An auto repair garage is one of the most dangerous places a person can go. One misplaced tool or simple mistake, and the consequences could be absolutely tragic. That’s why, in most cases, garages are subject to stringent safety rules and anyone who enters the garage must have proper training and, when appropriate, safety equipment.
One type of tool that requires training before use is the auto lift. Auto lifts are the devices that raise vehicles above a technicians head, allowing easy access to the underside of the car. While the design and operation of one of these tools may seem simple, their dangerous nature requires proper technique to ensure the safety of both the operator and everyone in the garage.
In fact, many commercial garages will only purchase auto lifts that are certified by the Automotive Lift Institute. When you install a certified lift, it’s a sign to customers and employees that you take safety seriously and want to ensure your auto lifts are used properly.
Automotive Lift Institute Certification
When someone wants to open a restaurant, they can’t simply open their kitchen and start serving food. There is a complex series of rules and regulations to follow that ensure that the food and food preparation areas are as clean as possible and run properly to ensure the safety of those preparing the food, as well as, those who will eat it.
ALI lift certification serves a similar purpose. The organization uses government standards to evaluate and determine the safety of automotive lift machines. These standards look at the lift’s design, construction, installation, maintenance and operating procedures to ensure everything is done properly and with safety in mind. The certification not only gives you peace of mind that the lift your considering for your shop is as safe as can be for those working on the cars, it’s also safe for the cars themselves. Imagine the costs associated with a vehicle that falls off the lift; not only are injuries likely, but such an event can irreparably damage a vehicle.
Getting an ALI certification for a vehicle lift is not a simple process, however. A lift manufacturer cannot simply call and request a certification, or apply for the designation.
To be declared a certified lift, the machine must undergo a thorough inspection by a qualified professional from ALI. To even be considered, the lift model must be listed by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL); this listing indicates that the lift was manufactured by a recognized company in strict accordance with established design and construction protocols.
Qualifying lifts are then inspected by an ALI representative. The inspection is thorough, and the inspector will test the operation of the lift using established governmental standards. Every nut, bolt, screw and button is inspected and tested, and any deficiencies must be corrected before the lift is certified. The shop must also have easily accessible and up-to-date manuals and instructions, as well as operator safety guidelines, on hand in order to pass inspection.
The process does not end with a successful inspection, though. ALI certification is an ongoing process, and a lift can lose its designation if the manufacturer does not properly continue a commitment to quality and safety in the design and manufacture of their product. After a lift earns the credential, ALI representatives perform regular audits and inspections to ensure that roper quality control procedures are followed within individual shops and that the lift continues to be well-maintained and safely operated.
While it’s important to purchase an ALI certified lift for your shop, there are some similar designations that are often confused for ALI certification. Avoid lifts that are listed as Certification Pending, as the ALI does not allow for any such designation; lifts designated as CE are also not truly certified by American standards, as the designation is European and the electrical standards are not the same. When buying lifts, read the documentation carefully and know exactly what you are buying, keeping in mind that a used lift may have been repaired with non-original manufacturer’s parts, thereby negating the certification.
Choosing a certified lift for your shop is a good choice for the safety of your employees and customers, and protects against serious damages or injuries. Before you buy a lift, do some research to ensure the model you’re considering is certified, and enjoy the peace of mind that the designation offers.