Always double-check the weight of the heaviest vehicle. Confirm that the lift is certified to meet, or exceed, that threshold.

Confirm facility clearance. Before selecting a lifting system – whether it's mobile columns, two-post, four-post, in-ground scissor, or piston-style lifts -- measure the ceiling height  and note the height of the tallest vehicle you'll be using on that lift. This ensures technicians have ample room to work comfortably.

Consider lift positioningWith mobile column lifts, before you begin, always lift on a firm foundation on level ground. When lifting outdoors, be aware of wind loads. Make sure all technicians are clear of the vehicle and that the wheels being raised are properly engaged with the forks on mobile column lifts. For in-ground piston lifts, check that the contact points are properly positioned.

Select a system that prevents unauthorized access to operation, whether it's a locked control box or a secure key or “wand.

Select a system that ensures stability. Look for “synchronization” that starts immediately when the lift goes into motion and continues through the full range of travel. This ensures safe and smooth lifting and lowering cycles, especially when weight is unequally distributed (like with three-axle fire trucks). Make sure the mechanical locking system starts near the floor and continues right up the entire height of the lift.

Consider going wireless. When using mobile column lifts, consider a system that offers wireless operation. Some mobile column lifts are powered by a 24-volt DC system and require no interconnecting cables. Technicians get maximum access without the risk of tripping. The world's largest bus system uses wireless columns .

Buy lifts that are third-party tested and validated.

Follow the manufacturer’s recommended schedules for maintenance.

Have a certified lift inspect check out the equipment once a year.

For more information, go to pages 42 and 43 of the 2012 Public Works Manual.