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How Much Weight Can a Scissor Lift Hold?

One of the main concerns people have when operating scissor lifts is the weight capacity of the machine they are using. Understanding how much weight a scissor lift can bear is essential for getting the job done both safely and effectively.

This article looks at a scissor lift’s load capacity, the typical weight limits of common models found across the UK (including those from’s own hire fleet), and several guidelines that can help you choose the most appropriate scissor lift for your own specific needs.

Understanding Scissor Lift Load Capacity

The load capacity of a scissor lift is the maximum weight it can safely hold. This capacity is influenced by various factors including the platform’s dimensions, the strength of the materials used in its construction, and its overall design.

A scissor lift been used by workmen to install a large heavy sign.

Manufacturers of scissor lifts provide ‘safe working load’ (SWL) values for each of the models they produce, and it is this value you need to look out for to determine the limits of your chosen machine. The SWL should be visible on the machines safety/specification plate but should also be listed in the manual. If in doubt, always contact the manufacturer to determine the correct SWL before using the machine.

Factors Influencing Load Capacity

Several factors can influence the load capacity of a scissor lift:

  • Platform Size – Larger platforms typically support more weight, thanks to enhanced support mechanisms that are built to handle increased loads.
  • Material Construction – The construction materials of the scissor (such as high-strength steel or reinforced aluminium) play a crucial role in its load-bearing capabilities.
  • Design/Structure – The structural design of a scissor lift impacts how effectively weight is distributed across the platform. A well-designed lift ensures even weight distribution, which can significantly increase its safe working load.

Common Weight Limits of Scissor Lifts

Scissor lifts are available in a range of models and sizes, each of which will have its own lifting capacity which often ranges from around 200 kilograms to over 700 kilograms depending on the size and specification of the platform.

Here are some common weight limits that you can typically find on scissor lifts used across the UK:

  • Small Portable Scissor Lifts – Ideal for indoor tasks like changing light bulbs in a warehouse, these scissors often have lifting capacities ranging from anywhere between 200 and 500 kilograms.
  • Standard Scissor Lifts – Common in construction and industrial settings, these platforms can typically lift between 500 and 700 kilograms and are able to accommodate multiple workers and their equipment.
  • Heavy-Duty Scissor Lifts – These are designed for tougher tasks, with some models capable of holding more than 700 kilograms. Some models can even hold over 1,000 kilograms should you require the extra capacity.

As mentioned previously, you should always check the SWL value of the machine you are operating to determine the correct value for your specific scissor lift.

Choosing the Right Scissor Lift

Selecting a suitable scissor lift requires a thorough assessment of your specific requirements. Some guidelines you may wish to consider are as follows:

  • Assess the Weight – Calculate the total weight of workers, tools, materials, and any other items the scissor lift will need to carry. To ensure safety, choose a lift with a capacity that comfortably exceeds this total.
  • Consider the Working Environment – The choice between indoor and outdoor scissor lifts depends on where the lift will be used, as outdoor models are typically more robust and have higher load capacities. Some models also feature enhancements for operating on rough terrain (something you may need to consider for your project).
  • Check for Additional Features – Features like extendable platforms or advanced safety controls can be crucial for certain tasks and should influence the selection process.

We have a more in depth article on choosing the right scissor lift for the job which you can find here.

A scissor lift with specific weight limit.

Safety Tips

To maintain safety when using scissor lifts, remember the following:

  • Never Exceed the SWL – Overloading a scissor lift can cause mechanical failures, increase the risk of tipping, and lead to accidents resulting in either injury or death.
  • Distribute Weight Evenly – Ensure that loads are balanced across the platform to maintain stability.
  • Regular Maintenance – Perform daily inspections and regular maintenance to keep the scissor lift in optimal condition and address potential issues before they might lead to problems.


When it comes to working safely at height, it’s important to understand how much weight your scissor lift can actually hold. By considering factors like platform size, design, and intended use, you can increase your chances of finding a suitable scissor lift with the correct lifting capacity. You should always check the safe working load (SWL) of your chosen machine prior to operating it.

If you are ever in doubt of how to safely operate access equipment provided by, then our experts are always on hand to offer simple and helpful advice.

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