The acronym IPAF stands for International Powered Access Federation and they oversee the safety aspect of working at a height using any powered lifting equipment, such as scissor and boom lifting aids. Access can also be gained from static towers and scaffolding but for anything where a lot of moving is needed on the job or where heights vary, powered access is the best way forward as it involves less climbing about. The less ladder and tower work undertaken the better, because this is very tiring and as everyone knows, tiredness kills. And so does lack of training, and this is where IPAF training comes in.
Well-trained Staff Makes For a Safe Workplace
Government health and safety regulations stipulate the responsibilities of the employer but employees also have responsibilities, to themselves, workmates and the company. Anyone who does not follow guidelines or things learned in training sessions may be in breach of contract but will certainly be behaving foolishly, as falls from a height are the biggest single cause of deaths in the workplace in any given year. IPAF training usually takes just one day and this should be considered as a day that could save your life – even staff who routinely work at a height usually take something new away with them from a training session and keeping up to date is vital. Using equipment on a daily basis can cause complacency to set in and it never hurts to remind people just how dangerous working with MEWPs (mobile elevating work platforms) can be. See our Scissor Lift Training courses and IPAF Mewps for managers training for further details.
Training Isn’t Boring
Staff are sometimes resistant to attending a training session because they think it will be boring and not relevant. IPAF courses are designed to be applicable across the board, but Boss Training also offer modular training in using powered access equipment so that a company that uses only one or two different types can tailor their training sessions to that specific item. The training can also be done in situ, so that everyone is being trained on the equipment they use daily, which is another way of keeping the interest of the trainees, because they can see how it affects them directly. IPAF recommend that other members of staff, not just those who work at a height, are trained. Managers in particular should be aware of how things work, because they may need to discipline or monitor people working with a MEWP of one sort or another and there is the need for at least basic knowledge in this case. Staff working at ground level need training as well – there may be an emergency situation that they have to help with but also they need to be aware of the risks of distraction and horseplay.
Why The IPAF Qualification is Useful
As a successful participant in an IPAF affiliated training session, you will get a certificate and laminated card which shows that you have completed the course, both practical and theoretical elements. This card is accepted all over the UK and for people who work for agencies or who perhaps like to move around the country on different jobs, it can make that vital difference between winning a contract for a job or not. Top up training is also available and this is recommended every time an employee begins work on a different kind of powered access equipment. Although the Health and Safety element remains the same, some equipment has different hazards and it is not really wise to assume that all MEWPs are the same. Risks also vary depending on where the item is being used. For example, using a cherry-picker outside for tree work is very different from using it inside for painting or other maintenance. The risks outside would come from uneven or unstable ground; inside, crush injury would be the biggest hazard.
Ignorance is No Defence
Accidents do happen – there is no doubt that sometimes an incident can be just an unfortunate set of circumstances which are beyond everyone’s control and in this case, it hopefully does not result in anyone’s death or serious injury. Often, though – and more often than not, as the statistics clearly show – incidents which result in injury or death could have been avoided. Training is only as good as the person receiving it and the IPAF training is designed to be engaging and interesting as well as to the point and relevant. Even people who have worked with powered access for some time report that they had no idea how the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, with specific emphasis on the Work at Height Regulations, applied to them and are really grateful for having it brought to their attention. Others are pleased to fill gaps in their knowledge and work much more safely.