Aerial Work Platforms
Robert Grupe / July 2019
Q: Can you provide some information concerning the new ANSI Standard on aerial work platforms?
A: This new standard, ANSI A92, is the first major change in the standards that covers aerial work platforms since 2006. There are several significant updates that will have a direct impact on contractors. The first one is the requirement for training. Specialized training is now required for anyone who supervises operators of mobile elevating work platforms. Specialized training is also required for the user and occupants of the elevated work platform. This training should be completed by Dec. 10, 2019. Compliance to ANSI A92.22 is enforced by OSHA.
The term “mobile elevating work platform” is new in and of itself; the old term was “aerial work platform.” The latest standard is an aggregation of older standards that covered specific lifts. Therefore, the new term and standard includes scissor, boom and vertical lifts. These lifts are divided into two main groups. Group A is a platform that “moves vertically, but stays inside the tipping lines,” and Group B is where the platform “extends past the machine’s chassis.” Each group is then broken down into three types:
Type one—Can only be moved with the platform in a “stowed position.”
Type two—The platform can be elevated for movement and controlled from the chassis.
Type three—The controls are on the work platform, which can be elevated during movement.
Beyond the training requirement, one significant change is the requirement for accommodating potential wind force. Any anticipated wind force will require a MEWP designated for outdoor applications. This differentiates equipment designed solely for indoor applications. This will result in the use of heavier equipment coupled with a reduced platform weight capacity. The weight of these machines is substantially greater than earlier models, and that may impact floor loading requirements.
Another change is with the height of the guard rails. The height of the rails has been increased from 39 to 43.5 inches for smaller scissor lifts. Some manufacturers have designed their smaller lifts so the top rail can be lowered to adjust for ease of fit through door openings. This new feature also drives the need for training to ensure safe operation and proper use of the equipment. The other work platform change is the elimination of chains as entrance gates. New compliant designs have half or full gates. Also, there will be toe boards on all sides of the platform.
New ANSI compliant lifts will be laden with sensors. There will be sensors to set off an alarm and stop work if the load limits on the work platform are exceeded. Sensors will alert the user if the allowable tilt angle of the lift is exceeded. This will require some pre-planning on the operator’s part when moving the lift to another location. The lift will stop if the angle is exceeded. Outdoor lifts will have wind sensors that will monitor wind speeds to avoid toppling the lift.
Manufacturers of lifts are required to provide their units with solid or foam-filled tires in rough terrain. This may be a detriment when attempting to operate on sand, gravel and soft soil conditions.
Requirements that directly apply to contractors include the training as mentioned, plus drafting a site specific “safe use” plan. This includes expertise in choosing the appropriate equipment to meet the project requirements, as well as establishing a site-specific safety plan. This would also contain how to handle emergencies during the operation of the equipment, including how to get workers safely off an elevated platform. Training operators on the lift’s safe usage must cover how to use the fall protection equipment, which includes the location of the fall protection anchors.
A major work-platform manufacturer suggests a five-step risk assessment process that starts with understanding the scope of the project, including the tasks that will be undertaken, the location and any time restraints. The second step is to determine which working platform is best suited for the project. The third step is to evaluate the risks specific to the job site. That would include height and weight requirements. The fourth step is to ensure there are controls in place that establish safe work procedures and environment. Examples of this are that proper training has been completed, sequencing has been optimized, and a rescue plan is in place. The fifth and final step is proper communication through training and monitoring of the work as it progresses.
Older equipment will be grandfathered, so there will be no need for using only the new lifts. However, the use of the older equipment does not necessarily waive the training requirement. This new standard will transition into a compliance requirement by the end of 2019. The contractor is well advised to review this new standard and be aware that compliance my be open to interpretation in different regions.
Robert Grupe is AWCI’s director of technical services. Send your questions to email@example.com, or call him directly at (703) 538.1611.