Working at height remains the number one cause of accidents in the workplace and as such there is great pressure on the bodies behind training programmes designed to make working at height safer for all. These bodies are IPAF and PASMA – both of whom are responsible for accrediting the most important and recognised powered access training courses in the UK.
IPAF is an acronym for the International Powered Access Federation. It is the accreditor of a whole range of courses training individuals to become fully competent in the safe operation of equipment for working at height as well as training managers in how to oversee these operations.
PASMA stands for Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ and Manufacturers’ Association (you can see why the acronym is used!) and provides courses approved by the HSE and UK Contractors group for those who work at height, on mobile access towers. While there is considerable overlap, it is simplest to think of IPAF courses being focussed on the safe use of powered access and PASMA courses covering mobile access towers.
The IPAF training for platform operators has evolved out of considerable industry research and is certified by TÜV, meaning it conforms to the international standard (ISO 18878). Of course, IPAF is not a training provider, rather an accreditor and training is provided by dedicated training providers. Courses are a mix of theory and practice culminating in a written test to demonstrate competency. When delegates qualify they receive a PAL (Powered Access Licence) card that remains valid for up to five years and can be instantly verified over the phone with IPAF.
Types of IPAF courses
There are a fair few IPAF courses and these are some of the main ones.
- The IPAF Operator Course, which includes training for scissor lifts, mobile booms, static booms and PAVs.
- IPAF MEWPS Course (for managers), which helps managers to become fully responsible for the health and safety of all on site.
- IPAF Safety Harness Training, covering the use of safety harnesses and lanyards.
- Cherry Picker Training Course. This is for those using mobile or static booms to help them to work at height.
PASMA training courses are all fully approved by HSE and the UK Contractors Group and is recognized industry wide as the approved provider of qualifications for working at height on mobile access towers. There are four major courses provided by PASMA for working at height, as follows.
- Towers for Users, which covers health and safety regulations when it comes to working at height, safe use of towers and their components and inspection.
- Low Level access, covering lower level equipment. This course deals with assembly and dismantlement, as well as safe moving and inspection of equipment.
- Work at Height Essentials. This course is for those working at height or employing staff who work at height and covers all the basics.
- Combined Towers and Low Level course.
Keeping on top of working at height training is essential in the battle to reduce the amount of injuries and fatalities in the workplace. So much has been done, but there is still work to do.