Qualified personnel, proper training and retraining, risk assessment, and adherence to manufacturer’s guidelines help ensure job site safety.
When it comes to MEWP safe-use planning, the ANSI/SAIA A92.22 safe use standard provides requirements and responsibilities to ensure a safe workplace for personnel using mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs).
The selection, positioning, operation, and maintenance, as well as the pre-start, pre-delivery, frequent, and annual inspections of a MEWP must be performed by a qualified person in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements, considering the environment and severity of use.
The terms “qualified” and “training” are used more than 50 times in the standard as an indicator of their importance in MEWP safety.
Some common definitions that apply as used in the standard and this article are:
All tasks must be properly planned, appropriately supervisd, and carried out in a safe manner. That requires that all persons who plan, supervise, or carry out the work must be qualified for the tasks they perform.
A key part of the definition for a qualified person is the need to have “successfully demonstrated the ability to solve or resolve problems” related to the task (for example, intended use, safe operation, inspection, supervision, maintenance, and familiarization).
The operation of any MEWP is subject to potential hazards that can be protected against only by the exercise of care and good judgement. All work at height has risks that require qualified people to ensure the risks are properly managed and avoided.
Performing a site risk assessment is the starting point for MEWP operation. Having identified the hazards associated with the use of MEWPs, a qualified person must evaluate the risks associated with their use and put appropriate control measures in place as identified by the risk assessment.
The MEWP user is responsible for ensuring that personnel are trained, qualified, and authorized for all required tasks. The user is also responsible for assessing whether personnel are qualified to perform the work.
Only trained and authorized persons shall be permitted to operate a MEWP. All personnel that directly supervise MEWP operators shall receive training as defined in ANSI A92.24. It is abundantly clear that part of becoming a qualified person requires training.
Training and Retraining
Training is defined as the "Instruction to enable the trainee to become a qualified person," as training alone does not mean one is qualified for the task. To be qualified, an individual must "successfully demonstrate his/her ability to solve or resolve problems related to the subject matter."
This places the responsibility on the employer, after training, to “assess if personnel are qualified to perform the task.” With MEWP operators, this is where the MEWP supervisor monitors, supervises, and evaluates the operators.
Based on the evaluations, a user may require retraining for the operator. It is critical to understand the definition of retraining used in the standard – “required instruction based on the user’s observations or evaluations to maintain a previously trained person’s status as a qualified operator.”
Retraining may be required due to deterioration of the operator’s performance, an extended period without operating a MEWP, or the operator’s involvement in an accident or near miss.
Retraining can include safety meetings, toolbox talks, or other forms of instruction that the employer can use to “maintain a previously trained person’s status as a qualified operator.”
To that end, a MEWP supervisor must know the rules, regulations, and standards that apply to MEWPs and be aware of the potential hazards associated with use of MEWPs and the means to protect against identified hazards.
MEWPs are the safest means to provide access to temporary work at height, but their safe use depends on trained, qualified persons performing the task.
Training is an essential part of being qualified, and the training must meet the requirements of industry standards.
Even MEWP occupants are required to be provided with instructions to provide the basic level of knowledge to work safely on the MEWP.
Last is the requirement for MEWP operator training renewal.
It is now widely accepted that five years is the maximum term for the training. Some may follow three years to be consistent with forklift operator training norms.
Operator renewal training is the successful completion of training in accordance with ANSI/SAIA A92.24 standard.
Requirements and Standards
The training requirements for MEWP operators and their supervisors are in the ANSI/SAIA A92.24-2018 training standard.
The standard provides methods and guidelines for preparing training materials, defines administrative criteria, and delivers elements required for proper training and familiarization.
It also provides a list of topics that must be covered in MEWP operator and supervisor training courses.
The standard also defines the requirements for a qualified trainer, guidelines for a training environment that supports adult learning, outlines for required testing, and requirements for documentation and record retention.
One cannot claim to have been trained if the training does not comply with those requirements.
The ANSI/SAIA A92.22 safe use and ANSI/SAIA A92.24 training requirements can be purchased in a manual of responsibilities document from the standard secretariate (A92 Manuals of Responsibilities (MOR) – SAIA Scaffold & Access Industry Association (saiaonline.org).
Don’t take short cuts to safety!