The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) recently provided some updated guidelines related to aerial lifts. First, Aerial Work Platforms (AWPs) - now to be called Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWPs) - refer to the various types of equipment associated with the aerial platform and access industry. MEWPs are used in a multitude of industries and on an endless number of job sites. When a company performs work at potentially hazardous heights, MEWPs are critical to the safety of both workers and worksites. At the same time, MEWPs are large, powerful machines that require a set of design, training and safety standards to minimize the potential for property damage or injuries resulting from improper use. These new ANSI standards for aerial lifts are collectively update the existing ASNI A92 standards.
Overview of the ANSI A92 Standards
ANSI, also known as the American National Standards Institute, describes itself as “a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting the U.S. voluntary standards and conformity assessment system and strengthening its impact, both domestically and internationally ... ANSI is committed to enhancing the global competitiveness of U.S. business and quality of life by providing a framework for fair standards development and quality conformity assessment systems, and safeguarding their integrity.” Accordingly, ANSI is the organization who dictates the manufacturing, testing, usage and safety requirements for MEWPs in the United States through a set of norms and guidelines called the A92 series of standards. ANSI also appointed a Secretariat for the A92 series of standards, the non-profit Scaffold and Access Industry Association (SAIA), who is responsible for both forming the A92 Main Committee and the timely publication of the standards and any subsequent revisions or edits.
The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) further explains the ANSI standards for aerial lifts:
“The A92 standards from ANSI and the Scaffold and Access Industry Association (SAIA) aim to help manufacturers, employers, operators, trainers, dealers/distributors, owners, regulators and other stakeholders ensure that these devices are designed and manufactured correctly, operated safely and maintained properly. Applying these standards can prevent worker injuries and eliminate incidents that can cause property damage, disrupt operations and cause project delays.”
Effective Date of Changes to the ANSI Standards
The updated ANSI A92 set of standards were published in the US on December 10, 2018. The changes were originally slated to go into effect December 2019 but the SAIA ASC A92 Main Committee delayed the effective date of the changes three months, to March 1, 2020. The changes are a long time coming considering the last set of new standards for aerial lifts were released over twelve years ago and were not as robust as others put in place around the world. MEWP manufacturer JLG agrees:
“The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) create standards that govern the design and use of aerial work platforms across North America. The last big change to these standards took place in 2006, so it was time for an update. New ANSI standards for the U.S. were published in December 2018, while new CSA standards for Canada were published in May 2017. Drafted to be similar to international standards, like AS/NZS, CE, GB and ISO, these changes better align North American manufacturers like JLG with the global market.”
Who will be impacted by these ANSI standards changes?
A significant aspect of the changes made to the ANSI A92 standards is the update to both the use and design of MEWPs. Consequently, the new standards will not only affect owners and operators of aerial lift equipment but will also impact manufacturers, retailers, supervisors, as well as lessors, lessees and brokers. As a matter of fact, Genie, one of the leading global manufacturers of MEWPs, has already produced a new line of booms that adhere to the new standards. It is worth noting, however, that companies using old machines do not need to retrofit their equipment to meet the new ASNI 92 manufacturing standards.
Summary of Changes and Challenges
The new suite of ANSI A92 standards consist of the following three distinct criteria for MEWPs:
- ANSI A92.20-2018: Design, Calculations, Safety Requirements and Test Methods for Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs)
- ANSI A92.22-2018: Safe Use of Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs)
- ANSI A92.24-2018: Training Requirements for the Use, Operation, Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs)
Additionally, the new suite of ANSI A92 standards will replace the current standards listed below:
- ANSI A92.3-2006 (R2014): Manually Propelled Elevating Aerial Platforms
- ANSI A92.5-2006 (R2014): Boom-Supported Elevating Work Platforms
- ANSI A92.6-2006 (R2014): Self-Propelled Elevating Work Platforms
- ANSI A92.8-2006 (R2011): Vehicle-Mounted Bridge Inspection and Maintenance Devices
It is clear to see that every aspect of MEWP usage is changing from the actual equipment itself to user training and company operations.
In fact, all of the updates relate to one of the principles below:
- Equipment Classification and Terminology
- Design Standards
- Safe Use & Planning
- Risk Assessments & Written Rescue Plans
- Training (Operators, Supervisors, Occupants, Maintenance & Repair Personnel)
For a complete overview of key changes, The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) put out guides for both users and dealers of MEWPs. The full set of standards can also be purchased from the SAIA Store.
With such a huge overhaul of the existing set of ANSI standards for aerial lifts, there are bound to be some implementational challenges. It is important to consider, the standards will affect all organizations equally, big or small, that utilize MEWP equipment at any time, whether occasionally or daily. Implementing the changes could require a significant amount of resources for a small firm that only rents a MEWP from time to time. Challenges may also arise for companies who manage a mixed fleet of old and new machines that differ in design. Nevertheless, regardless of initial hurdles, it is clear all these changes are guaranteed to have a positive impact on the safety of every aspect of the aerial lift community.