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Know the Difference Between Scissor Lifts and Boom Lifts

Updated: May 25

Construction and maintenance projects often take place in difficult to reach places that are high off the ground.


Boom lifts and scissor lifts are both capable of reaching heights, however there are some differences between them that can determine which is more suitable for the job.


In order to determine the best lift for your application, ask yourself how high do I need to reach? are there any obstacles in the way? is the job inside or outside? etc.


What is a boom lift?

Boom lifts are hydraulically controlled aerial lifts that allow operators to be raised and moved horizontally and vertically to complete work indoors and outdoors. There are two main types of boom lifts:


Straight booms other wise known as telescopic boom lifts, offer the highest vertical reach of any access equipment due to a single hinged extendable arm that can be stretched over distance.

Knuckle booms with knuckle like connectors that connect multiple arms and provide reach ability.


What is a scissor lift?

Scissor lifts are elevated work platforms that lift personnel and equipment safely to height. Small scissor lifts can accommodate one to several persons, while large platforms can accommodate a maximum of 7 people.


Unlike boom lifts they have no telescopic or rotational ability. They can be self-propelled, trailer or truck mounted and have optional outriggers or stabilisers.


How high do I need to reach?

Scissor lifts are ideal for areas below 20 metres, while boom lifts are suitable for extremely high work areas. Boom lifts offer the maximum amount of vertical reach and two to three times the height of scissor lifts.


Are there any obstacles in the way?

Knuckle booms are ideal for worksites with obstructions such as scaffolding or building frame work, as they can be guided over, under and around obstacles for access to hard to reach areas.


How many people need to be lifted?

Scissor lifts with larger platforms are better suited to lifting multiple people at once, alongside tools and materials.


It is important to note that every boom and scissor lift has a manufacturer rated safe weight limit (SWL) and number of people that can safely occupy the platform or bucket. It is imperative that the SWL is not exceeded at any point to ensure operator safety, this includes the weight of workers as well as any tools and materials being used.


Is the job inside or outside?

Boom lifts are most commonly used for outdoor applications such as construction sites, while most scissor lifts are designed for indoor use inside factories and warehouses.


Rough terrain scissor lifts are an exception, as they can be used outdoors on construction sites and other areas.


Do I need a license to operate the lift?

Workers operating any form of EWP whether it is a boom or scissor lift need to undergo and complete basic training to obtain an EWPA Yellow Card.


Operators who intend to use boom lifts capable of extending over 11 metres require a High Risk Work License.


Remember that working at heights can be risky, so it is important to take the necessary precautions and stay safe.


For assistance in finding the best lift for your application, contact us on 133 224 or fill out a contact form and we will respond as soon as possible.

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