In an effort to highlight a long-time contributor to equipment manufacturing industry product safety and compliance, AEM recently sat down with Dr. Joshua Chard, Director of Product and Corporate Safety for AEM member company Altec Industries.

Dr. Chard spoke about how he got into the equipment manufacturing industry, his roles and responsibilities at Altec, his work developing industry standards, and much more.

AEM: How did you get your start in the industry and eventually arrive at Altec?

Dr. Chard: I earned a Master’s degree and Ph.D in industrial engineering from Texas A&M, where my areas of specialty were human factors, manufacturing and engineering management.

While at Texas A&M, I worked at the NSF Industry/University cooperative research center for ergonomics. One of its industry partner’s was Browning-Ferris Industries – a user of mobile hydraulic equipment for waste collection. I eventually started working with them on the customer side of design requirements for hydraulic equipment.

After completing my degree, I moved on to Grove Worldwide, where I worked with cranes and elevating work platforms as a product safety engineer. I then came to Altec as a product safety manager about 20 years ago, and I’ve been with the company ever since.

AEM: What is your role at Altec?

Dr. Chard: I’m the Director of Product and Corporate safety. The first hat I wear is product safety. Under that area of responsibility, I have a team of product safety managers who report to me. We’re responsible for participating on design teams tasked with creating Altec’s new products. We also investigate accidents related to our products and interact with customers on safety-related issues and the use of our products.

We also participate in standards development. For instance I’m chair of the ANSI/SAIA A92.2 Standards for Vehicle Mounted Elevating and Rotating Work Platforms subcommittee and chair of the A92 main committee for mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPS) and aerial work platforms.

I’m also in charge of the operator training group. We have responsibility for the content Altec creates for the use of our products, and a team of trainers who go out and deliver that content. We develop it in-house, and then we deliver it with instructor-led, in-person and online classes.

I also have responsibilities for corporate safety – so the safety of Altec associates. The corporate safety team reports to me. These are the folks that are interested in plant safety, safety of our mobile service technicians, our salesforce, our office associates – the safety of anyone and everyone who works for Altec.

AEM: What has been your involvement with AEM?

Dr. Chard: I started by going to the AEM Product Safety and Compliance Seminar. I’ve participated in that conference a few times over the years, and even presented there. I was also chair of the Manufacturers of Aerial Devices & Digger Derricks Council (MADDDC), and we’d meet in conjunction with the A92 meetings. I’m also a member of the Technical and Safety Leadership Council for AEM.

At various times over the years, AEM has reached out to manufacturers on issues associated with regulatory development with OSHA. I’ve participated in some of those groups, where AEM has helped bring industry leaders to OSHA’s attention for discussions like fall protection, crane safety and more.

AEM: Can you talk a little bit about the work you’ve done related to the A92 standards?

Dr. Chard: I joined the A92 main committee in 2000 or 2001, and I’ve been participating on the committee ever since. I eventually became chair of the A92.2 subcommittee in 2009, following that revision. I chaired the 2015 revision, and right now we are out for main committee ballot on what will hopefully be the 2020 revision of A92.2. I’ve also participated in the ISO TC 214 standards development group for international MEWP products. Also, IEC 61057, which is the IEC standard for insulating aerial devices for live working.

I think one of the things I’m actually most proud of is to be elected chair of the A92.2 subcommittee and A92 main committee.  It is an honor to be recognized by my peers – and in some cases – competitors, as someone who is able to listen, share all points of view, and help a group of people make progress in a consensus environment. Although I know Altec appreciates my participation, I’m glad that those outside my company appreciate what I can contribute to all of their goals, not just the ones that are associated with my employer.

AEM: When you consider the industry right now, can you speak to the importance of the work that is being done by your company, other companies, and various other groups – especially as it relates to standards right now?

Dr. Chard: Altec, and other companies that support the standards creation process serve a vital role in user safety.  As manufacturers and members of AEM, we’re all making products. And we want them to be safe. But we’re making them in a competitive environment. Through the standards development process, we’re working together to set the basis by which we’re going to compete against one another. And by listening to our customers, our users, and our experts at the consensus standards level, we’re all agreeing what this common base of requirements for a product is going to be.

It improves safety, and really helps all of us compete on a level playing field – where no one is facing a disadvantage because they’re unable to understand what the basic requirements are, or they’re unable to participate in the development of those requirements.

AEM: It’s very important that aerial work platforms are designed correctly and manufactured properly. What will some of the work being done right now related to this next update ultimately mean for the industry?

Dr. Chard: The A92 standards, as a whole, have been harmonizing with European standards. And we’re broadening the market for manufacturers. But at the same time, we’re pushing that core set of requirements and core understanding of what the product is supposed to be to larger and larger audiences. So, kind of the way I think about standards development is none of us is as smart as all of us. And the combined experience of the consensus body pushes things in different directions based on the participants involved.

So, when we get to harmonization, we’re pushing that core of participants to a larger group. It allows for a greater number of employees to benefit. It also allows a larger group of to benefit from that core knowledge base that is contained within the international standards or in the American national standards.

AEM: You’ve been at Altec for two decades now. You’ve accomplished a lot. Kind of looking ahead for yourself, what are some of the goals, objectives and work that you’ve got on the horizon here that’s got you excited and passionate about continuing on in the industry?

Dr. Chard: I think the technological changes that we’re seeing coming into our industry now. Our customer base – generally mobile hydraulic equipment – is following the sophistication of other industries. That integration of advanced electronics into the world of mobile elevated work platforms, aerial devices, Digger Derricks, cranes. All of that is really an interesting in terms of how benefits can be provided to customers and users by integrating technological features that they see value in. Competing in that arena is something I look forward to, and it’s something I find to be truly fascinating.

AEM: If you were talking to a young person who was on the cusp of graduating from school and getting into the industry, what piece of advice would you share?

Dr. Chard: My son is a freshman in the electrical engineering program at the University of Connecticut, and so it’s something I’ve dealt with on a personal level – providing advice for someone who wants to be an engineer. It all comes down to where things are heading and where you can make the biggest impact. And I think the integration of electronics and control systems and next-generation technology is a real opportunity for new engineers.

But that’s not to say that the hydraulics and structures of the products – all of that – are any less important. But technology is an area where there is rapid change. And where there’s rapid change, there’s opportunity.

I’m an inventor of six of the Patents that Altec holds. Each one of those is related to an opportunity where – as an engineer or anyone who works for a manufacturer – you look and you see a challenge and opportunity for improvement. So, if I were talking to anybody that was in the industry. Whether he or she is an engineer, sales person, plant floor employee, technician, operator or supervisor – anybody – I would say none of us, is as smart as all of us. Everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the industry through their own experience. So, I would say when you see something that can be improved, continuously try and find ways to make it better.

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