Safety first and last: Rental stores have a duty to inform when renting aerial equipment
Rental stores have to be able to answer questions about safe MEWP operation.
Canada’s new set of CSA B354 standards for mobile elevated work platforms have created some controversy surrounding the responsibilities placed upon the equipment owner, dealer, and user, especially when it comes to training. Believe it or not, rental companies can fall under these titles, especially when employees are using the equipment.
CSA defines a user as a person or entity that has care, control and custody of the MEWP. This is typically seen as the employer or a rental company. These new standards impose specific duties on these parties to ensure that the equipment can be selected, positioned, used, and maintained safely. If you rent MEWPs, there are key areas within the standard that will have an effect on your organization.
All occupants of a MEWP must have a basic understanding of how to complete work safely and the knowledge of how to operate the controls in an emergency. Unless fully trained, the instruction provided does not allow the occupant to operate the controls except in an emergency. Occupant instruction needs to include elements such as fall protection, stability, MEWP accessories, site specific procedures and hazards, and the importance and location of the operation manual. So there are no free rides for uneducated occupants!
The standard also dictates that dealers and owners of the equipment offer appropriate training and familiarization to help users and operators comply with the requirements outlined in the standard regarding inspection, maintenance, service, use, application, and operation of the MEWP. This is what has caused some controversy. The language used in the standard is “offer.” The spirit and intent of the standard is to ensure that operators are trained so it is fair to say that training can be offered through a third party.
Does the dealer or rental company have to provide full blown training to a renter? We must keep in mind that almost every province has legislation that imposes duties upon each employer to ensure that their operators are trained. The CSA standard is not legislation. That being said, rental companies need to ensure that the parties they rent to are familiar with the equipment they are renting.
To supplement this approach, the standard states that the user (whether employer or rental company) shall assist their approved operators and respond to questions related to rated capacity, intended use, maintenance, repair, inspection, or operation of the MEWPs. Therefore, individuals responsible for providing guidance on selecting the correct MEWP for the task must be educated about all aspects of the equipment they are renting. The user shall obtain the proper information from the dealer or manufacturer, if needed.
The standard also makes mention of ensuring that arrangements are made by the owner to identify the entity that will be responsible for the inspections and maintenance when the MEWP is rented.
MEPS can be some of the safest devices used to complete work at height, but not everything always goes as planned. Rental companies need to ensure their own MEWP operators are trained to the CSA standard and those responsible for providing information about the equipment are properly educated. Inform renters of manufacturer’s instructions and warnings, provide guidance on proper selection and where possible provide familiarization and training.
Jeff Thorne is manager of training at Occupational Safety Group.