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Michigan and Ohio members are now certified Mobile Elevating Work Platform (MEWP) trainers

by Connie Lannan

ARA of Ohio and Michigan ARA Certified MEWP Train-the-Trainer programMichigan and Ohio rental operators took advantage of the opportunity to become American Rental Association (ARA) Mobile Elevating Work Platform (MEWP) Trainers, thanks to the train-the-trainer programs offered by the ARA of Michigan in October and the ARA of Ohio in November.

The training, which satisfies Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements as well as the new American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A92 standards, included a self-paced online classroom portion available through ARA’s RentalU and then the hands-on training that was administered by ARA-certified master trainers.

Kevin Fent, assistant store manager, Vassar True Value Hardware & True Value Rental, Vassar and Frankenmuth, Mich., took part because he wanted to be able to train his employees in-house on the lifts in his inventory. He is glad he attended.

“The training was excellent, really phenomenal,” he says. “I learned a whole lot that I can now better explain to my staff, from the regulations and rules behind why things are done to the understanding of the working aspects. This will make us much safer and more knowledgeable. Also, by using some of the forms that ARA has developed, we will be able to better familiarize our customers about the equipment before they leave our yards. That should help us reduce the number of hours we spend troubleshooting with a client out in the field on why something isn’t functioning right for them. More importantly, it should make them safer.”

Sun Rental Center, Mentor, Ohio, has about 30 different lifts in its fleet. For Ryan Ponikvar, manager, “the opportunity to receive a different perspective on how to use and train our people on this equipment” was a huge draw, he says.

ARA of Michigan and ARA of Ohio MEWP Train-the-Trainer programPonikvar, who attended the training with his colleague, Randy Revlock, rental coordinator, was impressed with what was delivered. “We got a lot of information, not only on how to safely operate the equipment and a refresher on best practices but also regarding being a trainer,” he says.

“The ARA instructor showed us how to effectively come across with certain safety points. The biggest thing was having the instructor critique us and tell us that we will be training our employees, so we have to take that perspective and drive those messages home. For instance, when we are up in a MEWP and moving in a direction of travel, to always be aware of what direction of travel you are moving in and constantly look in that direction. It is easy to be focused on the control panel and what your hands are doing and then you start moving and not remembering to turn around to where the machine is moving,” he adds.

The safety message resonated with Frank Boccabella Jr., general manager/vice president, Taylor True Value Rental, Avon, Ohio.

“The instructor was very good as far as going over the machine, making sure that everything is in safe condition before you send it out, looking in the direction you are moving and doing a lot of callouts when you are moving, such as ‘I am going up’ or ‘I am going here’ as far as which direction you are going, and always having two or three people working around you when operating one of these MEWPs. He also talked about having a rescue plan in case of an emergency and that there are certain emergency protocols on who gets rescued first. That information will definitely make all of us safer, which is huge. It will give myself and my employees more confidence in relaying to our customers what they need to know when they rent one of our lifts,” he says.

BJ Nerone, manager, DEL Lift Rentals & Sales/Direct Forklift & Equipment, Boardman, Ohio, also appreciated the emphasis on safety.

ARA of Michigan and ARA of Ohio MEWP Train-the-Trainer program“We take safety for granted. You don’t always look ahead when you start moving forward. The safety stuff is what you relax on and don’t think about anymore, such as putting a safety harness on just to move around the yard. You never know. Every yard has potholes, and if you hit one it could catapult you, even 2 ft. off the ground. For me personally it was a great refresher, reminding myself to be safe,” he says.

While all said the online portion was very helpful, the interactive nature of the hands-on portion and the networking offered additional benefits.

“We bounced ideas off each other and talked about different scenarios and best practices,” Ponikvar says. “Plus, I was able to network with other rental operators. It was interesting to meet different types of rental companies and interact with the ARA trainer as well as the employees of the company hosting the training.”

Fent agrees. “Many people in the class I was in were from the same area as me. To be able to make connections was great. We exchanged business cards too, so we can work together in the future,” he says.

Successfully completing both the online and hands-on training allows them to go back to their operations and train their staff.

It’s about “providing our company with in-house trainers who are equipped with the knowledge and resources to then have our own training sessions on this equipment for our employees,” Ponikvar says, adding that the information and best practices he will share with his employees are now standardized to fit the requirements of OSHA and ANSI. “It was very valuable,” he adds.