Ever since the introduction of Health & Safety awareness into the UK workplace, there have been an ever growing number of federations that have been developed in order to promote their respective trades and industry sectors. One of these is known is IPAF and this article aims to cover the specifics and reasons for its formation.
What is IPAF?
IPAF is an acronym for The International Powered Access Federation and its intentions are to raise awareness regarding the correct and safe use of powered access to a worldwide audience. Essentially, powered access is a term that describes elevated work platforms and these are ever present throughout the UK workplace. IPAF is a non-profit organisation that acts as a central point for all employees and employers who are involved in powered access equipment operations.
Why Train in IPAF?
Working from height is a hazardous activity and that risk is increased when powered access equipment is involved. The main purpose of any Health & Safety approved training course is to protect the workforce from all possible hazards that may exist in the workplace. Each UK employer has a duty of care to perform and failure to carry this out can lead to injuries and even deaths in the workplace. IPAF itself does not provide any form of training for powered access equipment, but each IPAF course has been approved by the HSE and must conform to ISO 18878:2004 Mobile elevating work platforms – Operator (driver) training.
Over 90,000 IPAF operators are trained every year by various approved training centres and each successful trainee will receive a PAL Card (Powered Access License). They will also receive a certificate and an official safety guide. Each training centre is allowed to set their own fee structure but they must run a small class and each centre is audited on a regular basis by IPAF. The typical IPAF course will run over 2 days and there is usually a mixture of theory and practice. There are 5 categories of IPAF training courses and they comprise of the following:
• Mobile Elevating Work Platform (MEWP) – These are suitable for Operators, PAL+, demonstrators and Instructors.
• Mast Climbing Work Platform (MCWP) Courses for – Mobile Operators, demonstrators, Installers, Advanced Installers and Instructors.
• Harness Use and Inspection
• MEWPs for Managers
You can find more information about the relevant courses here – http://www.ipaf.org/en/training/
The PAL Card (Powered Access License) is an internationally recognised qualification that proves the owner has been sufficiently trained with regards to platform operations to the highest degree. These cards can only be awarded by the IPAF on completion of an IPAF approved training course. There are over 550 IPAF approved training centres all over the world.
Who Needs One?
IPAF believe that anyone who works at height and is required to use powered access equipment must be in possession of the PAL card. These cards are valid for 5 years and will display the specific type of equipment that the PAL card holder has been trained on. It will also display the level of expertise that the holder has achieved. These cards are a valuable qualification and many other tradesmen value this internationally recognised safety award.
Do You Need One?
If you work in an industry sector that requires you to work at height with powered access equipment, you will need to display that you have received the correct training with this specific equipment and that training must have been provided via an IPAF approved training centre.
What If I Don’t Hold a PAL Card?
If you are working with powered access equipment at height and do not hold the PAL card as part of your training awards, please speak to your employer immediately and make him/her aware of this site – http://www.ipaf.org/en/training/pal-card-and-smart-pal-card/