Does OSHA Require Aerial Lift Training?

February 8, 2022

While OSHA has several guidelines in place to ensure a safe workplace, required aerial lift training is not among them. OSHA instead enforces standards set forth by the American National Standards Institute, which instructs all aerial lift operators to follow specific safety regulations. OSHA can issue costly fines on ANSI’s behalf if an operator or facility neglects to follow these, whether on purpose or accidentally.

What Is OSHA?

OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, part of the United States Department of Labor. They implement, enforce and maintain various standards and restrictions for all national workplaces, regardless of industry.

OSHA’s formation resulted from the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Since then, the administration has introduced rigorous training and education programs for employers and operators, plus safety assistance and access to helpful resources for ongoing learning.

While OSHA generally applies to private-sector entities, the law requires some public-sector employers and operators to follow OSHA standards.


ANSI is an independent, nonprofit organization that oversees specific standards, systems and assessments across various industries. Other countries widely accept these, helping U.S. companies maintain consistency, safety and conformity to all relevant operation and production guidelines.
OSHA often adopts ANSI guidelines and incorporates them into overarching OSHA guidelines for specific industries. In the case of aerial lift operation, OSHA relies on the ANSI A92.22 MEWP Safe-Use Standard, which requires employers to take all necessary steps and precautions to ensure a safe workplace for employees.

These include:

  • Adequate operator training
  • Equipment inspection, maintenance and repair
  • Equipment replacement as needed
  • Enforced guidelines for safe aerial lift operation

Because each workplace has different needs and external factors to contend with, employers are responsible for adapting these guidelines to the best of their ability for each situation.


MEWP and Occupational Safety

MEWP refers to all mobile elevating work platforms, including aerial lifts, aerial work platforms, vertical mast lifts, scissor lifts, cherry pickers and similar equipment.
Each individual involved in the use and operation of MEWP should have the appropriate training and certification. Relevant parties to train include:

  • The person ordering the equipment and scheduling parts maintenance
  • The scheduling team
  • The on-site foreman
  • Anyone who may operate a MEWP or work closely with them in any capacity

No one should ever operate a MEWP without additional certified personnel available on the ground at all times in case of an emergency. This person should have the knowledge and experience to assist if the operator can’t lower themselves to the ground safely.

Does OSHA Require Annual Inspections?

ANSI 92.6-6.7 requirements require all MEWP owners to arrange annual inspections for aerial platforms no less than once every 13 months. You should consider implementing more frequent formal and informal examinations if the equipment experiences rugged conditions and extreme environments or if it’s an older model.

The inspector must be a certified, industry-trained, qualified mechanic with knowledge of your equipment’s specific make and model. The inspection should be thorough and follow all manufacturer recommendations.

Some areas of inspection might include:

  • Fuel and hydraulics systems
  • Electrical systems and wiring
  • Tilt sensors
  • Engine health
  • General wear and tear
  • Emergency controls
  • Instructions and signage
  • Steering and control mechanisms
  • Tires and wheels
  • Platform structures

According to OSHA, no operator or owner can use or promote the use of an aerial lift until they have corrected all noted concerns. A reinspection may be necessary. Keep a record of all inspection, maintenance and repair documents for each piece of equipment.


How to Obtain Training and What It Consists Of

Wellbuilt Equipment Inc. is a member of International Powered Access Foundation, which lets us offer aerial lift training for multiple MEWP types, including scissor, boom, mast and compacted track lifts. Aerial training is available at our on-site training facility for seven people per workday. Some parts of the training may also be online. Average class sizes range from one to 20 people, depending on your team, and we are happy to accommodate hands-on driving instructions.

Classes are about four to five hours long, and we can also bring them to your office, warehouse or shop if our on-site location isn’t possible for you. All classes end with a hands-on demonstration of proficiency for each operator.

Many IPAF members issue formal PAL Cards to prove the holder has completed MEWP training with an IPAF partner.

Industry Use Example

Correct MEWP use involves knowing how to raise, lower, navigate, maintain, inspect, operate and troubleshoot all lifts. Safely operating MEWPs is especially critical for arborists, commercial landscapers, contractors and others who work in the tree industry.

Accident statistics show nearly one in five of all MEWP-related deaths involve tree workers. Ensuring thorough and adequate MEWP training and safety standards is one way to combat these risks.

Some safety tips for MEWP operators in this industry include the following:

  • All operators must wear personal fall protection.
  • Never permit operation in low-visibility conditions.
  • Be mindful of environmental factors, like weather and wildlife, that could create a risk for operators.
  • Always have a trained MEWP professional nearby to aid in an emergency.
  • Perform a thorough risk assessment of the site and equipment before using a lift.
  • Train operators and ground workers on the correct way to avoid falling debris and safe positioning on the platform.
  • Know your lift’s specifications, including dimensions, load capacities and weight restrictions.
  • Check the MEWP regularly while in operation to confirm there is no ground sinkage.
  • Never operate damaged or malfunctioning MEWP.

Due to the nature of tree care work, your team may need supplemental or additional MEWP safety training.

Contact Wellbuilt Equipment Inc. to Learn More

Aerial lifts bring versatility to worksites and are an invaluable resource for multiple industries, including tree care. Regular operator training and equipment inspections are essential for the safety of your team and your investment.

At Wellbuilt Equipment Inc., we offer on-site or off-site aerial equipment inspections per manufacturer recommendations. Each inspection comes with a detailed report to help you keep your equipment operational.

You can also take advantage of our IPAF membership by enrolling your crew in an aerial lift training program. We recommend any individual coming into contact with a MEWP or working closely with its operation, including schedulers and inventory managers, take a training class to prepare for the risks of MEWP operation.

Contact a member of our team today to see how we can help your employees stay safe and productive.

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