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Do I need a licence to operate a scissor lift?

Working at height always carries risks. Whether you're operating a large or small scissor lift, indoors or outdoors, you need to complete specialised training and hold a valid licence.
The type of licence you need depends on the height you'll be working at. Elevating Work Platforms (EWP) licensing is standardised across Australia for scissor lifts under 11 metres.

What are the risks when using scissor lifts?

Scissor lifts are a safe and reliable means of reaching areas that would otherwise be inaccessible – as long as operators are properly trained in the safe use of the equipment and aware of the hazards in the area.


Potential hazards when scissor lifts are used improperly can include:

  1. falling from height
  2. crush risk when raising or moving scissor lifts
  3. electrocution from overhead powerlines
  4. equipment tip-over or collapse

What type of licence do I need?

Before you can operate scissor lifts or other EWPs in Australia, you need to complete a nationally-recognised training course with a Registered Training Organisation (RTO).

For scissor lifts, this usually means an EWP Operator Ticket (Yellow Card). This covers the operation of platforms under 11 metres in height.

If you're operating platforms taller than 11 metres, you'll need a WorkCover High Risk Work Licence issued for the state you're in.

A Yellow Card covers the operation of up to 5 types of elevating work platforms: scissor lifts (SL), self-propelled boomlifts (BL), truck-mounted booms (TM), trailer-mounted boomlifts (TL) and vertical lifts (VL). If you only choose to complete scissor lift training, the other types will be deleted from the card.

If you're already experienced in the use of EWPs, but you haven't completed formal training, a licence may be provided if a registered training provider can confirm your knowledge of their safe operation. Refresher training is also recommended at regular intervals.

What does scissor lift training involve?

Yellow Card training is completed in a single day, taking between 6 and 8 hours. It covers the theory and practical use of scissor lifts as unit of competence RIIHAN301B – operating elevated work platforms. Training and assessment covers:

  1. safety features
  2. operating requirements
  3. operational checks
  4. safe use of mobile elevating work platforms (AS2550.10)
  5. set-up, operation and shutting down procedures
  6. emergency procedures

The theory component of the course includes problem solving activities and answering questions. Practical training assesses competence in a range of work-type activities.

If the scissor lift you hire is different from the models used in your training and assessment, on-site familiarisation training is recommended, as there can be significant differences in the controls and design. Other people using the scissor lift should also be instructed on safety and emergency precautions.

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