5 Minute Safety Talk: Jacks – working Under a Vehicle

Working with equipment that needs to be raised with jacks or placed on jack stands brings with it unique hazards. Using these tools requires that employees take certain precautions. Even a vehicle pulled over a pit has special consideration.

What is important to know when working in a garage pit?

Vehicle ramps can provide an alternative method for raising a vehicle. Ramps should be used on a hard level surface, preferably concrete. The ramps should be used in pairs. Place wheel chocks under the wheels on the ground so that the vehicle cannot roll off the ramps.
  • Check pit for presence of flammable or other hazardous vapors.
  • Remove all flammable/combustible materials from pit.
  • Ensure that the ventilation system is working efficiently.
  • Place vehicle so there is room to get out of pit in an emergency.
  • Set chocks to keep vehicle from moving.
  • Use only explosion-proof lights. Ensure that light globes are not broken or missing.
  • Use pneumatic (air-powered) or explosion-protected tools as a safety precaution even though the pit has been checked for flammable vapors.
  • Do not drain a fuel tank over or near a pit. Vapors from gasoline and paint solvents are heavier than air.
  • Cover pit when not in use with solid, well-fitting boards or install guardrails on all sides of pit. Replace any guardrails that are damaged.
  • Do not jump across pits.
  • Wear a bump cap and protective eyewear.

Mandatory Safety Standards

Manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers of vehicle and jacks must ensure their products comply with the mandatory safety standards which specify design, construction, performance and marking requirements. The marking requirements include a safety warning not to get under a vehicle that is supported by a jack, but it is the responsibility of the consumer to take notice of the warning and use the product safely in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

What are some safety tips to know when using a jack?

Use vehicle support stands to provide stability to your vehicle when it is raised. Jacks do not provide adequate stability when you’re getting under a car. Never use bricks and timber blocks as substitutes for support stands.
  • Visually inspect the jack before each use.
  • Use only jacks that are maintained in good operating condition.
  • Place the jack securely on a dry, level, clean surface at right angles to the load.
  • Position the jack at the jack point recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
  • Shift the vehicle with automatic transmission to park or to low gear, if it has a standard transmission, and apply the parking break.
  • Use chocks in front and back of the wheel that is on the diagonal from the wheel that will be raised (e.g., if jacking up the right, front wheel, use the chocks on the left, rear wheel).
  • Do not overload a jack beyond its capacity. All lifts must be vertical.
  • Do not position yourself where you could be pinned between the operating handle and the wall if the vehicle or jack moves accidentally.
  • If working alone, always arrange to have someone check on you at pre-arranged, regular intervals.
  • Place safety stands under the vehicle to support the vehicle if an employee must work under the vehicle.
  • Ensure that the safety stands are in good condition and positioned properly and that the correct support pins are used in adjustable axle stands
  • Do not get under a vehicle that is supported by a jack only – always use suitable safety stands.
  • Ensure jacks are inspected regularly by a qualified person according to the manufacturers specifications.
  • Ensure any defects are reported and the jack is taken out of service until a qualified person determines it safe for use again..

What are some tips for using a creeper?

Chocking the wheels is an important safety precaution to prevent the vehicle from moving or rolling. When using jacks, ramps or vehicle support stands, always use wheel chocks on the wheels remaining in contact with the ground.
  • Make sure the proper stands are in position in case of hoist failure or jack movement.
  • Wear appropriate eye and head protection.
  • Keep feet clear of other traffic.
  • Use tool trays on sides of cart to transport hand tools rather than on your chest.
  • Secure creepers in a wall rack when not in use.
  • Do not leave creepers leaning against the wall where they could be a tripping or “skate board” hazard.