Joe the Operator

Joe the Operator

The Scaffold and Access Industry Association (SAIA) recently launched its "pilot run" of their forthcoming operator training program for aerial work platforms (AWPs).

It debuted following the SAIA Annual Convention in Huntington Beach in July. The presentation focused on equipment covered in ANSI A92. 3, A92.5 and A92.6 generically referred to as "Pusharounds, Boom and Scissor Lifts."

It will further include trailer mounted boom lifts that are included in ANSI A92.2 (the program does not include truck mounted vehicle lifts).

The announcement comes right after the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) and the SAIA reaffirmed their alliance to work together in "every way possible" to promote safety in the use of powered access equipment throughout the US and Canada. IPAF promotes the safe and effective use of powered access equipment worldwide through training, assisting with legislation and standards and much more.

"IPAF 's members welcome any initiative that will boost the pool of trained operators available to employers," said Tim Whiteman, chief executive officer of IPAF. "The alliance between IPAF and SAIA means that SAIA [accredited training institutes] have a privileged route to becoming an AWPT training center which allows them to issue PAL Cards - these prove that the operator has successfully completed an audited training program that is delivered by all major manufacturers and recognized by contractors around the world."

Bob Backer, senior partner at Blazing Technologies, and Rich Stollery of GAR Equipment, were solicited to develop the program. Backer, previously with Pettibone Corp., Grove Manlift and Terex Aerial Work Platforms (Genie), has more than three decades of product development, ANSI A92 standards creation, best practice involvement and operator training experience.

Backer partnered with Stollery, safety director at GAR Equipment, who has 15 years of AWP experience and has personally trained more than 8,000 operators during his tenure at GAR.

The program has essentially reshuffled traditional training programs into a "building block" approach categorized into three (3) key elements: Awareness, Appreciation and Understanding of AWPs.

There are traditional boiler plate "introduction" and "closure" elements that serve as the bookends for the program, but the presentation echoes one key objective: "Don't be a statistic! Get operator training!"

This theme transcends throughout the entire program and is emphasized at every opportunity. One unique feature that has been incorporated is "Joe the Operator" (JTO), an animated caricature that is utilized to deliver the keynote message to operators by demonstrating the hazard situations that can cause catastrophic accidents. This is done via animation with JTO as he demonstrates selected situations and interacts with the audience. It is felt that through animations and having such a "person" characterize these events, it will likely leave a stronger subliminal message to both younger as well as more experienced operators. The JTO character will ultimately be expanded having a counterpart referred to as "Jane the Operator" as the program is refined.

SAIA shared their program with some 30 people in Huntington Beach on July 18, 2012 following SAIA's Annual Convention. The audience included OSHA representatives, manufactures, independent training institutions, dealers, end users and experts as well as selected SAIA staff. It allowed Stollery and Backer to savor questions, challenges and suggestions from a wide range of people heavily involved throughout the AWP industry.

Starting in early October, the SAIA will be recruiting for ATIs to add the AWP course. The program will be administered through the SAIA's Accredited Training Institute network that is currently involved with scaffold and mast climbing/transport training. There are currently some 11 regions globally supporting several ATIs in each that will certainly elevate SAIA's international presence in AWP Training.

SAIA has had a strong Alliance with OSHA since 2008 and is currently developing "Tip Sheets" for operators as well as awareness training for OSHA compliance officers. SAIA also has strategic partnerships with Access, Lift & Handlers magazine, The American Rental Association and Maxim Capacity Media's SAF-T Conference, which will endorse the program and will serve as a "megaphone" to the industry announcing the need for operator training through all accredited training institutions.

For more information, visit the SAIA's website.

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