SIA’s Aerial Work Platform Council Plans Stronger Training Requirements

Following the Scaffold Industry Association's Aerial Work Platform Council meeting last week in Orlando, the group is calling for development of stronger training requirements to help prevent unnecessary injuries and accidents involving aerial work platforms. In particular, the council plans to approach OSHA to help enhance AWP training. The Aerial Work Platform Council would like to present OSHA with non-mandatory AWP operator training guidelines based on the OSHA forklift training requirements in 1910.178 (I), through the SIA’s OSHA Alliance.

Based on OSHA's forklift training requirements, AWP training the council plans to present will require trainees to receive general training on the type of aerial platform to be operated, such as a self-propelled aerial work platform or a boom-supported work platform, and familiarization training with a particular model AWP, including the location of manuals, confirmation that appropriate manuals are in place, the purpose and function of all operating controls and safety devices, and characteristics specific to the aerial work platform, prior to authorization to operate an aerial platform. The employer also shall ensure each AWP operator is qualified to operate an AWP safely, as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and specified evaluation.

To implement the program, trainees may operate an AWP only under the direct supervision of persons who have the knowledge, training, and experience to train operators and evaluate their operational proficiency, and where such operation does not endanger the trainee or other employees. Training shall consist of a combination of formal instruction, practical training, and evaluation of the operator's performance in the workplace.

Aerial work platform operators shall receive initial training on the following topics, except those the employer can demonstrate are not applicable to safe operation of the aerial lift in the employer's workplace:

  • A pre-start inspection that should be completed before use each day or at the beginning of each shift and includes visual inspection and function tests;
  • Aerial lift-related topics like operating instructions, warnings, and precautions for the types of aerial lift the operator will be authorized to operate;
  • The differences between aerial lifts;
  • Aerial lift controls and instrumentation, including where they are located, what they do, and how they work; and
  • Workplace-related topics

Refresher training, including an evaluation of the effectiveness of the training, shall be conducted to ensure the operator has the knowledge and skills needed to operate the AWP safely. Refresher training in relevant topics shall be provided to the operator when he or she has been observed to operate the vehicle in an unsafe manner; involved in an accident or near-miss incident; received an evaluation that reveals that the operator is not operating the aerial lift safely; is assigned to drive a different type of aerial lift; or a condition in the workplace changes in a manner that could affect safe operation of the aerial lift.

If an operator has previously received training in a topic specified in this section, and such training is appropriate to the aerial lift and working conditions encountered, additional training in that topic is not required if the operator has been evaluated and found competent to operate the aerial lift safely. The employer shall ensure that each operator has been trained and evaluated, and the certification shall include the name of the operator, the date of the training, the date of the evaluation, and the identity of the person(s) performing the training or evaluation.

The next steps are to get a consensus from as many organizations and manufacturers as possible to agree on the minimum standards for AWP training and then produce a PowerPoint presentation for the SIA’s OSHA Alliance website. The SIA and allied organizations hope this will help companies set their standards for training, whether they are giving the training or receiving it.