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3 Important Things to Know About the Updated ANSI Standards

Articles - Jun 22

3 Important Things to Know About the Updated ANSI Standards

Rick Smith
Senior Director of Product Training
JLG Industries

Although no longer new (effective June 2020), we continue to get a lot of questions about the updated ANSI A92.20 suite of standards in the U.S. (CSA B354 in Canada).

It is important to realize that the standards continue to influence machine design, as well as training and safe use requirements, on today’s job sites — the recent updates were not a one-and-done implementation. 

One of the biggest challenges of implementing the updated standards has been effectively educating MEWP (mobile elevating work platform) owners and users about the changes outlined in the new version. For example, things that may have happened in the past without apparent consequence, such as overloading the platform even minimally, are no longer allowed to occur on MEWPs that meet the current standards. In this scenario, operators need to be aware of how the load sensing features on compliant MEWPs work to prevent the operation from continuing when an overload occurs. 
Important Updates to ANSI Standards at a Glance
Also, everyone should now be trained to the new requirements in the updated standards. Written Safe Use programs should be in place and used daily. Familiarization should be taking place on any A92.20-designed machine to cover the new controls and operating characteristics, like load sensing. And equipment owners and fleet managers should have programs in place to regularly evaluate operators.  

Yet, we find that so many are still unaware of these requirements. 

Because compliance with the standards is critical to the safe use of these machines, here are three things you should know about the updated ANSI standards.

1) Complaint MEWPs may look the same as pre-A92.20 models — but they will operate very differently. 

Under the updated standards, machines have been required to change. Many new features have been incorporated into a MEWPs’ design that will influence the machine’s operation and/or functionality, including:

  • Load sensing
  • Tilt sensing
  • Wind force
  • Function cutouts
  • Increased platform railing height

Here is a quick synopsis of these features and how they can impact machine use…

Load Sensing
Change: Machines are required to actively monitor load and interrupt normal operations/sound an alarm if overloaded.

Takeaway: You need to pay close attention to machine capacity. Jobs can no longer be completed with an improperly loaded machine, which means that you need to take the weight of accessories and tools into account when calculating a MEWP’s load.

Tilt Sensing Requirements
Change: Machines that could previously only operate on level surfaces can now be used on slopes but are required to have a tilt sensor alarm and cutout. The system will disable boom and drive functions if the incline surpasses the slope limit.

Takeaway: You need to assess the terrain your machine will need to travel over. Depending on the job site, you may need to reposition your equipment or grade the work site to complete the job because MEWPs will no longer operate when on a slope.

Wind Force Requirements
Change: To be rated for outdoor use, machines may require reduced platform capacities and/or increased weight for greater stability.

Takeaway: You need to check the MEWP you plan to use to see if it’s rated for indoor/outdoor use or indoor use only. This should be clearly marked on complaint machines.

Platform Railings
Change: The railing height requirement has been raised for small indoor scissor lifts. This means that to fit through standard doorways, taller, folding rails are needed to replace fixed, non-folding rails on select models.

Takeaway: You may need additional training on the MEWP you plan to use to familiarize yourself with how to fold railings to fit through standard doorways.

So, don’t worry, these new MEWPs are not broken — they just operate differently than previous models. Being aware of these changes and how they will impact machine use will save a lot of frustration and reduce downtime.

2) Compliance with the requirements outlined in the Safe Use program must be documented in writing and kept on file.

The updated ANSI standards specify the proper application, inspection, training, maintenance, repair and safe operation of MEWPS. And, one of the main requirements is to develop a written safe use program to guide MEWP use as it relates to job site safety

It is important to note that “written” is the keyword here. Many job sites already include the safe use of MEWPs in their tailgate or toolbox talks, addressing topics like rescue planning and workplace inspections, but there’s rarely documentation on file to prove it. In the new version of these standards, all of these discussions must now be tracked to keep records of the details and action items covered as part of the company’s documented safety programs. 

This can be done in two steps…

Step 1:
To develop an effective, safe use program that complies with the new ANSI requirements, it’s essential to perform a site risk assessment before starting a job. This written assessment should:

  • Define the task, location and timing of the work
  • Select MEWPs that best match the needs of the applications 
  • Evaluate the risks to thoroughly understand the equipment and the environment it is working in. For example:
    - MEWP-related: Working at height, staying within rated capacity
    - Job-specific: Avoiding power lines, accessing hard-to-reach areas
    - Additional: Keeping workers on the ground when possible and preventing unauthorized use of equipment
  • Identify controls to implement procedures and measures to mitigate the risks identified, such as:
    - Safe work procedures: Use correct PPE, ensure understanding of fall arrest systems
    - Proper training: For operators, occupants, supervisors and maintenance personnel
    - Smart scheduling: Organize the work in ways that minimize exposure to hazards
    - Rescue planning: May include self-rescue, assisted rescue and/or technical rescue 

Machine inspection and service records are also important to ensure a machine is compliant and safe to use.

Step 2:
These new requirements in the standards have the most impact on safety managers, supervisors and MEWP operators. Once a safety plan has been developed, it should be shared with everyone who will be on-site during the work. 

The updated standards outline new requirements for many roles as they relate to a safe use program:

  • Operator: Is trained and authorized to operate the MEWP
  • Occupant: Has knowledge of MEWP use and safety, including fall protection systems
  • Supervisor: Monitors use of a MEWP to ensure the safety plan is followed
  • Technician: Performs MEWP maintenance in line with manufacturer’s requirements


3) You may need to recertify your training certifications to meet the requirements in the updated standards.

As you know, the updated North American standards were published with some new terminology. For example, the term AWP, or Aerial Work Platform, is no longer used. Instead, aerial access equipment is now called Mobile Elevating Work Platforms, or MEWPs. 

But, it’s not only the name that has changed for this equipment in the updated ANSI standards — their classification did too. 

For example, in the previous version of the standards, AWPs were classified by product types (think in terms of boom lifts and scissor lifts), and operators were trained and qualified on the product type they were using. In the updated standards, though, MEWPs are now classified differently. They are now being referenced in Groups A and B with Types 1, 2 or 3. 

A MEWP is classified in Group A or B depending on where the center of the platform is relative to the machine chassis.

  • Group A: MEWPs with platforms that move vertically but stay inside the tipping lines.
  • Group B: All other MEWPs, typically boom-type MEWPs where the platform extends past the machine’s chassis.

A MEWP is classified as Type 1, 2 or 3 depending on how the machine travels.

  • Type 1: Can only travel in the stowed position
  • Type 2: Can travel elevated but is controlled from the chassis 
  • Type 3: Can travel elevated but is controlled from the work platform

And last, but not least, operator training requirements for MEWPs in the updated standards aren’t grandfathered in from the previous version. To comply with the current standards (published in June 2020), operators must now be trained and qualified on each Group and Type of MEWP they operate. 

That means that anyone who was qualified under the previous version of the standards may not be qualified under the updated standards. For example, training that was provided five years ago or more is no longer valid, and an operator’s certification may not be up-to-date with the newly published standards without undergoing additional training. 

So, how do you know if you — or your company — are compliant with the current standards?
The best way for individuals or businesses to check their compliance to the updated ANSI standards is by tracking down records that indicate:

  • Which machines have been added to an equipment fleet in the last five years (newer equipment will be equipped with required features);
  • Which operators have been familiarized with the compliant equipment, and which ones haven’t been;
  • When people were last trained, including operators, occupants and site supervisors;
  • And, what the company’s safe use program is for MEWPs.

This documentation will hold the answers needed to determine what has been done, as well as what still needs to be done to comply with the updated standards. From there, plans can be developed and implemented to make sure everyone’s training adheres to the new requirements.

Compliance with these standards is critical to job site safety. That’s why it’s so important that everyone in the aerial industry ecosystem, from OEMs to equipment owners to equipment operators, keeps talking about the requirements in the ANSI standards. To learn more about what you need to know about the updated ANSI standards, click here.

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