OHS Canada Magazine

Managing the risks of two-post automotive lifts: WorkSafeBC bulletin

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May 14, 2024
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety

(navee/Adobe Stock)

WorkSafeBC has issued a bulletin about managing the risks of two-post automotive lifts.

“Two-post automotive lifts must be assembled, installed, maintained, and used correctly,” it states. “Otherwise, they can fail during use, and workers can be seriously injured by falling vehicles.”

Causes of failure

Two-post automotive lifts can fail for many reasons, including the following:

  • The concrete floor is too thin or lacks reinforcing steel.
  • The anchor bolts that secure the posts to the concrete floor do not meet the manufacturer’s specifications or are improperly installed.
  • One or more swing arms move out from under the vehicle due to:
    • Freeplay (side-to-side movement) at the outer ends of the swing arms.
    • Lifting points that are close to the edge of the vehicle.
    • Forces applied to the vehicle during repair or maintenance work.
    • Pivot restraints on the swing arms are damaged or contain substandard parts, rendering the pivot restraints ineffective.
  • Contact pads at the ends of the swing arms are worn out or not correctly positioned under the vehicle’s designated lifting points.
  • The vehicle’s weight and cargo are unevenly distributed or change when elevated.
  • The lift’s cables are not maintained to keep the swing arms level.
  • The chain or cable running beneath a floor plate between the two posts corrodes and breaks.
  • Safety devices in the posts fail to activate.

How to manage the risks

Ensure that qualified persons assemble and install two-post automotive lifts. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, qualified means “being knowledgeable of the work, the hazards involved and the means to control the hazards, by reason of education, training, experience or a combination thereof.”

A qualified person must install a two-post automotive lift in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and ANSI standard ANSI/ALI ALCTV-1998, or as specified by a professional engineer. For guidance, see ANSI/ALI ALIS: 2022 Standard for Automotive Lifts – Safety Requirements for Installation and Service.


Allow only authorized workers to operate an automotive lift. Workers must not be authorized until they have been adequately instructed and trained and have demonstrated an ability to safely operate the lift.

Before each use of a two-post automotive lift, workers should briefly assess the risks to ensure the vehicle and the lift are compatible. Consider the following:

  • Is the weight of the vehicle within the lift’s rated capacity? Do not exceed this limit, which is marked on the lift.
  • Is the weight of the vehicle within the capacity of each swing arm? Refer to the lift’s manual.
  • Are the lifting points near the edge of the vehicle? If so, consider using a different type of lift.
  • Is the amount of freeplay at the ends of the swing arms enough to allow the swing arms to move out from under the vehicle? If so, consider using a different type of lift.
  • Do the lengths of the swing arms need to be adjusted to ensure the vehicle’s centre of gravity is properly positioned?
  • Are the contact pads at the ends of the swing arms clean, in good condition, and compatible with and correctly positioned under the vehicle’s lifting points?
  • Are the vehicle’s lifting points clean and in good condition?
  • Will the weight or distribution of the load change while on the lift? If so, consider using a different type of lift.

Inspect these lifts before using them. Look for the following unsafe conditions:

  • Cracked or loose concrete at the base of each post
  • Loose or missing bolts or corrosion
  • Deformed structural components
  • Damaged or ineffective swing-arm pivot restraints
  • Excessively worn contact pads at the outer end of each swing arm.

Download the PDF at https://www.worksafebc.com/en/resources/health-safety/bulletins/managing-risks-two-post-automotive-lifts?lang=en


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