This is your complete guide to the different types of MEWPs (formerly known as aerial lifts).
In it, you'll learn:
- What exactly a MEWP is
- What the new ANSI standards for MEWPs are
- The different types of MEWP along with examples of each
- How to choose the right MEWP for your needs
- And much more!
Let's dive in!
What Is ANSI?
"ANSI” stands for the American National Standards Institute.
And what do they do?
They’re a private, non-profit organization that develops design and usage standards for many kinds of industries.
And among those industries is aerial lifts.
Now, the purpose of this article is to make you familiar with the new ANSI standards for aerial lifts.
So let’s go through some frequently asked questions about ANSI to start.
When Was the Last Update to the ANSI Aerial Lift Standards?
The last major changes happened in 2006.
When Did ANSI Develop the New Standards for Aerial Lifts?
ANSI developed the "new ANSI A92 standard" in 2018 and published them in 2019.
And they became effective in 2020.
Why Did ANSI Update the Aerial Lift Standards?
They were updated to:
Improve the safe use of aerial lifts
Improve aerial lift training
Improve the efficiency of aerial lift designs
Simplify aerial lift classification
Specify requirements for aerial lift inspections, training, and repair and maintenance
Increase competitiveness on the global market
What Do the New ANSI Rules Cover?
The new ANSI rules replaced A92.3, A92.5, A92.6, A92.8.
These standards focus on operators, owners, manufacturers, dealers, and other users of aerial lifts.
The new rules are described in the following ANSI standards:
A92.20, covering equipment design
A92.22, covering equipment safe use
A92.24, covering operator training
One of the key changes to the ANSI aerial lift standards is the terminology used to refer to aerial lifts.
Previously, aerial work platform (AWP) was the name for scissor lifts, boom lifts, and other elevated work platforms.
Now, the new term is MEWP.
So, what does it mean?
MEWP stands for “mobile elevated work platforms.”
We’ll cover exactly what equipment qualifies under this term in the next section.
Is a Cherry Picker a MEWP?
Yes, it is.
Often, people refer to boom lifts as cherry pickers.
But other times people refer to order pickers as cherry pickers as well.
In either case, a cherry picker is technically a MEWP - though they belong to different classes of MEWPs.
Keep reading to find out which classes those are.
Before the update that introduced the term MEWP, aerial lifts were categorized by lift types.
For example, types of lifts included scissor and boom lifts.
But under the new ANSI standards, MEWPs are categorized differently.
There are now two main ways to classify MEWPs:
- By group
- By type
Let’s go through each classification.
MEWP Classification By Group
A MEWP’s group is determined by its platform location with regard to the tipping line.
Not sure what the tipping line is?
It’s the area bounded by the machine’s wheels or outriggers.
Following this definition, there are two MEWP groups:
Group A MEWPs have a platform that moves vertically while staying inside the tipping lines of the machine at all times.
In other words, the platform stays directly above the chassis and never extends beyond it.
This group includes all other MEWPs that are not in Group A.
That is, the work platform of Group B mobile elevating work platforms do extend beyond the tipping lines of the machine.
MEWPs Classification By Type
Now that we’re clear on group ANSI classifications, let’s turn to type.
The MEWP type is based on how the machine travels horizontally.
In other words, type has to do with how a MEWP can drive or travel along the ground.
Now, how many types of MEWPs are there?
Answer: There are 3.
Let’s go through each type.
Type 1 MEWPs
A Type 1 mobile elevating work platform can only move in the stowed position.
That means the platform has to be lowered completely before you can move the machine.
Type 2 MEWPs
Type 2 MEWPs have two features:
- They can move while the platform is elevated
- Their movement is controlled from the chassis (as opposed to within the work platform)
Type 3 MEWPs
These are much like Type 2 MEWPs.
But whereas a Type 2 MEWP’s movement is controlled from the chassis, a Type 3 MEWP’s movement is controlled from the work platform.
It's important to note that each MEWP group can contain each of the different MEWP types as well.
In other words, a Group A MEWP can be Type 1, Type 2, or Type 3.
And the same for Group B MEWPs, for a total of 6 MEWP types.
Now, let’s cover some examples of all the group/type combinations to make this new classification system clearer.
Group A, Type 1
A Genie 30-foot vertical man lift is an example of a Type 1, Group A MEWP.
Because it has the following characteristics:
The platform moves vertically while staying inside the tipping lines at all times (Group A)
You can only move the lift itself when the platform is completely lowered into the stowed position (Type 1)
Group A, Type 2
A walkie stacker equipped with a personnel lifting platform is an example of a Group A, Type 2 MEWP.
The reason is again two-fold:
The platform lifts vertically within the tipping lines (Group A)
The machine can be moved while the platform is elevated and movement is controlled from the chassis (Type 2)
Group A, Type 3
The common electric scissor lift is an example of a 3A MEWP.
This is because Type 3 Group A MEWPs feature:
A vertically-lifting platform contained with the tipping lines (Group A)
A platform that can be moved while elevated and is controlled from within the platform (Type 3)
Group B, Type 1
A boom lift with outriggers is a Group B, Type 1 MEWP.
The platform extends beyond the tipping point (Group B)
The machine can only be moved in the stowed position (Type 1)
Group B, Type 2
An underbridge platform machine is a Group B, Type 2 MEWP.
This is because:
The platform extends beyond the tipping point (Group B)
The platform movement is controlled from the chassis of the lift, which is located on the bridge’s road surface (Type 2)
Group B, Type 3
Finally, what is a 3B MEWP?
An example of the 3B MEWP classification is the common articulating boom lift.
This is because:
The platform extends beyond the tipping point (Group B)
The platform can move while in the air and it’s controlled from the platform itself (Type 3)
Besides the new name, the new ANSI standards also include the following changes to:
Let’s go through the highlights for each of these aspects of MEWPs.
Safety Planning: Risk Assessment and Rescue Plans
Surveying the area where a MEWP is to operate has always been part of the procedure for operating these types of equipment.
That said, ANSI has created new guidelines for this process.
A Summary of Safety Planning Assessment Requirements
A summary of the basic requirements for developing a safe use plan for MEWPs is as follows:
Site risk and surface assessment to help identify hazards, evaluate risk level, and develop control and communication measures
Developing rescue plans for man and machine's safe rescue in case of an emergency
How to choose the right MEWP for the task at hand
Having trained and certified supervisors to monitor operation and performance and to ensure compliance with applicable standards
Prevention of inappropriate and unauthorized use of MEWPs
Safety plan for persons not involved in MEWP operation
Proper task and work documentation resources and record retention
How to Develop a Workplace Risk Assessment for MEWPs
Wondering how to go about developing a risk assessment before operating a MEWP?
Here’s a basic run-down of just that:
Visit the work location, preferably with site personnel or their representatives
Identify the potential hazards within the area and site
Identify risk elimination or mitigation measures and procedures and implement them
Plan safe work procedures, including contingencies, for the specific task
Review the risk assessment and rescue plan to identify any changes in worksite or environment components and modify them
As you do the above, you’ll want to look for specific hazards that could affect the safe operation of the MEWP.
This can include:
Holes or drop-offs, including those concealed by mud, water, mud, etc.
Ground or floor obstructions like bumps, electric cables, and debris
Confined spaces that MEWPs cannot fit into
Overhead obstructions such as telephone wires and electrical conductors
Hazardous locations or conditions, including wind and bad weather
Weak surfaces that are unable to sustain the weight of the MEWP
Traffic hazards, moving objects, and persons (authorized and unauthorized)
How to Create a Safety/Rescue Plan
Another part of safety planning for MEWPs includes developing a rescue plan.
This is key particularly because MEWPs are designed to operate at height.
And mishaps are amplified when people are up in the air.
So, to ensure you have a solid rescue plan in place, you should do the following:
Identify the MEWP's operation-specific fall hazards or risks
Identify risk elimination or mitigation measures and procedures
Provide training on self-rescue (by the involved person); assisted rescue (by other persons in the work area); and technical rescue (by emergency services)
Training: Operators, Occupants, Supervisors, and Maintenance Personnel
Another important change to ANSI’s MEWP standards is in regards to training.
Specifically, ANSI’s new rules require training to include not just operators, but also other key personnel working near MEWPs.
- Maintenance personnel
Let’s go through what those new requirements entail for each person.
Training for Operators
The first thing to know is that MEWP operators must undergo training according to the updated standards.
That means that even if operators were fully trained under the old standards, they’ll still need new training to qualify as a MEWP operator.
This also brings up the question: What type of MEWP does your operator training qualify you to operate?
The answer is only the type of MEWP you’ve received training on.
In other words, if you’re qualified to operate a Group A, Type 1 MEWP, you are not necessarily qualified to operate a Group B, Type 1 MEWP.
Instead, training must be specific to the type of MEWP you’re operating.
So, what should that training consist of?
The terminology and applications of MEWPs
The responsibilities of parties involved with MEWPs
How to identify and avoid safety hazards
How to safely operate MEWPs
Hands-on training and evaluation
Now, there are many MEWP training programs to choose from.
But we’d recommend our MEWP Operator Training program.
Check out Conger's OSHA-compliant MEWP operator safety training course
We cover all the topics above and more.
And best yet, it’s fully compliant with the new MEWP standards from ANSI.
Training for Occupants
An occupant is simply anyone who’s in a MEWP platform but isn’t an operator.
So, what do the new ANSI standards require for MEWP occupants?
They require that occupants know:
The basics of MEWP safe use
How to operate the MEWP controls if the operator cannot
How to use fall protection along with the location of all fall protection anchors on the MEWP
How their actions can affect the MEWP's stability
The safe use of assigned MEWP accessories
How to follow site-specific work procedures related to the MEWP's operation
Any hazards related to the task at hand and how to avoid them
What the various MEWP manufacturer instructions and warnings mean
Training for Supervisors
ANSI has also included new rules for supervisors of MEWP operators.
Some highlights of those new rules are as follows:
How to select the correct MEWP for the work to be performed
Understanding MEWP rules, regulations, and standards, including safe use as defined in ANSI A92.22
How to identify potential risks and hazards related to MEWP usage
How to protect man and machine against identified hazards
Training for Maintenance Technicians
Finally, maintenance technicians that work on MEWPs are required to abide by some new rules.
These new rules primarily concern the requirement that only qualified persons can train maintenance and repair personnel.
That includes aspects such as how to inspect and maintain MEWPs according to the manufacturer’s recommendations and ANSI’s standards.
New MEWP Design Requirements
ANSI’s new MEWP rules also concern the folks who manufacture this equipment.
Consequently, they’re not as important to be aware of for operators, supervisors, and users.
But, it can’t hurt to know about them.
So, let’s go through what some of the new design requirements are.
Platform Load Sensing
Platform load sensors (also called “overload systems” or “load sense systems”) gauge the weight of operators and equipment in the work platform.
And they only allow the equipment to operate if the total load is within its rated capacity.
This equipment is now required to be installed on all newly-manufactured MEWPs.
As a consequence, they’ll help prevent overloading and all the ills that can come with that.
Chassis Angle Sensors
Also called “Dynamic Terrain Sensing,” these components measure the tilt angle of the equipment's chassis during operation.
When the chassis angle reaches the operational limit, such as on a slope, the equipment alerts the operator.
In addition, the sensor automatically restricts some boom and drive functions.
This leaves the operator no choice but to safely return the equipment to a terrain within its operating range.
And since tip-overs can easily happen when exceeding the slope limit, this newly-required feature can help prevent serious accidents.
The new ANSI standards also have provisions for developing smaller, lightweight MEWPs with an indoor-only rating.
Because these MEWPs are to be used indoors only, they won’t be subjected to risky outdoor conditions such as wind speed.
Other Design Changes
A few other new design requirements include:
Toe guards must be installed on work platform entrances
Chain gates are no longer allowed
Improved machine labeling and marking
That's it: The complete guide to MEWP types.
New, we'd like to hear from you.
Do you currently operate a MEWP?
Which MEWP type do you operate?
Please share with us in the comment section.
Justin Simpkins says
Hello, I am the Budget Analyst for the OSHA Training Institute in Arlington Heights, IL and conducting market research for a future purchase. We are looking for a rough terrain and aerial lift simulator, that are compliant with the Buy American Act. Is this something you can assist with?
The Buy American Act requires Federal agencies to procure domestic materials and products. Two conditions must be present for the Buy American Act to apply: (1) the procurement must be intended for public use within the United States; and (2) the items to be procured or the materials from which they are manufactured must be present in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available commercial quantities of a satisfactory quality.
Alex Hilke says
We’d be happy to help you with your research into equipment simulators. I forwarded your message and email address to our sales team, and someone will be in contact with you soon. Thank you for reaching out!
Isn’t it true that the ANSI Manual of Responsibilities is no longer required to be in the weather-resistant compartment with the Operator’s Manual? I believe that requirement was dropped in 2020.
Alex Hilke says
Hi Gary, Please follow this link for accurate information pertaining to MEWP ANSI regulations: ANSI Manual of Responsibilities: Critical Updates You Need to Know. Thanks for reaching out!