A question of safety

We speak to Dave Garratt of the GEA about lift safety and maintenance...

Published:  06 December, 2013

Are there many serious accidents from vehicle lifts collapsing?

No, they are unusual when you consider the number of lifts in use every day. We know there are 23,000 MOT stations, each averaging four tests a day - and that's before you consider all the non-MOT lifts there are. Near misses average about ten per year and fatalities are one or two. If you think of a workshop with an MOT bay, the chances are that the bay immediately next to it has a two-post lift. I'd say there must be at least 40,000 two-post lifts out there, possibly more. While collapses and fatalities are rare, on two-posts we do have a number of near misses reported. The trouble is that a lot of two-post lifts in use were designed in the days of the MkIII Escort - nowadays the weight of the vehicle has increased dramatically which means the lift is working almost to capacity. The problem comes when you don't spread the weight of the vehicle correctly. It is ever so easy to get the centre of gravity out of position - we get sent some horrible pictures of cars put on them the wrong way around! When you think of an asymmetric two-post lift you have got to put the car on the right way around so you can open the doors. I've seen horror stories where there has been some massive front wheel drive car put on the wrong way around. You'd only need to touch the bootlid and it would tip off the lift - quite frightening!

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