In 1999, the ANSI A92.6 standard introduced a definition for familiarization that clearly differentiated this activity from training. “Training” consists of the instructions necessary to enable a trainee to become a qualified person regarding the task to be performed, including the recognition of potential hazards. “Familiarization” is the information regarding the control functions and safety devices on a specific aerial platform to be operated by a qualified person (trained operator).

In 2006, many of the aerial lift standards were updated to incorporate this language. The definition for familiarization was revisedised to add the information regarding the control functions and safety devices to be given directly to a qualified person or the operator who will control the movement of the aerial platform.

Yet, even with these clarifications, the distinction between training and familiarization does not appear to be fully understood. Too often familiarization upon delivery is being accepted as operator training.

To assist in this task, Aerial Work Platform Training Inc. (AWPT), the North American subsidiary of the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF), has published a technical guide on familiarization to assist in the understanding of the requirement for aerial lift operators to receive both proper training and familiarization before being authorized to operate an aerial lift. Technical Guidance - Familiarization is available online and may be downloaded free at

Another document prepared by IPAF and Kevin O'Shea of Mast-climbers LLC provides guidance and recommendations to ensure that mast climbing work platforms (MCWPs) are installed, maintained, examined, and used in a safe manner; and that training requirements are clearly established to control the quality of use, installation, and planning. The 28-page document also includes typical checklists for daily and weekly inspections.

Copies of the IPAF Guidelines for the Safe Use of Mast Climbing Work Platforms: US Edition 2008 are available free and can be downloaded at or