Recent updates to ANSI Standards require manufacturers to include a built-in load sensing device on every mobile elevating work platform (MEWP), manufactured after early spring of 2020. This load sensing device will automatically monitor the weight being put in the platform and disable functions if the load is above the specified load limit. The aerial work platform can be moved only after the overload condition is removed. The functions that are limited by automatic load sensing devices vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so make sure to read the specific operators manual of the aerial lift that you are required to operate.
These new standards do not affect existing MEWP’s designed and built before the new ANSI Standards took effect.
For older machines, we still need to use common sense and planning.
Remember, everything placed in the platform contributes to the total platform capacity and must be assessed against the machine’s maximum allowable platform load.
The maximum platform capacity of every MEWP can be found in the operators manual specific to the make and model of the aerial work platform being operated, and on the data plate attached to the machine.
The operator will need to accurately assess the weight of personnel, tools and anything else that is brought onto the aerial lift platform.
Be sure to check the operator’s manual and only use the machine as the manufacturer intended. This means only lifting material if the machine has been designed for that purpose. Most MEWP’s have been designed to lift personnel and light tools up to where work is needed. Anything you bring into the platform that increases the surface or sail area of the platform, greatly decreases machine stability.
There are two ways to overload the platform. Too much weight in the platform before it leaves the ground and adding weight to the platform once it’s in the air. So be aware of anything you add to the platform while performing a job.
Also, when assessing MEWP safe use planning, make sure to consider the support surface the aerial lift is to be operated on to make sure it can support the weight of the machine and everything on board.
The best way for an operator to avoid overloading an MEWP is by accurately understanding the weight of everything being placed in the platform.
And remember…an aerial lift operator is ultimately responsible for his or her own safety.