Hazard Alert

Student Worker Killed While Filming Football Practice from a Scissor Lift

During the Fall 2010 college football season, a student who was also an employee of the University of Notre Dame was killed while filming the school’s football team practice from a scissor lift. A scissor lift is a portable, hydraulic-powered lift with a platform that can be raised into the air directly above the base. Reportedly, the worker, who had not been trained to properly operate the scissor lift, raised the lift over 39 feet into the air to film the practice. The wind gusts that day were more than 50 miles per hour. The high winds blew the lift over, killing the worker.


Organizations that have workers, including students who are employees, who use scissor lifts to film events and functions must address the hazards associated with this equipment. These hazards can include:

The lift falling over or a worker slipping off the platform if the lift is:

used during bad weather or high winds
positioned on soft or uneven ground, or on weak utility covers (e.g., underground sprinkler valve boxes)
overloaded with heavy objects
used with guardrails removed
driven over uneven, unstable ground, or surface in poor condition, with the lift in an elevated position, or
used with brakes that are not properly set

A worker being electrocuted if the lift makes contact with electrical lines.

How to Reduce Hazards

Establish and follow safe work practices that include, but are not limited to:

Inspecting controls and components before use
Selecting work locations with firm and level surfaces away from hazards that can cause the lift to be unstable (e.g., drop-offs or holes, slopes, bumps or ground obstructions, or debris)
Selecting work locations that are clear of electrical power sources (e.g., power lines, transformers) – by at least 10 feet – and other overhead hazards (e.g., other utilities, branches, overhangs, etc.)
Operating lifts only during weather conditions that are safe for use (e.g., not in high winds, rain, snow, sleet, etc.)
Moving the lift to/from a work location safely, with the lift lowered, unless following safe practices allowed by the manufacturer
Setting the breaks and stabilizing the lift before raising it
Ensuring that the lift is not overloaded
Working safely from the lift (e.g., do not remove guardrails or stand on them for extra height)
Reporting problems and malfunctions

Train workers on, and make sure workers follow, established safe work practices and manufacturers’ recommendations for operating scissor lifts safely
Allow only trained workers to use scissor lifts, and make sure those workers show they can use a scissor lift properly
Make sure that the scissor lift has a guardrail system that protects workers from falling, and
Test, inspect, and maintain scissor lifts according to the manufacturer’s recommendations


For more information, visit:  osha.gov