Photo by Jeff Rubenstone/ENR
The 1850SJ can go up to 185 ft and has controls almost identical to JLG's smaller boom lifts.

On JLG's new proving grounds and expanded training center at its headquarters in McConnellsburg, Pa., an 1850SJ Ultra Boom slowly rises to its full 185-ft platform height. The lift is operated via a control panel that is nearly identical to JLG's more common 60-ft boom lifts. Often used in place of scaffolding or ladders, aerial work platforms are now reaching heights typically associated with cranes or other heavy equipment. As application and client lists grow, manufacturers such as JLG are driving an expansion in safety training.

"I think the industry and users are becoming more aware of the need and benefits of quality training," says Rick Smith, JLG senior director for product training. "So far in 2014, we've had about 2,000 people through our training program and another 1,800 through our e-learning platform, a significant increase from 2013. In the past, we could not meet the demand for classroom training in our McConnellsburg facility. Our new facility will help us meet that demand."

Standards state that only an authorized person may use an aerial lift, but increased use has created more operators than JLG can train directly. "JLG is taking a new approach with our train-the-trainer and operator training." says Smith. "We built the proving grounds to support extensive hands-on training in a safe and realistic environment. Every participant in our blended train-the-trainer program will spend several hours performing the tasks that they will train operators to do."

The McConnellsburg training facility expanded this year and has four vehicle bays, three classrooms and a four-acre outdoor proving ground. JLG University, an online program, includes video-game-style simulators of JLG's 800S 80-ft telescopic boom lift and its G10 telehandler, with more models planned.

To speed training on its Ultra Booms, JLG tried to make the 1850SJ's controls as familiar as possible for experienced lift operators. "We recommend training specific to whatever lift you're operating. If you go from a 60-ft boom to the [1850SJ], we recommend training on that specific model," says Jeff Ford, JLG global product manager, aerial work platforms. "But from an operator perspective, we try to put in as much commonality as possible."

Despite the similar controls, some additional safety features were needed, says Ford. The 1850SJ and 1500 Ultra Booms have an LCD that shows a profile of the lift's operating envelope. "At 60 feet, you can manage the boom from visual observation, but, once you get above 130 feet, you need more information. As you approach the edge of the envelope, the lift will slow down, and the LCD provides the operator with needed visual feedback."