Horizon Platforms Blog

The Ultimate Guide to Access Platforms Training

Are you wondering what IPAF and PASMA training entails? It’s highly important for anyone who is planning to operate access equipment to undertake thorough training. MEWPs are complex and potentially dangerous pieces of machinery, so knowing how to safely operate cherry pickers or scissor lifts is imperative. 

It is a legal requirement to be fully trained before operating a MEWP and, though specific training courses aren’t stipulated, operators will need to provide evidence of training before working with a powered access platform.  

In this blog, Horizon Platforms shares everything you need to know about access platform training, what to expect from an IPAF and PASMA training course and how you can meet legal regulations for operating access platforms. 

What is IPAF Training?

IPAF training has been developed by the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) to ensure industry professionals meet legal training requirements and are able to safely operate powered access platforms. IPAF training courses have set an industry standard, helping to reduce accidents and improve safety. 

There are different types of IPAF training courses and it’s important to choose the right one depending on the equipment the operator will be handling. IPAF 1b, which covers static boom operation, and IPAF 3a/3b, a combined training course for self-propelled vertical and boom platforms, are perhaps the most widely known IPAF courses available. These courses provide all the theoretical and practical knowledge needed to operate a MEWP safely before real work commences. This includes key dos and don’ts designed to keep operators and those around them safe while working at height. 

If you have specific questions around IPAF training, you may find the answer in our helpful IPAF Training FAQs. 

What is PASMA Training?

The Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ and Manufacturers’ Association, commonly known as PASMA, is an international not-for-profit association that specialises in offering training and publishing safety-related guidance for the mobile access towers industry. PASMA’s overarching mission is to improve the industry’s safety and standards on an international scale. 

PASMA’s work positively impacts those working in the access towers industry, providing best practice guidance and industry standard training. It works with trade and professional bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive and Access & Scaffold Industry Association, ensuring its training schemes and safety information meets regulation and enhances safety standards. 

Its Towers for Users training course is considered an industry must-have, but PASMA offers a wide range of courses specifically developed for the mobile access towers industry, enabling you to select the appropriate course for your needs. 

The Difference Between IPAF and Pasma Training

IPAF and PASMA training cover different aspects of working at height, so those working within the industry must select the most appropriate course for their needs and the equipment they will be using. Powered and non-powered equipment both require different training. 

PASMA training will focus on non-powered mobile access towers, whereas IPAF training specifically focuses on how to safely use MEWPs, such as cherry pickers and scissor lifts. Assembly and uses of different types of equipment vary, so it’s vital that operators have comprehensive training that allows them to conduct their role safely. 

Striving to be the standard proof of competence, both IPAF and PASMA raise the bar for working at height and mobile tower safety. 

How Do You Pass an IPAF or PASMA Training Course?

Successfully taking theory and practical examinations as part of an accredited training programme will result in you passing IPAF or PASMA training. Tests are required to ensure operators, demonstrators, instructors and managers have a clear understanding of legislation and can competently and safely operate access equipment. 

Theory tests and practical elements are normally completed during the course but, if they are unable to be completed at the same time, course attendees will be able to take each test separately as theory tests remain valid for four weeks. 

If a candidate were to fail their theory test, they would need to retake the entire course. However, if a theory test is passed but a practical test is failed the individual is able to retake just the practical test within four weeks. Fortunately for those who choose Horizon Platforms, we have a 96% IPAF pass rate, so you can be confident our expert training team will give you all the tools you’ll need to pass your training. 

What Training and Qualifications do MEWP Operators Need?

Anyone responsible for operating or inspecting a powered access platform must undertake some form of training; ideally an IPAF course. Those operating a non-powered mobile access tower should consider a PASMA training course. 

The Legal Training Requirements for MEWP Operators

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 state that individuals are required by law to be able to demonstrate the completion of appropriate training. Similarly, the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) states that lifting operations must be planned by a competent person. However, what constitutes ‘appropriate training’ is currently undefined. 

It’s generally accepted that IPAF and PASMA training courses are the industry standard. These courses are designed to enhance knowledge, minimise health and safety risks, and ultimately prevent incidents from occurring. It’s the responsibility of the employer, contractor and individual to ensure operators are familiar with MEWP controls and have a thorough understanding of safety and emergency procedures prior to using potentially dangerous equipment. 

If those operating mobile platforms are not trained, employers or individuals will be liable for any accident or incident that may occur. Trained individuals are much more likely to be able to reduce the risk of hazards and will have a more thorough understanding of how to safely operate certain equipment. 

Who Delivers Powered Access Training?

IPAF and PASMA training should be delivered by an approved provider to ensure the course is being taught correctly by a qualified professional. MEWP training courses are not about ticking boxes and passing a test – the focus must be on gaining valuable knowledge that will genuinely help those who work with MEWPs carry out their duties successfully and safely. 

Operators are able to access both IPAF and PASMA training through Horizon Platforms, as we are an approved and accredited training provider. 

What Is an IPAF Certificate?

MEWP professionals are given a Powered Access Licence (PAL) card, also known as an IPAF card, certificate or licence, to demonstrate they have passed an IPAF training course. This details the types of machinery the individual is trained to operate and proves that operators and demonstrators have the correct training they need to operate relevant equipment safely. It’s a recognised certification, often setting individuals and organisations apart from poorly-trained competitors. 

While holding a physical card is particularly satisfying, a convenient digital version of the card can be displayed using the ePAL App. Digital storage of your qualifications, expiration date and log book is a quick and simple way to manage your training and certifications. 

How Long Do IPAF and PASMA Cards Last?

You may be wondering how long your PASMA or IPAF certificate lasts. Both PASMA and PAL (IPAF) cards are valid for five years, but there’s an option to renew them ahead of the expiry date. 

How Frequently Do You Need to Renew IPAF or PASMA Training?

Operators and demonstrators must renew their IPAF or PASMA training every five years, which is when the original training certification expires. The renewal test should only take half a day. To make sure operators and demonstrators are able to take a renewal test, they must have an up-to-date log book with a minimum of 60 entries, with at least 10 logs recorded in the past 12 months.

No good training course ever stands still. New regulations, guidance and best practices are developed and training courses are audited and added to on a continuous basis. Both IPAF and PASMA offer the option for qualified MEWP operators and managers to refresh their certification by taking a renewal test rather than completing a full operator course. 

IPAF MEWPs for Managers Training Courses

Those who oversee the work of MEWP operators should achieve additional certification that demonstrates they can ensure work is safely and properly carried out. 

The IPAF MEWPs for Managers course covers various elements, such as thoroughly understanding Health & Safety regulation and machine classifications. This ensures managers are aware of accident prevention and control, and have the in-depth knowledge of relevant regulations needed to prepare for and coordinate the safe operation of cherry pickers and boom lifts. This one-day course is predominantly focused on theory, with a small practical element. 

Instructors must undertake a different type of training too. The IPAF Instructor Training Course is much more intensive, with stringent entry requirements. To qualify for training, the individual must have 36 months’ MEWP operating experience; have held an IPAF Operator Licence for a minimum of six months; and have held an IPAF Demonstrator Licence for at least three months. The instructor course lasts five days, though the individual must also be able to demonstrate First Aid Training, Safety Harness Instructor Training, MEWPS for Managers Training and Instructor Techniques Course Training. Completing the full training course will take 13 days. 

How Can I Find Out More About Powered Access Training?

Here at Horizon Platforms, our qualified trainers deliver a range of courses. With a 96% pass rate, supportive and knowledgeable trainers, multilingual course material and Saturday courses available, our training courses provide a flexible and effective way to learn. 

We practice what we preach, too. Horizon Platforms have been awarded IPAF Rental+ status, demonstrating that we have achieved the highest audit standards in key areas within the business. Safety and good service are our team’s top priorities. All equipment is inspected and our operators are trained to the highest of standards so, when you choose to train with us, you can rest assured we take this responsibility seriously.  Speak to a member of the Horizon Platforms team or search for a training course near you to find the ideal training course to suit your needs today.

If you’re looking for more information and access platform advice, bookmark the Horizon Platform blog to keep up to date.