Aerial lifts, also called MEWPs (mobile elevating work platforms) are great for completing a bevy of workplace tasks. That being said, you must exercise caution before allowing your employees to operate at the helm. For an employee to legally and responsibly operate an aerial lift, they must obtain the proper certification. Although there are key differences between aerial lifts and forklifts, many of the same principles regarding safety, training, and certification still apply.
Providing potential aerial lift operators with the proper means of training and obtaining certification is not just a formality; it is an essential part of the hiring process that should be a top priority whenever you take on new employees. More importantly it’s required by law! Below, we will go through the basics of how to get your certification to operate an aerial lift safely and efficiently.
Why Certification Is Necessary
The reason certification is so crucial for heavy equipment like aerial lifts is because of how dangerous they are in the wrong or untrained hands. Employee deaths or injuries involving aerial lifts happen every year due to careless situations. Accidents such as employees falling from the lift, tipping the lift over, and being crushed by the lift are just a few of the common accidents that can occur when the aerial lift operator isn’t conducting work responsibly. Operators must have certification for these vehicles to these accidents become less common.
These accidents also illustrate how important it is, after an operator receives training/certification, for you or another experienced employee to monitor their performance on the work floor. In fact, you may want to consider providing employees with refresher courses throughout the year in addition to the initial training course they receive when first hired. In some cases, aerial lift operators can become too comfortable or neglectful and wind up making simple mistakes that result in dangerous accidents which can cause severe injuries or even death.
Getting comfortable in the workplace typically is not an issue, because any employee should feel comfortable in their work environment. To be more specific, the problem is that an employee can get complacent, doing something their way instead of the way that was properly laid out to them during the training process. Just because their way works at first does not mean it cannot lead to accidents later down the line.
By having refresher courses as well as spot checking/monitoring the performance of your employees, you can set individuals back on the right path when necessary. Or, on the other hand, an employee can reach out to you if they feel like they need a refresher on the basics of aerial lift operation. Do your best to keep your entire team on track.
As the employer, you should never tolerate improper use of machines like aerial lifts in the workplace. Simply ignoring problems like reckless lift operators is just going to lead to more, potentially worse problems, and could put other employees in danger. Periodically offering a refresher course is going to help you maintain a team of operators that are perceptive, efficient, and safe.
How To Get Certification
Now that you have a better understanding of why certification is so critical when it comes to aerial lift operators, we will teach you how to help your employees obtain it once you hire them. In order for potential operators to obtain certification for an aerial lift, the process is somewhat similar to getting your normal driver’s license. First, you have to complete a written or online test. After an operator passes the first test, they can move onto the hands-on training course.
The test employees need to pass in order to move onto the hands-on test requires more than just business owners writing up a list of questions themselves. On the other hand, business owners cannot obtain a test from any random provider. If you are on the hunt for a means of certification for your employees, seek out an OSHA-approved training course.
Once you team up with an OSHA-compliant training or certification provider, they can give you the right test for your employee to complete; simple as that. Specifically, you should team up with a training or certification provider that will conduct training on your premises, which is where the employee is going to be working once the training is complete.
Not only is this more convenient, but it is also going to help employees become familiar and comfortable with their workplace in the next step: the hands-on test. Instead of sending employees into the test blind, you should provide them with a means of learning the ropes, such as with a Genie operator training kit. This will help them grasp the basics of operating these pieces of heavy equipment with ease and clarity.
Once an operator-in-training passes the written test, they can move onto the hands-on portion of the certification process. This test is exactly what it sounds like; the employee has to put their skills and knowledge to the test at the helm of an aerial lift.
Once the instructor passes the operator, the operator can start operating the aerial lift only after a company representative communicates with the operator and states that they can indeed operate that piece of equipment. It is important to note that some operators may require additional observation by an experienced operator, to become a more proficient operator. As we touched on above, it is incredibly beneficial to do hands-on training on-site at the facility in which the employee will be working day-in and day-out.
By making the effort to train this way, not only will the operator learn how to operate an aerial lift, but they can also learn how to operate that lift throughout their new workplace. That way, when the employee officially begins their first day as a lift operator, they will feel right at home.
Now that you know how to get your certification to operate an aerial lift, you can ensure your employees go through the right channels to get the best training possible. Proper lift training, or equipment training of any kind, should never be an afterthought in your workplace. By ensuring your employees go through the right training, you can maintain a work environment that is productive, comfortable, and most importantly, safe for everyone involved.