The Automotive Lift Institute (ALI) kicked off the world’s first third-party vehicle lift inspector certification program on Oct. 31 with a two-day event at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. More than 300 industry professionals attended the ALI Lift Inspector Certification Program orientation. Attendees included lift inspector candidates, ALI members, and vehicle repair business executives interested in learning more about how certified lift inspectors can help their companies. The event concluded with a surprise visit from seven-time NASCAR Champion Richard “The King” Petty.
It is crucial for technician safety that all vehicle lifts be inspected at least annually by qualified automotive lift inspectors. This requirement is found in the ANSI National Standard covering vehicle lift operation, inspection, and maintenance (ANSI/ALI ALOIM: 2008), which is included by reference in regulations throughout the United States and Canada. However, until now there have been no independent national vehicle lift inspection licensing or certification programs.
“As OSHA and other health and safety officers have stepped up enforcement of lift safety and inspection standards in recent years, the demand for qualified lift inspectors has grown,” explained R.W. “Bob” O’Gorman, ALI president. “Unfortunately, lift inspection companies haven’t had an independent means to demonstrate to customers that their inspectors are qualified to perform annual lift inspections. The new ALI Lift Inspector Certification Program provides third-party assurance that an ALI Certified Lift Inspector has been proven competent to thoroughly inspect any vehicle lift.”
Douglas Grunnet, outgoing ALI chairman, started the Oct. 31 meeting with a brief history of the Lift Inspector Certification Program. ALI has invested more than $700,000 to develop the program, which includes extensive reference and testing materials.
“It has been a major undertaking, but the day is upon us,” Grunnet said. “This will become a benchmark day in the history of the automotive lift industry.”
O’Gorman introduced the program’s pilot group which has helped to refine the program over the last two years. The group includes some 50 subject matter experts, factory-designated trainers and certified lift inspector certification candidates. Several of the pilot program candidates have passed all of the examinations and practical requirements to become the first lift inspectors certified by ALI.
“We’ve invested heavily to help you get ahead of the curve, and to help the industry get ahead of the curve,” O’Gorman told attendees. “We promise to work hard, and we’re asking you to work hard, as well.”
Keith Bunn, one of the pilot program’s factory-designated trainers, summarized the purpose of the ALI Lift Inspector Certification Program. “The ALI Lift Inspector Certification Program is engineered to provide both credibility and integrity in a certified inspector by establishing a solid knowledge base and evaluation standard by which automotive lift inspectors should be qualified,” he explained. “This program will not educate candidates on the structural, mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, and pneumatic principles that are incorporated together in equipment design to provide a safe and reliable automotive lift, but it will determine who is educated enough to evaluate whether the condition of that equipment maintains its safe and reliable use within those principles.”
Dale Soos, ALI senior project engineer, reviewed the certification process and the extensive materials provided to candidates in the program. He also highlighted some of the benefits certified lift inspectors and their companies receive. Each certified inspector is assigned a unique inspector ID number that appears on his or her badge, patch and inspection labels. All lift inspection companies with ALI Certified Lift Inspectors on staff will be listed in an online directory launching in May 2013 to make it easy for lift owners to find local certified inspectors.
Some of the marketing materials used to promote the program were also debuted at the meeting. ALI continues its partnership with the Petty organization in 2013. Petty appears with the tagline “Lifting It Right Is Fixing It Right” on materials promoting the ALI Lift Inspector Certification Program. The Lift Inspector Certification Program logo was also featured on the No. 43 Ford Fusion driven by Aric Almirola in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway earlier this year.
As the Oct. 31 meeting wrapped up with audience Q&A, attendees were startled as a distinctive Southern voice at the back of the room suddenly proclaimed: “Yeah, I’ve got a question.” Striding down the aisle in his trademark sunglasses and Charlie 1 Horse hat, Richard Petty took over and shared anecdotes about changes that have taken place in the racing world over his career, drawing parallels to the changes taking place in the lift industry. He also told attendees that all of the lifts at Petty’s Garage are certified and, as of this year, inspected annually. Afterwards, Petty posed for photos with attendees in front of a screen featuring the No. 43 car sporting the ALI logo.
For more information about the ALI Lift Inspector Certification Program, including a schedule of upcoming participants’ orientation meetings and exams, visit http://www.autolift.org/certified-inspectors.php.