Loretta Foley, director of United Rentals’ United Academy, explains how technology is changing the way training is delivered.
Over the past few years in North America, the aerial industry has increasingly prioritized greater access to operator and safety training. As access has improved, training has become more efficient, affordable and engaging.
Now, training is becoming even more imperative. With the implementation of the revised ANSI A92 standards on our doorstep, it is time to prepare for one of the biggest impacts: the training required for boom and scissor lifts, also known as MEWPs.
The 92.22 and 92.24 Difference
The revised standards 92.22 and 92.24 are the first of their kind for ANSI in the access industry. They will usher in changes that require operators, as well as occupants, to understand stability, fall protection, hazards, the safe use of MEWP accessories, site-specific work procedures, manufacturer’s warnings and instructions, site risk assessment and overall knowledge of MEWP operation.
Additionally, supervisors who monitor operator performance will need to train and become familiar with the new standards. They will need to learn about proper MEWP selection, applicable rules and regulations and potential hazards, and become familiar with manufacturers’ operating manuals.
Crossing the Digital Divide
According to the new standards, online theory is now a recognized option for operator training. The traditional method of spending days in a classroom learning about safe equipment operation is quickly becoming replaced with blended learning (online theory combined with a live practical evaluation.) Technology has improved on the old methods and millennials are dominating the workforce with their digital know-how.
Digital learning is a genuinely superior method when done correctly, but it isn’t simply a matter of being “online.” A U.S. Department of Education study reports that “online learning can be enhanced by giving learners control of their interactions with media and prompting learner reflection.”
The value of this approach is apparent in the industry today. United Rentals and virtual reality (VR) company Serious Labs developed United Academy Premium Online Training using VR simulation. This training has made it easier and more convenient for employers to satisfy the need for compliance while reducing cost and risk, increasing productivity and improving worker safety.
VR simulation offers hands-on training that mirrors the operator experience on a construction or industrial site and delivers it in a safe and controlled environment.
United Rentals’ new curriculum, made available through United Academy, offers high-quality training that does more than just check the box for employer compliance. The industry’s largest aerial rental provider has taken classroom and online training to a new level with content that employs cutting-edge delivery methods, such as interactive games and 3D-simulated environments and workplace scenarios.
Blended Learning for MEWPs
A key benefit of blended learning course for MEWPs is the shorter, more manageable time it takes to complete the training while enhancing the competency and comprehension of the operator. With this program, employers can be assured of compliance while gaining a safer workforce:
• Operators develop jobsite problem-solving skills in a realistic environment by using the latest gaming graphics and interactive technology.
• Operators learn through multi-sensory experiences of watching, doing and listening, which suits different learning styles.
• Course content for United is developed by instructional designers and United Rentals Master Safety Trainers with years of industry and training experience.
• Online program delivery ensures consistent, effective delivery of topics.
• Just-In-Time online delivery of training and convenient hands-on instruction at 1,000+ United Rentals locations cuts training time by up to 45 percent and frees up HSE officers, many of whom spend as much as 20 percent of their time on traditional training.
• With online training, employees can complete general theory training on their own time and at their own pace, which means less downtime and productivity loss for employers and more convenience for employees.
• The assessment process is designed to verify each operator’s competency. Course results and a certificate of completion, along with the United Academy wallet card, is issued upon course completion. The QR code on the wallet card can be easily scanned with any mobile device to access the student’s training profile and demonstrate operator certification and proficiency.
The Future of Training is Now
United Rentals is North America’s largest provider of construction and industrial rental equipment, and an industry leader in jobsite safety and compliance. The company trains thousands of workers each year in jobsite and operator safety, OSHA certifications and more, offering an extensive list of courses delivered by a team of professional trainers or online.
United Academy classroom and blended learning training can be completed onsite or at one of hundreds of participating branches throughout the United States and Canada. Courses are available in a classroom setting as well as online, providing 24/7 access to training without conflicting with the workday. Many equipment operator courses are available in Spanish and French, in addition to English.
United Rentals’ culture of innovation encourages the exploration of leading-edge safety initiatives. One of the company’s latest training investments is the launch of a pilot program “Training Centers of the Future” in partnership with Serious Labs. This groundbreaking initiative is expected to produce the most technologically advanced and immersive MEWP training experience using a state-of-the-art MEWP operator training simulator.
Elevating the Level of Safety
In essence, the new ANSI A92 standards will put North America in line with the same equipment standards in Europe, thus bringing everyone closer to a global standard. This will allow for a consistent approach not only to equipment manufacturing and operating, but in training across the board.
Global consistency is a progressive step forward as the industry –– and particularly large employers –– become more multinational. More importantly, the new ANSI standards bring forth a change in thinking about safety in North America. They focus industry employers on the next level of safety and ask what we expect of our employees, of our partners and of ourselves.