not only with how work is conducted, but also with a clear message that conveys appropriate time and effort must be dedicated to ensuring your equipment is in excellent working condition. Let’s take a few minutes to mentally check-off a few critical aspects of car and truck lift safety: Have you or your employer arranged training for your staff about safe lift operation? Do you and others operating the lifts at your facility understand the importance of remaining attentive to and reporting any of the conditions noted in section 188.8.131.52 of
(current edition) when preparing to operate and when operating any lift in your shop? Do you believe your lift safety program is robust? Can you confirm accessibility to operator manuals? Are planned maintenance and repair maintenance records in place and easy to locate for each lift? Have your company’s qualified lift operators successfully completed ALI’s Lifting It Right online lift safety course, and are their certificates on file?
Hopefully, you have done a good job of preparing, and at this point you believe that everything necessary to comply with a health and safety audit has been done. Turning back now to the fact that it’s time for the annual lift inspection, you can’t help but wonder:
“Can I inspect my own car or truck lift to fulfill this annual requirement?”
There are several critical points to consider if you or your employer are thinking of self-inspecting your car or truck lift rather than hiring a professional. Presumably you are familiar with your equipment, have documented the training discussed above in each employee’s record, and you feel confident in your ability to operate the lift safely. You or your employer may even believe that you meet the minimum requirements of the safety standard that defines a qualified inspector.
With these points in mind, legally speaking, there’s nothing preventing you or your employer from attempting your own annual lift inspection. But while that means technically, yes, you can inspect your own car or truck lift, that’s not the whole story and it does not mean that you or your employer should make the decision to proceed – simply put, inspecting your own lift may not be the best choice for you, your coworkers, or your employer.
The very first place to start on this journey of considering self-inspection is to assess the lifts in your shop and your comfort level in performing a thorough inspection to all of the requirements in the national safety standard. Maybe you have an older lift and don’t know the exact model number or the manufacturer. Perhaps your older lift models are leaking fluid daily or the load holding devices (also known as locks) don’t engage or have been removed. We already know that auto shops and garages are full of hazardous substances and equipment. When training, planned and repair maintenance, and annual inspection by a certified lift inspector is overlooked, forgotten or involves short-cuts, your car or truck lift becomes one of those hazardous pieces of equipment that has the potential to be at the center of a catastrophic event resulting in damage to a shop’s reputation, injury to employees and bystanders, or even loss of life. Your safety and the safety of your colleagues and those moving daily through the service bay will be in your hands if you take on self-inspection. Putting this all into perspective is an important part of the process before you even get started.
Another key consideration for those seeking to self-inspect is determining if you or someone on your staff is competent and qualified to perform a thorough annual inspection. In the United States, OSHA has what’s known as the “general duty clause.” The general duty clause requires employers to provide “employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm” to employees. (In most Canadian provinces, the Ministry of Labour regulates annual lift inspections.) Employers can be citied for violation of the general duty clause if a recognized serious hazard exists in the workplace and reasonable steps to prevent or abate the hazard aren’t taken; that can include allowing inspections to be performed by an unqualified individual. In addition, there are specific national standards that regulate annual lift inspections. When the 2020 edition of the ANSI/ALI ALOIM standard became effective, demonstrating compliance in accordance with the entire standard became a requirement. This means persons conducting annual lift inspections must go beyond only inspecting in a manner that complies with certain sections of the standard – inspectors must now comply with all parts of the national safety standard. If you are not familiar with the level of detail now required to show OSH officials that your program meets these new requirements, a good place to start before making the decision to self-inspect is to obtain a copy of the current standard and become familiar with the requirements. It includes more than five pages of technical points focused solely on car and truck lift inspection points and relevant technical aspects of lift safety.
Not following national standards and provincial regulations comes with serious consequences. When it comes to auto lifts, if you or a designated staff member choose to self-inspect, the entire process could be reviewed and judged not only to determine compliance versus financial penalties, but the records including the qualifications and experience of the employee performing the inspection may be subject to litigation proceedings in instances where property damage, injury or a loss of life has occurred. Annual lift inspections are incredibly thorough operations – is there someone in your shop who can take that on, and whom you trust with that level of responsibility? Is it really YOU, or should a company known for annual lift inspection be called in to independently inspect and evaluate each lift?
Often service and repair shops tell customers to leave vehicle service and repair to the experts. So, if you’re:
- Feeling a little less optimistic about inspecting your own car lift;
- Doubtful that you or someone in your shop is qualified to perform an inspection;
- Unsure exactly what equipment you own or where the operator’s manual is; or
- Desiring to be confident that your annual inspection is as complete and thorough as possible, and tailored to your specific equipment.
Check out Part 2 to learn about training program options with ALI and find out how you can call an independently qualified inspection firm with ALI Certified Lift Inspectors on staff.