How Do Aerial Lift Operators Get Certified?

Check out the Aerial Lift Safety Training Compliance Kit for a great training package.

Employers frequently ask the question "Where can I get my employees certified to operate aerial lifts?"  While aerial lift operators do have to  be trained and evaluated by the employer, they do not need to be "certified" or "qualified" by any particular organization.

OSHA Aerial Lift Training Requirement

29 CFR 1926.453(b)(2)(ii) says that "Only authorized persons shall operate an aerial lift."  The employer has the ability and responsibility to train and authorize operators themselves.  While the OSHA standard does not mention specific training criteria, ANSI does have aerial lift training guidelines that OSHA will use to assist them in evaluating if a company aerial lift training program is sufficient.

OSHA explains this requirement in more detail in a standard interpretation in response to a safety managers query:

"In the situation where operator capabilities are the issue, OSHA would first determine if the operator was trained and if no training was provided, issue a citation for violating 1926.21(b)(2). IF training was provided, OSHA would need to use the general duty requirements of paragraph 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act to address any related violations. In so doing, OSHA would use the ANSI requirements to help establish what the industry practice is in regard to operator qualifications. Although OSHA defines the term, "qualified" at 1926.32(1), the terms "certified" and "qualified would have to be defined by ANSI in this case because it would be that organization's definitions of its own terms that would govern the application of its requirements. Consequently, it is that organization that must define the terms for you."


Employers do not need to get their aerial lift operators certified by an outside body, they just need to be trained and evaluated by the employer.


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  • Bryan Caro

    Nov 01, 2017

    Bryan Caro

    I was told by a GC that OSHA says they have to have a card… nowhere dies it say that in the standard and he never confirmed that they wanted a card on their person, but we will comply with the generality form the GC

  • Jeremy Norton

    Jun 18, 2015

    Jeremy Norton

    “Will an online course meet the training requirements for aerial lifts?”

    An online course is an excellent way to accomplish the knowledge portion of the training, but operators must also be trained on the specifics of the vehicle they will be operating and the work environment. We recommend that every operator complete a field evaluation where they are signed off on both safe operation of the vehicle and recognizing and avoiding hazards in the work area.

  • Steven R

    Jun 18, 2015

    Steven R

    Will an online course meet the training requirements for aerial lifts?

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