The ANSI compliance clock is ticking for job site managers that deploy mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs)—boom lifts, scissor lifts, low-level access equipment and vertical lifts.
In case you missed it, the new A92 ANSI updates were formally announced just a few months ago, and the updated requirements will impact everyone in the access industry in some way. Whether you are an owner, rental company, dealer, user, supervisor, operator, or occupant, you will be responsible for complying with these standards by December 2019.
One new requirement that will promote safety when using MEWPs is creating and implementing a “safe use program.” A safe use program encompasses many aspects—in this article we will focus on workplace inspection and risk assessment, which can identify hazards and potential danger before deploying MEWPs. A properly executed safe use program goes a long way in keeping your employees safe in the constantly changing environment of any jobsite.
To appreciate the concept of a safe use program, lets first define some terms.
- Hazard—any potential source of physical harm.
- Harm—defined as physical injury or damage to health.
- Risk—the probability that someone could be harmed by the hazard.
It seems logical but these basic concepts are often overlooked—we must seek to lower risk by eliminating or avoiding hazards, which leads to the reduction of the possibility of harm.
Once a plan is laid out, however, we must be relentless in monitoring our program because workplaces evolve, and new hazards can appear. Regardless, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide their employees with a safe environment to perform their work.
Workplace inspection requirements appear in the A92 suite multiple times and every entity has some form of requirement to help ensure a safe workplace. According to the A92.22 Safe Use Standard, “before and during the use of the MEWP, the user shall ensure, and the operator shall perform a workplace inspection in the area in which the MEWP is to be used. The workplace shall be checked for possible hazards.” The standard also provides a list of possible hazards to check for during the inspection.
Users are required to develop and implement a safe use program that includes a risk assessment. This risk assessment needs to include guidelines for MEWP supervisors, operators, and occupants. The risk assessment consists of several stages including; task identification, MEWP selection, associated hazards, rescue planning, and communication.
The location and timing of the work is crucial for the next stage—MEWP selection. MEWPs come in all shapes and sizes, with different options and accessories to make work not only easier, but safer. After the task has been identified, the job planned, and a MEWP selected, the risk assessment requires the user to identify and plan for risks and hazards.
The user must further identify control measures and create safe work procedures. For example, dropping tools or materials from an elevated platform has been identified as a hazard. A control measure for this example could be the requirement that all tools must be tethered either to the worker or the MEWP, and all non-operating personnel must be at least six feet (1.8 m) away from machine while work is being performed. A safe work procedure needs to be created and used along with this control measure. An example of this procedure could be: Training is required for all operators and occupants in proper tool tethering techniques. Workers will be taught how to set up ground barricades beneath the elevated work being performed. These two stages of the risk assessment, identifying control measures and creating work procedures, can help reduce the risk of someone being harmed by the hazard listed.
The final stage of the risk assessment is to communicate the results of the assessment. The risk assessment is useless if no one on the jobsite knows about it. Communication is very important to the success of the identified task being completed.
Communication and training are critical to making any safe use program/risk assessment work. Training and communication begins at the top with owners and users and must trickle down through the ranks of supervisors, operators, and occupants.
JLG’s Train the Trainer Program has been revamped to include all the ANSI A92 Standard Suite updates. The updated program includes hands-on applications of safe use planning, creating risk assessment plans, and performing occupant knowledge requirements. Upon successful completion of the JLG Train the Trainer Program, graduates are qualified to teach JLG MEWP and Telehandler Operator Training Programs, access all JLG’s updated training resources and issue Operator Cards.
JLG has also created a MEWP Supervisor Training Program, which is available online through the JLG AccessReady website. This online e-learning provides supervisors the knowledge and skills needed to manage and maintain compliant MEWP operation. Once a supervisor has completed the course, graduates will receive a MEWP Supervisor Card, the official credentials that confirm completion of the required training for the job.
Safety, safe use, and training is everyone’s responsibility, and the ANSI requirements of workplace inspections, safe use planning, and implementing risk assessments can save lives. Every entity defined under the A92 Standards needs to understand and implement safe use practices for their employees—not just for compliance reasons but because it’s also the best practice for operator safety. These requirements take a far less time than filling out loss of time or accident reports.
To work properly, the new A92 standards need to be used as a suite. The A92.20 Design Standard provides manufacturers with guidelines to build safe, reliable machines, with certain forms of safety systems. The A92.22 Safe Use standard provides users, operators, dealers, and other stakeholders with guidelines and requirements to properly use this safe, reliable equipment. The A92.24 Training Standard binds this suite together. The Training Standard requires some level of training involvement for all stakeholders. The training standard ensures stakeholders know how to properly select and operate the safe, reliable equipment made by the manufacturer.
Logan Cunningham is JLG’s product training specialist.