Lift Gate Safety

by Joanna Swanson

A lift gate is a platform and motor attached to the back of a truck that moves heavy cargo from the ground into the truck or from the truck to the ground. Commercial trucking companies use lift gates to assist in the loading and unloading of their trucks. They serve an important purpose but you need to use them with caution.

Identification

Lift gates are made mostly of metal and are composed of a platform, housing and track. They also include a battery cable and a control switch to raise and lower the platform. A lift gate uses a hydraulic power unit and cylinder in its operations.

Features

Common safety features of lift gates include a pressure compensated flow valve to control the descent of the platform and a close relief valve to prevent the platform from closing when loaded. Another safety feature is circuit breakers that cut power from the battery in case of a short circuit.

Considerations

Lift gates are powerful and only trained personnel should operate them. If the load is too heavy for the lift gate, the lift may fail and cause the load to fall. The truck may roll if it is not in park or securely braked while operating the lift gate, causing the load to tip over or fall. Riding a lift gate can be dangerous as well.

Damage and Injury Prevention

Operating a lift gate properly can prevent damage to the cargo and injury to the operator or others near the lift gate. To prevent failure of the lift gate, do not overload the platform and keep the load centered and in balance. Keep the area around the lift gate clear from objects and other people that may become caught in it. Do not ride the lift gate or drive a forklift onto the platform.

Warning

Using a lift gate for any other purpose than to load and unload cargo may cause injury or death. Never use a lift gate as a jack or to pull or push other objects. A lift gate is not intended to plow snow or to shear or break other objects. The platform should never be open while the vehicle is moving. The lift gate should be inspected daily to ensure that there is no hidden damage to the mechanics.

About the Author

Based in Laramie, Wyo., Joanna Swanson has been writing in her professional life since 2004. She currently writes for various websites and enjoys reading a wide variety of books. Swanson holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Wyoming.