The Rental Show was spirited in Orlando, Fla., last month. Attendance was good, not overwhelming — I’ll save that adjective for ConExpo this month — and the attitude was upbeat all the way around. The attendance figures were not yet announced at RER press time, but floor traffic was solid and generally exhibitors were happy with sales and the quality of leads.

Speaking of “up,” I had the chance to go up in Genie’s 180-foot boomlift during the show at a Genie event at ESPN Stadium, the spring training home of the Atlanta Braves. The machine was to be moved out before the players arrived, but I don’t think any line drives would have reached 180 feet up.

I was impressed with the machine’s hydraulics and sturdiness. You’ve had a chance to read about the SX-180 in these pages going back to our December issue when it won the Grand Prize in our Innovative Product Award. Now the machines are coming off the assembly line and are actually on jobsites. Re-rent specialist Acme Lift acquired one of the first ones and rented it immediately to an oil refinery in Houston.

Now JLG is coming out with a 185-foot boomlift, and I expect to take a look at it at ConExpo and will be reporting on it later on.

Whether an aerial work platform goes up 180 feet, 185 feet, or 12 feet, safety is paramount, and that’s why every March issue we devote a cover story to aerial safety. The ground-breaking work of the International Powered Access Federation, here in the U.S. and internationally, is vital to this industry, as is Genie’s Lift Pro aerial safety program, with its user-friendly approach to training. Organizations such as the Scaffolding Industry Association and the American Rental Association have contributed, as have others over the years.

NES Rentals CEO Andy Studdert is a veteran of the airline industry and I admire the detailed approach to safety he has brought to NES — and I am by no means slighting any of the other rental companies that have outstanding safety records by mentioning Studdert — but his background in the airline industry has obviously informed NES’ attitude. You don’t usually have a minor accident with a jetliner. Although minor mishaps can occur with AWPs, accidents can also cause injuries and fatalities. Just because only one or two people are killed or injured instead of dozens or hundreds does not mean safety should be taken less seriously.

The rental industry has made tremendous strides in making sure appropriate training is provided both to rental company staff as well as customers. Some companies, such as NES Rentals and Metrolift, make every member of their staffs take essential safety training (see cover story), even if they will never actually use a lift themselves, so that the company culture is infused with this knowledge. Even if the employee’s job is accounts payable or some other administrative task, the awareness of proper safety practices permeates these organizations in a vital and positive way. People in the office understand something about what’s going on in the yard or on the jobsite, and there are a lot of benefits to this approach.

If your rental company isn’t up to date on aerial safety practices, I urge you to review how your employees are trained, their ability to train and familiarize customers, whether or not you are providing manuals for customers on machines, and if you are doing everything you can to prevent accidents. Accidents can happen, even when all detailed safety procedures are followed, how much more so when they are not. There are plenty of source materials that can help in this area, and IPAF, ARA and any aerial work platform manufacturer would be happy to make sure those materials are available to you. If you prevent one accident, it will be well worth it.

 

 

This is the time of year when a lot of new products are being launched. There were many to see at The Rental Show and there will be many more at ConExpo. We’ll do our best to bring as many as possible to you, so pleased stay tuned to the pages of this magazine and, even more so, to our digital offerings, RER Reports and RER Product Wire, both of which are available for free and you can sign up for them at no charge at www.rermag.com. You’ll get two issues per week of RER Reports sent directly to you via e-mail and one issue per week of RER Product Wire.

I also invite you to listen to our next free webinar about Tier 4 challenges and that will be broadcast April 10, with some very interesting panelists. Please check our website for details.