electric scissor lift stowed
13 Mar 2020

What Are Scissor Lifts Used For?

Are you new to manufacturing, logistics, warehousing, construction and related industries? If so, you may not be familiar with a highly useful equipment known as the scissor lift. To help you understand what it is, its uses and the different types, we have created this 101 guide to scissor lifts.

What is a Scissor Lift?

A scissor lift is a motorized vehicle with a steady enclosed railed platform that can be elongated. Its “scissor” description stems from the crisscrossing metal support structure that exists under the platform. When raised up, the metal structure resembles that of scissor with its blades crossing over at a joint.

A Type of Construction Lift

The scissor lift is commonly categorized with boom lifts under the label of construction lifts. With the ability to elevate, both boom lifts and scissor lifts enable users to reach elevated work areas. Common work tasks that require the use of construction lifts include cable works, building exterior painting and warehouse inventory management.

The Scissor Lift is Different

The scissor lift distinguishes itself from other lift platforms with its ability to raise loads. By unfolding its arms, scissor lifts grant access to difficult to reach areas such as the top of storage racks. It boasts a relatively larger platform, allowing multiple workers to perform their tasks on it at once.

Another important feature of scissor lifts is the stability offered to the user. Compared to its counterparts, the scissor lift offers more stability since its center of gravity is held more or less constant. This affords workers a peace of mind when working at heights using the scissor lift.

One drawback of the scissor lift compared to a boom lift is that it does not elevate to as high heights. This means that workers on certain jobs will have to forsake the stability and space afforded by the scissor lift in favour of the superior height offered by boom lifts.

Types of Scissor Lift

Several different types of Scissor lift exist, varying in terms of size, application and fuel type. Here are 5 types of scissor lifts that are most commonly found in workplaces.

scissor lift course in singapore

Hydraulic Scissor Lift

All hydraulic systems function through the same basic concept, that is using pressurized fluid to generate power to operate a machine. Based on Pascal’s law, hydraulics work as a pressure change in any confined in-compressible fluid is transmitted throughout the same fluid.

Specifically for the hydraulic scissor lift, a change in pressure of the hydraulic oil helps to lift or lower the platform. To change the pressure of the hydraulic oil, either hand operated or engine driven systems are used.

Either way, It is a relatively simple operation, thus making the hydraulic scissor lift the go to option for projects that do not require major speed or horsepower.


scissor lift training outdoors

Diesel scissor lifts are typically favored at construction sites. This is because they boast more power than other models and thus can afford higher heights and larger aerial platforms.

However, the drawbacks of diesel systems is that they are noisy and emit fumes into the environment. In order to mitigate these factors, they are best reserved for outdoor construction sites with sufficient ventilation and noise dissipation. Furthermore, they often boast a larger base, making them unsuitable for indoor environments with narrow alleys.


On the opposite end of the spectrum from diesel systems, electric scissor lifts feature a silent powered drive mechanism. With no burning fuel, electric systems do not emit any fumes and operate with minimal noise. Thus, they are the preferred option for indoor spaces with limited ventilation and noise control.

Moreover, electric scissor lifts often boast a more compact design. This makes them suitable for usage in narrow warehouses or when maneuvering around tight spaces.

Rough Terrain

A more durable and high performing version of the diesel scissor lift is the rough terrain scissor lift. Designed exclusively for outdoor terrain, they come equipped with the highest weight capacities, heavy duty tires and exclusive safety mechanisms – fall restraints and arrestors.

Operators utilize rough terrain scissor lifts for work sites with uneven surfaces and slopes. They are also suitable for usage during inclement weather.


Pneumatic systems use air pressure as opposed to diesel or electricity as their primary lifting mechanism. By vacuuming and compressing atmospheric air, pneumatic systems generate power for their lifting mechanisms not unlike the concept of hydraulics.

For companies looking to minimize their carbon footprint, pneumatic scissor lifts are an excellent option as they do not emit hazardous fumes or by-products.

Choosing The Right Type of Scissor Lifts For Your Work

When choosing the right type and model of scissor, it is important to match height, dimensions, efficiency and safety to the task at hand. Here are 10 questions that you can ask yourself before selecting a scissor lift:

  • Will the scissor lift be operated indoors or outdoors?
  • Is the area enclosed and is there is sufficient ventilation in the area?
  • Any rough or special terrain that the vehicle needs to be operating on?
  • What heights do you need to use the scissor lift to reach?
  • Any inclement weather expected during the task?
  • How often do you intend to use the lift?
  • What range of weight do you foresee carrying on the scissor lift?
  • Are there any obstructions such as low beams?
  • Is the main objective to reach a height or to carry a load?

Industry Applications & Uses Of The Scissor Lift

A number of different jobs and tasks utilize the scissor lift to improve the efficiency and safety of work.

Building Maintenance

Many aspects of your building’s maintenance requires working at heights such as hanging banners, changing signs, accessing utilities and changing hall lights. Typically, electrical scissor lifts are favoured in this situation as they afford a quiet operation while not exposing people to fumes.


scissor lift at construction site

Scissor lifts are widely used in construction to help workers operate at heights. This could include works on the foundation of the building, doing tasks on high raised beams or even painting works once the building’s structure has been completed.

Warehousing & Related Applications

Warehouses use scissor lifts to allow operators to reach materials stored at height. Be it the housing of paints, apparel or even vertical indoor gardens, all warehouses benefit from the efficiency of utilizing a scissor lift.

Media Production

Have you ever seen a news anchor presenting from height above a scene? If so, chances are that he or she was using a scissor lift to safely perform the job while granting the audience a good view of the surrounding scene.

Sign Up for the WSQ Operate Scissor Lift Course At THT Academy

The THT Academy (formerly known as Tat Hong Training Services Pte Ltd) offers the WSQ Operate Scissor Lift course. Held over the duration 1 days, with 8 lesson hours, the course ends with a 1 hour assessment. By the end of the scissor lift training, participants would be completely trained with the knowledge and application skills in carrying out scissor lift operations.

THT Academy Pte Ltd has provided heavy machinery operation training to businesses since 1999. We strongly support lifelong learning and re-training of individuals to help them enhance their employability.

Get your scissor lift course certification with THT Academy. Learners will be eligible to clock hours for the BCA Multi-Skilling Scheme. To find out more about Multi-Skilling: https://tathongtrainingcentre.com/what-is-the-singapore-bca-multi-skilling-scheme/

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