CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. — A visit of dealership service departments left fixed-ops specialist Ed Gibbons with one conclusion: 25% of service lifts are out of compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s vehicle lift maintenance and inspection standards.
Most common mechanical failures are loose nuts on floor anchor bolts and broken or missing pins on two-part extension arms, either of which put workers’ safety at risk, Gibbons said. These are not complicated or costly repairs to perform, he added, but often go unnoticed. OSHA’s required annual inspect for vehicle lifts are designed to catch and correct such maintenance.
“I recently inspected lifts at a large dealership, and I failed 60% of them,” he said.
Frustrating and costly OSHA inspections are often triggered by ex-employees who act out against the dealer, Gibbons said. “Lift maintenance and inspection compliance is a primary target for OSHA when they receive a complaint from a dealership employee,” Gibbons says.
Most dealers make sure these inspections are performed as required. However, many remain at risk for failing to have the proper lift maintenance documentation.
“That paperwork is the first thing OSHA will ask to review if there’s a complaint or injury, even if the injury that brought them there isn’t related to the lifts,” Gibbons says.
Lifts are to be inspected according to their manufacturers’ standards. Manufacturers require this inspection be performed on each lift annually. OSHA paperwork includes inspection sheets and logs and certificates and stickers on the lifts stating the lift is ready for use or that it is locked out until the problem is fixed.
“Unfortunately, disgruntled former employees know to contact OSHA about a real or perceived safety violation at the dealership they’d left, and they know OSHA goes after those complaints with zeal,” Gibbons says.
And lift fines can be substantial.
Gibbons, with completed lift inspection and maintenance schooling to better understand and evaluate lift maintenance issues, noted that OSHA is specific about who can inspect lifts — a qualified inspector, which means your maintenance man is not qualified unless trained.
“The essential component is to have a qualified inspector, and the compliance documentation they provide,” he says.
For example, a dealer Gibbons consulted shared that his lift manufacturer’s maintenance person had inspected the lifts and scribbled “Inspected Lifts” and the day’s date on the work receipt. That was not acceptable to OSHA, The dealer was fined. Gibbons cautions.
Automotive Compliance Consultants provides its clients’ documentation as downloads to the dealer’s CompliantNow dashboard; for non-clients, Gibbons provides a hard copy — a copy of which he retains at his office.
To maintain worker safety, workflow through the service department, and prevent worker injury, dealers should:
- Review lift maintenance documents
- Conduct your own inspection by the tech using the lift daily.
- Inspect hydraulic systems, valves, hoses, cables, chains, pins, spindles, the electrical system, ramps, runway stops, locks and safety features.
- Provide lift operators with refresher maintenance and safety training. People who operate lifts must be trained on the lift they use. Keep records of all training, too.