Cause of Concerns for Contractors: Implementation of Aerial Lift Standards

Author, Casey Craig, Account Executive, Construction Group, Rancho Mesa Insurance Services, Inc.

Town men on aerial lift

Beginning December 2019, standards for using and renting aerial lifts will drastically change, globally. As a result, contractors are concerned they will not be prepared for the changes which could lead to loss of production and fines.

Since the use of aerial lifts is becoming more frequent, the new standards were approved by the American National Standards Institution (ANSI) in an effort to align the United States and the rest of the world with having globally accepted safety standards. Canada published its standards last May and the United States is following suite with the release of the ANSI A92 .20 (equipment responsibilities), .22 (safe use), .24 (training). Further details can be found in Scaffold & Access Industry Association’s (SAIA) copy of the standards.

Moving forward, “Aerial Work Platforms” (AWP) will be referred to as “Mobile Elevating Work Platforms” (MEWP). The new standards are meant to address ongoing problems with:

  • Effect of Wind on a Load

    • MEWP’s may be rated one of two ways; for interior use only or for exterior use, but those will have a maxim height limitation without consideration to the length the arm can be extended.

  • Platform Capacity

    • The new equipment will automatically shut off if it exceeds the specified weight limit. Thus, in some cases, it may be necessary to use two lifts to do a job safely.

  • Chassis Tilt  

    • Understanding the terrain where the lift will be working will be vital. Most equipment has been rated for firm or level ground, but new machinery will also take into account the tilt of the machine and will shut off if it is unsafe.  

Manufacturers are already taking heed and changing their product designs to accommodate the new requirements. Aside from the changes to the machinery, contractors will need to evaluate who is trained to operate the MEWPs. 

  • Operators will need to be trained in how to use the machinery and walk their job sites to look for problems before using the lift.

  • Supervisors must know how the machine works, its functionality, how much it weighs and how much weight it can handle, so that they are not relaying poor information to the operator.

  • Additionally an occupant riding in an aerial lift (i.e., MEWP) must have a general understanding of how the machine works so if there is a problem they can safely get back down.

Previously, operators were only required to know how high the lift being used would need to go. As of December 2019, the operator will also need to know the terrain where the aerial lift will be operated, the load weight, and the lift’s reach under load for the job. When renting equipment it is likely the rental industry will issue a supplemental application to pre-qualify each job.

Machines built before the new standards will be grandfathered in and will not have to be updated. However, this could cause issues for contractors if they work on job sites that require the most current safety specifications. This could limit the use of older machinery.

While these standards will not take effect until December of this year, there is still a lot to be learned and will require proactive planning by all contractors to insure compliance. There are still many unanswered questions including exactly how involved OSHA will be in enforcing these new rules. Rancho Mesa will be providing updates regularly to assist you through these changes. 

For additional information, please contact Rancho Mesa Insurance Services, Inc. at (619) 438-6900.