Posted April 25, 2019

Five ways new ANSI standards affect MEWP users

As standards fully come into effect in December, 2019,  changes will go into effect to create a more consistent approach to the safe use of MEWPs.

By Melinda, Zimmerman-Smith, Lighthouse Communications for International Powered Access Federation (IPAF)

New ANSI A92 standards for Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs), which were formerly known as Aerial Work Platforms or AWPs, go into effect this December, requiring some changes on the part of equipment users and operators. What does this mean to you?

To start with, if you’re an operator, contractor, supervisor, dealer or rental house, and you direct operators in the use of MEWPs, the standards refer to you as “the user” and you have responsibilities toward the safe use of the equipment.

Who says?
ANSI stands for the American National Standards Institute. It’s not a governing body and does not make or enforce laws. ANSI is an organization that coordinates the United States’ voluntary consensus standards system, providing a neutral forum for the development and conformity of policies and assessment programs and processes. While ANSI cannot fine you for not following its standards, it does advise OSHA on its regulations, which are enforced with fines for violations.

It’s in everyone’s best interest to follow ANSI standards not because they foster worker and environmental safety. On the other hand. failing to do so could violate OSHA regulations and result in fines.

For its part, the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) aims to foster the safe use of MEWPs by providing information and training to owners and users. While the organization has no authority to create or enforce standards, it does support their intention and works toward publicizing information so users have maximum comprehension and understanding of what’s required for the safest possible use of the equipment.

“The very first thing every user must do is read and understand the new standards,” says Tony Groat, IPAF North America manager. “On one hand, the standard does not introduce many new requirements, but on the other hand, the standard has added much more detail to ensure users are being as thorough as the prior standards expected them to be.”

Ultimately, the goal of the updated standards is to get everyone on the same page to ensure the safe use of equipment. This refers to the application, inspection, training, maintenance, repair and safe operation of MEWPs. Following are some of the basics to keep in mind:

1. Check things out
Before work begins, users are responsible for performing a site risk assessment to identify hazards, evaluate risk, develop control measures and communicate them with those affected.

In many cases, this person is the employer, who either owns or has rented a MEWP. No matter the scope of the job, he or she is additionally responsible for the safety of persons not involved in the operation of the MEWP. In some cases, the user might be the only person on the job and is, in effect, responsible for only him or herself.

Once a site risk assessment is complete, the task is not done. Assessments must be periodically revisited, especially on long-term or complicated jobs where things are rapidly changing. If changes are made to the original assessment, these must be documented and promptly communicated to everyone involved.   

Among the many things considered in a site risk assessment, weather is one aspect that’s constantly changing. According to new standards, users must be aware of and understand the effect of wind forces on the MEWPs they’re using, as well as on the equipment in the work platform. More information about weather requirements can be found in A92.22 Section 6.8.2 Weather Considerations.

“Once jobsite hazards and risks have been identified, they must be eliminated or mitigated and the plan effectively communicated to all affected parties,” Groat explains. “This is nothing new, of course, a site risk assessment has always been needed, but it hasn’t been performed as intended. Prior standards stated the standard must be supplemented by good job management, safety control, and the application of sound principles of safety. Starting in December, a risk assessment will specifically be required, so users will clearly understand their responsibility.”

Click here for the ANSI Manual of Responsibilities     

2. Have a plan
Rescue planning is another vital part of safe MEWP use and is a necessary component of a site risk assessment. Under the new ANSI standards, users are required to develop a written rescue plan that will be carried out in case of a machine breakdown, platform entanglement or fall from the platform. The written plan must be part of the company’s training manual and everyone must receive training that explains the procedures to follow in case of emergency.

Specifics on how to develop a compliant rescue plan can be found at A92.22 Section Rescue from Height.

3. Choose wisely
Once the site has been assessed, the next step is making adjustments as needed to ensure optimum safety, and an important part of that is selecting and providing the right equipment for the job. That means not using a 19-foot scissor lift for a job that calls for a 45-foot boom, for example, and it also requires an assessment that the ground surface is adequate to support the load imposed by the MEWP. Equipment must also always be properly maintained and in good working order.

All of this needs to be monitored and supervised by a trained and qualified individual assigned by the user. This person must be someone who can ensure compliance with the standards and prevent unauthorized use of the MEWP, as well as ensure the safety of bystanders not associated with MEWP operation. A qualified supervisor is defined as one who is assigned by the user to monitor operator performance and supervise their work and who has completed specific training such as IPAF’s MEWPs for Managers course to fulfill their training requirements defined in A92.24 7.5 Supervisor Training.

4. Training remains paramount
While it’s certainly not new, it bears repeating that only trained and authorized personnel are allowed to operate and/or occupy MEWPs. All authorized MEWP operators must be familiar with the specific MEWP they intend to use. This is different to training as it relates to the specific machine being used, including such things as how the controls work, what the machine’s functionality is, where the auxiliary controls are located and how they operate and where the user manual is kept.

A trained and qualified supervisor must then monitor the operator’s performance to ensure compliance. To show competency, trainees must prove proficiency in theory and practical operation, and evaluations of both components must be documented. Note, it’s up to the user to ensure training is presented in a manner that trainees can understand.

One aspect of training that’s new is the requirement that all supervisors be trained as such. Training must be given by a qualified person with experience in the particular class of MEWP and who is knowledgeable about the laws, regulations, safe use practices, manufacturer’s requirements, recognition and avoidance of related hazards.

When requested by the user, dealers and owners (including rental houses) must provide familiarization to the person receiving the MEWP. For example, if a rental house delivers a machine to a job site and the person receiving it asks for familiarization, the rental employee delivering the MEWP is required to provide it.

Likewise, when using a lift, the trained MEWP operator must be familiarized with the equipment being used, and in turn must provide instruction or in some way ensure all occupants have at least a basic level of knowledge to work safely on the machine.

At least one of the occupants must be able to operate the controls in the event of an emergency if the operator can’t. Note, this doesn’t give that occupant authorization to operate the controls at any other time except in an emergency.

General information about training can be found at ANSI A92.24 and specific support on how to become ANSI compliant is offered free to all interested parties by IPAF at and details of how to go about finding training courses via

5. Retraining required
Once an operator completes training and proves their proficiency with the equipment, a user can determine they are qualified to perform the work and authorize them to operate a MEWP. But what happens after that? According to the updated standards, users must designate a qualified person to monitor, supervise, evaluate and document operators on a regular basis to ensure their continued proficiency.

The language in the standard allows the user to make the determination based on performance and by applying reasonable judgment. The standard also offers examples when retraining would be necessary, such as operator’s performance is deteriorating, extended time with no MEWP operation, introduction of significantly new or different technology and more.

As Groat explains, changes to the A92 ANSI standards aren’t drastic, but will be transformative in creating a more consistent and well-understood approach to the safe use of MEWPs: “With a stand-alone safe use and training standard with more detailed requirements provided for users, there should be an increased focus and understanding of what’s needed to provide appropriate training and safe use practices that will ensure worker safety and productivity.”