Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWPs), formerly known as Aerial Work Platforms (AWP) are machines / devices intended for moving persons, tools, and material to working positions, consisting of at least a work platform with controls, an extending structure, and a chassis.

MEWPs are necessary for a variety of activities at UVA, including maintenance. Imagine going to a basketball game at JPJ or a play at Culbreth Theatre with no lights. Thanks to the use of a MEWP in the Drama and Athletics Departments they can change the lights and perform any necessary maintenance safely when needed.


Some of the most common hazards are falls from elevations, tip overs, ejections due to sudden jolts, objects falling on workers, ejections from the platform, contact with ceilings and other objects. Proper training and following the safety guidelines will reduce the risk of these hazards.


The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and American National Safety Institute (ANSI) have implemented new standards for the safe use of MEWPs. As a department or operation that utilizes MEWPs, responsibilities include, but are not limited to the following:

Operators must be trained and certified on each type of MEWP they operate. Formal training includes a written exam, hands on evaluation and recertification every three years by a qualified person. According to the ANSI standard, a qualified person is experienced with the particular classification of MEWP and knowledgeable regarding laws, regulations, safe use practices, manufacturer requirements recognition and avoidance of hazards. Contact the MEWP Manufacturer for your training needs.

Perform a documented pre-inspection, prior to the start of the work and ensure an annual inspection is performed with additional items required by the manufacturer. Inspections should be retained for at least three years. Refer to the MEWP manufacturer for inspection information.

Risk Assessment
ANSI requires that a risk assessment be completed prior to starting the work/task by an authorized operator or supervisor, and the findings must be shared with everyone working on or around the MEWP prior to the work beginning. A risk assessment (pdf) evaluates the risks (hazards) for the work being done and identifies the control measures to eliminate or minimize the hazard. It should also include a rescue plan in the event of a fall, the operator is sick or injured, or the MEWP breaks down.


EHS will follow the ANSI A92 standard in determining Fall Protection requirements for MEWPs.

MEWPs that are manually propelled elevating work platforms or self-propelled elevating work platforms do not require the use of personal fall protection. The guard rails are designed to serve as the primary fall protection. These lifts stay within the chassis or tipping lines and are generally referred to as manlifts or scissor lifts. Examples:


Scissors Lift

Note: Some manufacturers of scissor lifts state personal fall protection required. In this case you must follow manufacturer recommendation.

MEWP's that can move beyond the machine's chassis or tipping line (wheels or outriggers) require the operator and any occupants to wear personal fall protection. These are generally referred to as articulating or boom lifts. Examples:

Articulating Lift

Boom Lift

Boom Truck

Refer to Environmental Health & Safety's (EHS) Fall Protection Guideline – Personal Fall Arrest Equipment and Inspection. EHS can advise on equipment training requirements.

Operator is wearing a Body Harness and Self Retractable Lifeline (Lanyard).
Picture Courtesy of Miller Fall Protection & Safety


  • The movable chain or bar at the access point of the basket must always be secured after entering inside of the platform to maintain the protection system.
  • The Operator and Occupant must always remain within the protective system by keeping his or her feet on the floor and never climbing onto the guard rails or overreaching beyond the sides.
  • Keep the platform floor clear of debris. Scrap materials, tools and other items can cause tripping hazards. Remove items that are not necessary to do your work.
  • If the lift manufacturer designates fall restraint, use a full body harness and the shortest length self-retractable lifeline to reduce a potential fall to the shortest distance possible.
  • If personal fall protection is required, always use the designated anchor point. Never connect your lanyard to adjacent structures while working inside of the work platform.

Do not compromise your safety. Never climb on the aerial work platform railings. The guardrail is designed to protect you from falling out of the platform. It is NOT designed as a step.
Picture courtesy of OSHA Region IV

Consultation Available from Environmental Health & Safety (EHS)
The EHS Fall Protection Competent Person can assist you in evaluating the appropriate fall protection for MEWP operation. Please contact EHS at 434.982.4911 to schedule a consultation.

MEWP Operator Safety Resources:

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