Although seemingly a rather small cog in the transportation industry wheel, lift gates play a very significant role in the critical loading and unloading goods stage. They are indispensable in making the transfer of cargo more easily and with less risk of accidents.
It is certainly much more efficient and safer to use a lift gate to load goods into a vehicle than leaving it to drivers or dock workers. Using manpower to lift and load cargo presents all kinds of risky scenarios — from impairing workers’ health (back and muscular pains, lacerations, wounds, etc.) to goods falling and breaking.
Yet, even when a liftgate is being used, if proper procedures are not followed, risky scenarios are still possible. Less likely, but still possible.
Here’s a list of “Dos” and “Don’ts” to observe when using a lift gate.
- Know the weight capacity of your lift gate — overloading can cause damage to it, or the gate can become stuck while on delivery
- Lower the platform before backing the vehicle into the dock, and stand to one side of the platform when lowering, not in front of it
- Load the platform as close to the vehicle as possible, and towards the middle of the platform; distribute the load centrally around the geometric center of the lifting area
- Properly store and secure the lift gate platform for transit (check your Owner’s Manual for specifics)
- Fold the folding ramps and latch the liftgate in place when in transit position
- Ride the lift gate with an unstable load (wheeled loads must be properly restrained so to avoid rolling)
- Allow any part of the load to hang over any of the edges of the lifting area
- Use the lift gate if it makes any unusual noise or vibration, raises or lowers unevenly, or fails to operate smoothly
- Use a lift gate if it shows any signs of structural damage (i.e. cracked welds, bent or distorted parts)
- Enter the area beneath a raised liftgate
- Perform any repairs on lift gates
The last item on the don’ts list is especially important. Lift gates require qualified technicians to conduct maintenance and repairs. Poking around a lift gate or sliding under a raised lift gate is dangerous. Best to leave any lift gate repairs to specialists — whether it’s platform, structural, hydraulic pump, or spring repair and overhaul; a solenoid or pin replacement; or even just a rust repair and paint, a full-service lift gate repair shop will do the job properly and safely.