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Forklift personnel cage vs scissor lift: which is best?

A forklift personnel cage (also called a work platform or man cage) is an attachment that can be lifted by a forklift to provide a stable platform for working at height. A scissor lift is a self-propelled platform. Companies that need to occasionally work at heights on their premises could consider either, but which one is most suitable?

Assuming a company already has a forklift, should they purchase another piece of equipment?

Advantages of a personnel cage

Price: a personnel cage can be purchased for less than $1500 new, whereas even a cheap scissor lift will be at least $10,000 second-hand. A personnel cage is also cheaper to insure and maintain.

Capacity: it is usually capable of carrying more weight than a scissor lift. The image below shows that the platform will support 1200kg, but scissor lifts usually don’t support much above 450kg.

Flexibility: A personnel cage can be used across multiple types of forklifts, giving flexibility in location and surface. For example, the platform can be used with both off-road and flat-surface forklifts.

Stability: With a very capable forklift, much greater stability will be achieved using a personnel cage. Scissor lifts are either rated for no wind, or up to 12.5m/s (assuming there are no large flat items that could act like a sail). With the platform above, using a forklift with, for example, a 5-tonne capacity, would provide excellent stability in a wide range of challenging conditions.

Robustness: A personnel cage is very robust and doesn’t need much in the way of servicing or keeping a logbook for usage.

Training: Training to use a personnel cage is easier and cheaper than using an EWP like a scissor lift.

Advantages of a scissor lift

Worker at work in the construction of a plasterboard wall.

Self-propelled: As it is self-propelled, it only needs one operator who can move it and lift/lower it, whereas a personnel cage needs the forklift operator and the person on the platform.

Footprint: A scissor lift has a much smaller footprint than a forklift plus a personnel cage plus forklift when operating, plus it is more manoeuvrable, so can access confined areas.

Opportunity cost: When a forklift is lifting using a personnel cage, it can’t be doing anything else, so in the end, it can be quite costly (i.e. lost opportunity to move other materials, plus the fact that two employees are required to operate it).

Larger working area: a large scissor lift or a scissor lift with an extendable platform, like the one shown above, will have a larger working area than a personnel cage, sometimes more than double the space.

Power: Scissor lifts have power outlets on the platform for plugging in tools (although, this is less necessary these days with battery-powered tools being common.

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Darren has written over 3000 articles about driving and vehicles, plus almost 500 vehicle reviews and numerous driving courses. Connect with him on LinkedIn by clicking the name above

Tagged with: | Posted in Advice, EWP, Forklift