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What is IPAF?

IPAF is the World's Foremost Authority in Powered Access

What is the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF)?

Introduction to IPAF

The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) is a not-for-profit organisation which is solely owned by its members. Formed in 1983, it has significantly grown, with over 1100 members in 52 countries worldwide. Membership is available for manufacturers, distributors, rental companies, training companies, end-users and interested parties. It is the ‘World Authority in Powered Access’.

Through it’s training programmes and safety initiatives, it delivers industry Technical Advice, information and support. It has formed active industry related committees and holds regular Regional Meetings where members come together to learn about the latest industry developments. Members strive to support its activities by promoting the safe and effective use of Powered Access.


IPAF serves as a forum for those who are active in the world of powered access. It has played a key role in promoting many of the design, safety and testing procedures that are now established in the industry. Their training programme is certified by TÜV as conforming to ISO 18878. More than 100,000 Operators are trained annually through a global network of over 600 training centres.

IPAF’s Accident Reporting Project

MEWPs remain one of the safest means to carry out temporary work at height. However, accidents can and do happen. IPAF launched its Accident Reporting Project in January 2012 as a collection point for the reporting and measuring of serious accidents involving MEWPs, AWPs or MCWPs. It builds a comprehensive database of all reported accidents in a common format and in one location.

IPAF Accident reporting database

Data gathered enables IPAF and other organisations to analyse common trends. Manufacturers, rental companies, contractors and end-users of powered access equipment are encouraged to report accidents, as data gathered enables IPAF to propose actions for improvements. The project is open to all members and non-members, and includes an option for anonymous reporting.

IPAF Training Categories

IPAF MEWP Training

Image by kind permission of GT Access Ltd Copyright © 2015

What the law requires

The law requires that employees must be properly trained on the equipment they use at work. The most widely recognised proof of professional training for Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWP) operatives is the International Powered Access Federation’s Powered Access Licence (PAL Card). It is awarded to operators who successfully complete training and remains valid for a full five years.

IPAF MEWP Operator training

IPAF Operator training courses instruct an applicant to prepare for and safely operate various types of Mobile Elevating Work Platforms. They generally last 1 – 3 days dependent on the applicant, machine category Static Vertical (1a) , Static Boom (1b), Mobile Vertical (3a), Mobile Boom (3b) and size. They involve a combination of both theory and practical testing. Successful applicants get a Certificate, Powered Access Licence (PAL Card) and a User Log Book.

Additional IPAF training categories

IPAF Instructor Assessment programme »

The Instructor Assessment programme guides a potential instructor to understand the working of IPAF training programmes and assess their knowledge on the machines and ability to convey information to course candidates. There is a minimum entry criteria of 36 Months’ of MEWP Operating Experience; Operator (PAL Card held for 6 months minimum); Demonstrator (PAL Card held for 3 months minimum); MEWPs for Managers; evidence of acceptable instructional technique training (3 days minimum); successful completion of an approved Harness Instructor Course and evidence of HSE required standard for First Aid at Work training level.

IPAF MEWPs for Managers (MM) Management Training »

Companies who use MEWPs need to know what their Management and legal responsibilities are as the principle duty-holders. This essential one day course covers what managers and supervisors need to know about the safe use of MEWPs on site, from planning the job to conducting a risk assessment for selecting the correct equipment and mitigating any possible risk.

IPAF Competent Assessed Person (CAP) Programme »

The Competent Assessed Persons (CAP) programme focuses on the crucial aspect of machine safety. It is intended to provide guidance for platform engineers on compliance with regulatory requirements and to offer documented evidence that individuals can be regarded as competent persons to plan, manage, and carry out, necessary thorough examinations of MEWPs.

IPAF (PAL+) Advanced MEWP Operator Training Course »

Employers who want their operators to undergo more advanced and extensive MEWP training, can opt to engage them in an additional one day course. PAL+ is category specific training aimed at operators working in higher risk or challenging environments. On completion, the MEWP operative will have a “+” qualification added to each of the relevant categories on their PAL Card.

IPAF Harness Use and Inspection (H) Training Course »

The Harness Use and Inspection course is for MEWP operatives and their co-workers who work from boom type platforms (1b + 3b). Wearing a suitable safety harness as per Technical Guidance Note (TGN H1/08/12) provides protection against platform ejection. This essential course educates the safe use, fitting and personal pre-use inspection of a safety harness.

IPAF Loading and Unloading (LOAD) Training Course »

The Loading and Unloading of MEWPs is a potentially risky activity, as findings from accidents show. About a third of accidents recorded by rental companies involve MEWP delivery drivers. It is imperative that Managers, Supervisors and Drivers know how to plan for their MEWP deliveries, safe collection and transportation by road, both to and from a work site.

IPAF Demonstrator (D) MEWP Hand-Over / Familiarisation »

The Demonstrator course provides instruction for an experienced operator to familiarise other IPAF trained operators on MEWPs which have characteristics that differ significantly from their previous training i.e. (weight, height, width, length, limitations or complexity). This course is suitable for those who need to deliver hand-over demonstrations (a basic instruction) for MEWPs.

IPAF Push Around Vertical (PAV) MEWP Operator Training Course »

Low-level access describes an innovative and relatively new sector within the access industry. The term is generally used to denote Push Around Vertical (PAV) equipment, used to operate in environments approximately around 4.5-5m working height, usually internal and on flat, level surfaces.  However, as with any equipment it is important that operators receive suitable training.

IPAF UK National Training Centres

If you are UK based and are interested in Professional Training to use a Push Around Vertical (PAV), Scissor Lift, Boom type Platform, a more specialist Static Trailer, Van, Truck or Tracked Mounted Boom, or a management based course, we can help. Please get in touch Contact Us »