Lifting & Supporting Vehicles: Not as Easy as it Looks!

Matthew White is the Director of Tire Service and Senior Trainer, Tire Industry Association (TIA). (Photo: TIA)

Safely lifting and supporting equipment is a matter of life and death.

One of the most dangerous aspects of the tire business is the lifting of the equipment being serviced. In fact, more than half of all injuries and fatalities in the tire industry take place during the lifting process.

Before performing any task, the piece of equipment you’re working on should be locked out, tagged out and chalked out, so it is impossible for it to be operated.

Site preparation

Although often overlooked and taken for granted, site preparation is critical. This is where all the important decisions are made that affect the entire task.

Many factors should be looked at before the vehicles is even set up and the jacks hit the ground. Are you in a high traffic area? Is the ground stable and level enough for a jack? How heavy is the piece of equipment and do you have the proper jack for the given weight? And once the piece of equipment is lifted, do you have enough cribbing, or the proper jack stands, to safely support the weight of the equipment?

Never work on a piece of equipment that is supported by hydraulics alone! Lifts and jacks are for lifting, while cribbing and jack stands are for supporting! And if at any time the site is deemed to be unsafe, insist that the equipment be moved to a different location.

Set up
If you are working on a piece of equipment that articulates, such as a loader, rock truck or large farm tractor, an anti slew device MUST be installed before lifting. This is a safety device that prevents equipment from collapsing on you if the hydraulics fail.

If the devise is not present, it should be located and installed before the wheel service is performed. Now it’s time to lift!

Take a look under the equipment to see where there is a proper lifting point. This can sometimes be very difficult, because different manufacturers will place lifting points in different areas. If you’re not sure, consult with the manufacturer. If you can’t, that’s when your experience kicks in.

Never lift a piece of equipment loaded. Always insist it be unloaded before you lift it. Weight can shift, causing the equipment to slide off the jack or stands, and in some rare cases, even tip over!

The right jack

Using a suitable jack for the job, lift the equipment carefully while watching for any shifting. Lift to the proper height. What’s proper? When lowered onto jacks stands or cribbing, the tire and rim assembly should remain off of the ground.

When lifting on unstable ground or pavement, where the jack or cribbing could sink into the ground, always use a jacking plate to spread the weight. Lower equipment so the full weight of the load is on jack stands or cribbing, and never support with just the jack alone. Once the service has been performed, lower the equipment in the reverse order, and return to service.

More than meets the eye

There is more to lifting then meets the eye! But make no mistake, whether lifting a small vehicle or a large truck, all procedures must be followed to ensure a safe day in the field. The main goal is for everyone to go home to your loved ones at the end of the day, safe and sound.

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