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|Working under a vehicle that is only supported by a jack can be fatal. In Australia, over the last four years at least 19 people have been crushed and killed by a vehicle they were working under. All the deaths were men and involved the vehicle being lifted or supported in the wrong way.|
A jack is a jack, right? Not so! There are different types of jacks for different purposes and using the right one for the job will go a long way towards keeping you safe.
You should use a trolley jack to lift a vehicle before putting support stands in place underneath. When using a trolley jack, refer to the vehicle workshop manual to identify the correct lifting point. Do not use a trolley jack on its own when working under a vehicle.
A vehicle specific jack is normally supplied with your vehicle for changing tyres. Check that the jack is marked with the name or trademark of the vehicle manufacturer and matches the model of the vehicle that it will be used with. Never use a vehicle jack for raising a vehicle to work underneath it.
Large vehicles, such as 4WDs, may be too heavy for smaller jacks to lift safely. Always check the jack's label to ensure that its maximum load capacity is enough to support the vehicle you are lifting.
For many car maintenance jobs vehicle ramps are a good alternative for raising a vehicle. Ramps should be used in pairs on a hard level surface, with wheel chocks placed under the wheels on the ground so that the vehicle cannot roll off the ramps.
Remember: before lifting the vehicle, chock the wheels that remain on the ground and never get under the vehicle until it is supported by support stands. Read the safety warnings on the jack and follow the manufacturer's advice. Check the weight capacity of the jack and do not exceed it—the jack could fail and place you in danger.
In Australia, there are mandatory product safety standards which jacks need to meet. It is the responsibility of manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers of vehicle and trolley jacks to ensure their products comply with these standards. And if a product fails to comply, action must be taken to keep consumers safe.
Super Cheap recalls jacks
Recently the ACCC found that Super Cheap Auto's Super Works (2500kg) hydraulic trolley jacks (models TT643 and TT649Q) did not comply with the consumer product safety standard for trolley jacks. Alarmingly, during testing, one model collapsed and the other lost cap height which is considered a sign of instability and increases the risk of failure with further loading or shock movement. After ACCC concerns, Super Cheap withdrew the trolley jacks from sale and recalled the 21,112 jacks already sold. If you think you have bought one of these jacks, contact your nearest Super Cheap retail store for a refund.
The ACCC and the Department of Health and Ageing have teamed up in a campaign to alert home mechanics to the hazards of working under a car. The campaign includes a new brochure on how to stay safe working under a vehicle. The brochure Safety Alert Working under a Vehicle is available from the ACCC Infocentre on 1300 302 502 or from the ACCC website at www.accc.gov.au.
Jack of all trades