Equipment, training and operation will all be affected.
Changes are coming to aerial lifts — now to be called Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) — and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards that dictate their design and usage.
ANSI A92, developed by a standards committee after almost two years of work, addresses the design of new aerial lift equipment as well as the type of training operators, supervisors and maintenance personnel must receive.
“The ANSI A92 is also bringing us closer to a global standard; there were things in the current European standards that weren’t part of the present code,” said Jennifer Stiansen, director of marketing for JLG Industries Inc., a manufacturer of aerial lifts. Canada adopted its new standard, CSA B354, in 2017.
One big change made in ANSI A92 is the way aerial lifts are classified. All will be referred to as Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs), and there will be two classes:
- Group A. In these, the center of the work platform remains within the perimeter of the chassis at all times. Examples include scissor lifts and vertical lifts.
- Group B. In these, the center of the work platform can be positioned beyond the chassis. Boom lifts fall into Group B.
Each group is further broken down into:
- Type 1, which can travel only in the stowed position and must be moved manually
- Type 2, which are controlled from the chassis and can be driven elevated
- Type 3, which have controls on the work platform and can be driven elevated.
“ANSI and CSA are trying to get their standards more global, so they are beginning to use the same terminology that has been used abroad,” explained Lee Braden, manager of safety training at United Academy, the training branch of United Rentals.
Under ANSI A92, new aerial lifts will be required to have sensors that sound an alarm and prevent the machine from operating when the safe load limit is exceeded. The machinery must also include a tilt sensor that triggers an alarm and prevents movement of the chassis or work platform when a certain level of slope is exceeded.
Chains to close off entrances to the work platform will no longer be permitted; MEWPs will have to have a gate, complete with toe guards.
ANSI A92 will require MEWPS used outdoors to have sensors for wind speed so load capacities can be reduced in windy conditions. MEWPs labeled for indoor use only won’t require these sensors.
The required height for the equipment platform railings will be raised to 43.5 inches, up from 39 inches.
To improve stability, MEWPs used on rough terrain will need solid tires or foam-filled tires rather than air-filled tires.
“Even though nothing has been officially approved at this point, most manufacturers are already implementing these changes,” said Braden. “Most of the new equipment that United Rentals is receiving already has most if not all of the new requirement components.”
Safe operation and training
ANSI A92 will set new training requirements. For example, the people who maintain the MEWPs will have to receive training on the new features, like the tilt and load sensors. Supervisors on the ground who are in charge of the lift crews will also have to receive specific training, which wasn’t previously required.
“In addition, if you as an operator have somebody who is going up in the boom lift with you, it’s now your responsibility to explain to that individual the basics of what they should do if something happens to you — how they can get you both back down,” said Braden. There must also be a dedicated person on site who knows how to operate the equipment from the ground if the occupants in the platform are unable to lower themselves
ANSI A92 also requires a site- and equipment-specific rescue plan. “Although that’s always been needed, until this revision it has not been spelled out in ANSI. So folks are going to have to be thinking about and creating a documented rescue plan in case an operator is elevated in a 60-foot boom lift and it no longer functions. What do they do? How would they be rescued?” said Braden.
Another new requirement: Operators must familiarize themselves with the operation of each MEWP. In the past, an operator familiar with one type of lift would need to receive instruction from a qualified person on another lift’s operation before operating it. Under ANSI A92, operators will be responsible for reading the operator’s manual, walking around the equipment and familiarizing themselves with it.
All of these changes will require companies to update their training for anyone who operates, supervises or maintains MEWPs. United Rentals is well on its way to completing the necessary changes.
“Not too long ago we completed an upgrade of our blended learning program, and while we were making the modifications we inserted the upcoming ANSI changes, so we are ahead of the curve and able to train our employees and customers on the upcoming changes,” said Braden. (United Rentals’ blended learning program allows operators seeking lift certifications to take classes online at their own pace and then have the practical evaluation conducted at one of United Rentals’ branches or at their job location.)
Timetable and challenges
The aerial lift industry has been anticipating the release of ANSI A92 since early 2018, but due to requests for clarifications filed during the comment period, there is no firm release date yet.
Once the standards are released, companies will have 12 months to comply. Once that year has passed, manufacturers will have to include all of the new required features, but older equipment that doesn’t meet the new standards will not need to be retrofitted, and companies can continue to use it.
Contractors using a blend of old and new equipment will have to take steps to ensure operator safety, said Stiansen.
“People should start thinking about how they are going to manage mixed fleets of machines, some of which will have features that are ANSI A92 compliant,” Stiansen explained. “How are they going to differentiate between the newer machines and the machines prior to A92? Operators potentially could get used to some features on the newer machines and then get in and operate older machines and anticipate that it will have the same feature and it doesn’t.
“I think that’s going to be the biggest challenge for the contractors and for rental companies, too,” she added.
Freelance writer Mary Lou Jay writes about business and technical developments in a variety of industries. She has been covering residential and commercial construction for more than 25 years.