Elevate Your Operations: A Guide to Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs)

worker on a mobile elevated work platform

What Is Mobile Elevated Work Platform?

Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) have become indispensable tools in a wide range of industries such as construction, maintenance, warehousing, entertainment, and numerous other sectors. These versatile machines revolutionize how work is carried out at elevated heights, providing safe and efficient access to elevated areas and allowing workers to perform tasks with precision and ease.

The evolution of MEWPs can be traced back to the early 20th century, with advancements in technology and engineering leading to safer and more efficient designs. Today, MEWPs are equipped with advanced safety features, ergonomic controls, and environmentally friendly power options, ensuring optimal performance and compliance with industry regulations.

Types and Classes of Mobile Elevated Work Platform

There are 2 main classifications of MEWPS - Group A, which includes MEWPs equipped with platforms that possess vertical mobility while remaining within the tipping lines. Group B includes all remaining MEWPs, predominantly boom-type MEWPs wherein the platform extends beyond the chassis of the machine.

Under each group, the MEWPs are further categorized into the following types:

  • Type 1: MEWPs that can only be operated while in the stowed position.
  • Type 2: MEWPs that can be driven while elevated, but their control is managed from the chassis.
  • Type 3: MEWPs that can be driven while elevated, with control managed from the work platform.

There are three popular types of MEWPs that cater to different working requirements: scissor lifts, boom lifts, and vertical mast lifts. Let's explore each type for its specific functionalities and benefits.

Scissor Lifts

Scissor lifts operate on a set of crisscrossing supports that extend vertically. These lifts use hydraulic or electric systems to raise and lower the work platform. The scissor mechanism provides stability and even weight distribution. This type of mobile elevated aerial work platform is commonly used for indoor maintenance, construction, and installation tasks. They offer a spacious work platform with a high weight capacity. The vertical extension capability allows for increased reach in a vertical direction.

Boom Lifts

Boom lifts offer both vertical and horizontal reach, making them ideal for accessing difficult-to-reach areas. They often have rotating platforms, allowing for precise positioning. This type of mobile elevated work platform is widely used in construction, maintenance, and filming industries. They enable workers to access tall structures, elevated equipment, or perform tasks that require overhead reach. The versatility and maneuverability of boom lifts enhance efficiency and productivity. There are four types of boom lifts:

  • Articulating Boom Lifts: Articulating boom lifts, also known as knuckle boom lifts, are designed with multiple hinged sections. These lifts provide flexibility and maneuverability, allowing operators to reach over and around obstacles. Articulating boom lifts are ideal for tasks that require precise positioning and access to tight spaces.
  • Telescopic Boom Lifts: Telescopic boom lifts feature a straight, extendable arm that provides impressive height and horizontal reach. They are known for their exceptional reach capabilities, making them suitable for accessing high and distant areas. Telescopic boom lifts are commonly used in construction, utility work, and industrial applications.
  • Trailer-Mounted Boom Lifts: Trailer-mounted boom lifts are compact and easily transportable. They can be towed behind a vehicle, making them suitable for jobs that require frequent mobility. These lifts are often used for maintenance, signage installation, and tree care.
  • Spider Lifts: Spider lifts, or tracked boom lifts, are versatile machines designed for accessing challenging and uneven terrains. They feature four or more extendable legs that provide stability on rough surfaces and slopes. Spider lifts are commonly utilized in landscaping, building maintenance, and event management.

Each type of boom lift offers unique advantages, allowing operators to choose the most suitable equipment based on the specific requirements of their projects. It is essential to consider factors such as reach, maneuverability, and terrain conditions when selecting the appropriate boom lift.

Vertical Mast Lifts

Vertical mast lifts consist of a single vertical mast with a platform for the worker. They are compact, lightweight, and offer ease of maneuverability.
These lifts operate on electric or hydraulic systems. This type of MEWP is commonly used for indoor maintenance, stock picking, and retail applications. Their compact design allows access to tight spaces and narrow aisles. They provide a stable and secure platform for elevated work.

Significant Terminologies

In the context of Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs), it is essential to understand key terms and their significance. Here are some important terminologies you should know:

  • Dealer: A dealer is a business entity authorized to sell or lease MEWPs. They provide expertise in equipment selection, sales, and customer support. Dealers often offer maintenance, parts, and training services.
  • Manufacturer: A manufacturer is a company that designs, produces, and distributes the MEWP. They are responsible for ensuring compliance with safety standards and regulations. Manufacturers may offer warranty coverage and technical support.
  • Occupant: An occupant refers to an individual who is present on the MEWP's work platform during operation. Occupants must follow safety guidelines, wear appropriate personal protective equipment, and be aware of their surroundings.
  • Operator: An operator is a trained individual responsible for operating and controlling the MEWP. Operators must undergo specific training to ensure safe operation. They are knowledgeable about equipment controls, safety procedures, and emergency protocols.
  • User: The term "user" generally refers to anyone utilizing or benefiting from the mobile elevated aerial work platform. Users may include occupants, operators, or individuals overseeing MEWP operations. Users have a shared responsibility to adhere to safety guidelines and use the equipment appropriately.
  • Work Platform: The work platform is the elevated area of the MEWP where occupants perform tasks. It is equipped with guardrails, controls, and safety features. Work platforms are designed to provide a stable and secure area for work at heights.

Industry Standards and Regulations

Compliance with industry standards and regulations is crucial for ensuring the safe operation of Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs).

OSHA Standards on MEWP

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established guidelines for MEWP safety through the 1926.453 standard on aerial lifts, addressing various aspects, including fall protection, training requirements, and equipment maintenance. Compliance with OSHA standards helps prevent accidents, injuries, and ensures a safe working environment.

ANSI/SAIA A92 Standards

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Scaffold & Access Industry Association (SAIA) jointly developed the A92 standards for MEWPs. These standards outline safety requirements, design specifications, and testing procedures. The A92 standards cover areas such as design, manufacturing, maintenance, and safe operation of MEWPs.

Safety and Training

Proper training is essential for MEWP operators to understand equipment functionality, controls, and safety protocols. Training programs educate operators on hazard recognition, emergency procedures, and best practices. Certifications, such as the Aerial Work Platform (AWP) operator certification, may be required by industry regulations or employers. Compliance with regulations ensures that operators possess the necessary skills and knowledge to operate MEWPs safely.

Adhering to OSHA standards, ANSI/SAIA A92 standards, and prioritizing safety through training and certifications helps mitigate risks associated with MEWP operations.

Benefits and Advantages of Mobile Elevating Work Platforms

Utilizing MEWPs offer numerous benefits and advantages that enhance work processes and improve overall outcomes.

  • Increased Efficiency and Productivity: MEWPs provide efficient access to elevated areas, reducing the time and effort required to perform tasks. Workers can easily maneuver and position themselves, optimizing productivity and workflow.
  • Enhanced Worker Safety and Reduced Risks: MEWPs are equipped with safety features such as guardrails, emergency stop buttons, and fall protection systems. Workers can perform tasks at heights with reduced risks of falls, improving overall safety and minimizing accidents.
  • Versatility and Accessibility: MEWPs are available in various types and sizes, catering to different industry requirements. They can navigate through narrow spaces, rough terrains, and confined areas, ensuring access to challenging work environments.
  • Cost-effectiveness and Time Savings: MEWPs streamline work processes, reducing the need for traditional scaffolding and manual labor. The ability to reach elevated areas quickly and efficiently saves time and labor costs.

In order to gain these benefits, it is also important to ensure the safe use of MEWPs. This involves taking the necessary precautions such as regular maintenance with proper lockout tagout procedures, operator training, and adherence to safety guidelines, to mitigate potential risks and promote a secure working environment.


1. What are the primary differences between scissor lifts and boom lifts?
Scissor lifts primarily provide vertical movement, while boom lifts offer both vertical and horizontal reach. Boom lifts have an extendable arm that allows for greater maneuverability and access to hard-to-reach areas.

2. How can I determine the right MEWP for my specific job requirements?
Consider factors such as height and reach requirements, workspace limitations, terrain conditions, and weight capacity. Consult with equipment experts or manufacturers to assess your specific needs and recommend the most suitable MEWP.

3. What safety measures should be in place when operating MEWPs?
Proper operator training and certification are crucial. Conduct pre-operation inspections, use personal protective equipment (PPE), and adhere to safety guidelines and protocols. Maintain a safe distance from electrical hazards and ensure stability on uneven surfaces.

4. Are there any weight restrictions for using a mobile elevated aerial work platform?
MEWPs have weight capacity limits specified by manufacturers. Consider the combined weight of operators, tools, and materials to ensure it does not exceed the specified limits.

5. How often should MEWPs be inspected and maintained?
Regular inspections should be conducted before each use to check for any visible damage or malfunction. Follow manufacturer recommendations for maintenance intervals, which may include periodic inspections, lubrication, and component replacements.

6. What are the typical rental costs for MEWPs?
Rental costs vary depending on the type of MEWP, duration of rental, location, and additional services. Prices can range from hourly rates to daily or weekly rates, with discounts available for longer rental periods.

The material provided in this article is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to replace professional/legal advice or substitute government regulations, industry standards, or other requirements specific to any business/activity. While we made sure to provide accurate and reliable information, we make no representation that the details or sources are up-to-date, complete or remain available. Readers should consult with an industrial safety expert, qualified professional, or attorney for any specific concerns and questions.


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Author: Herbert Post

Born in the Philadelphia area and raised in Houston by a family who was predominately employed in heavy manufacturing. Herb took a liking to factory processes and later safety compliance where he has spent the last 13 years facilitating best practices and teaching updated regulations. He is married with two children and a St Bernard named Jose. Herb is a self-described compliance geek. When he isn’t studying safety reports and regulatory interpretations he enjoys racquetball and watching his favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys.