FAQs

  • Can candidates who have never used a MEWP participate in the operator course?

    Yes, however, this may affect the length of the course and/or the candidates’ likelihood of passing.

  • Can I use my PAL Card abroad?

    The PAL Card is increasingly recognised worldwide. However, the employer and usually also the self-employed have a duty to know and abide by the legislation of the country they are planning to work in. IPAF may be able to assist with a summary of the legislation for countries in which we operate (please contact the IPAF head office in the UK). Ultimately it will be down to the site manager or equivalent at the differing work sites in each country to decide whether they are willing to accept the training you have received. IPAF's increasing worldwide reputation means that the PAL Card’s acceptance is growing daily.

  • Can IPAF training be done on site?

    Yes, provided that there are suitable facilities and equipment. Please discuss with your selected training centre.

  • Can you have a shock absorbing pack in a restraint lanyard?

    Yes – if it is adjustable and used correctly as a restraint device (adjusted to be as short as possible), the lanyard will not be able to gain sufficient force/momentum to deploy the shock absorbing pack, thereby acting as a restraint lanyard.

  • Do I have to wear a harness or life jacket when working over water in a MEWP?

    Working next to or over water must be assessed to identify whether the greatest risk of injury to the operator is from falling from the MEWP basket or drowning if the MEWP falls into the water.  The decision can then be made as to whether it is most appropriate to wear a harness to address the fall risk or whether a harness should not be worn due to the risk of drowning. Life jackets, not harnesses, should be worn where there is a risk of drowning.

  • Do I need training on a small static vertical machine without drive, also known as a Push Around Vertical (PAV)?

    Yes, you need training, and there is a half-day course for this. If you have a valid licence with Static Vertical (1a) or Mobile Vertical (3a), you will only require familiarisation on the machine, which should be recorded in your IPAF log book. See IPAF technical guidance F1 on familiarisation.

  • Do trainees need a safety awareness course before going on an IPAF MEWP course?

    Safety awareness relevant to MEWPs is an integral part of the IPAF course and therefore previous safety awareness is not necessary for the operator, demonstrator and instructor courses.

  • Do users of mast climbing work platforms need a PAL Card?

    The users of a Mast Climbing Work Platform (MCWP) would be expected to have undergone as a minimum:

    • Basic Health & Safety Awareness training (offered by many organisations)
    • Basic MCWP Awareness, Regulations & Guidance
    • Product Specific - Operational Controls
    • Product Specific - Emergency Systems
    • Pre-use / Daily Checks

    Demonstration should be completed by a competent person (Demonstrator) who has sufficient knowledge and experience of the MCWP to be used. This demonstration is best completed on site with the specific make and model of MCWP to be used.

    IPAF has a training course specific to demonstrators of MCWPs but does not issue licences for Users as their tasks with the MCWP are not deemed sufficient to warrant this level of certification.

    Drawn up after consultation with the HSE.

  • Does a passenger in a MEWP require a licence before they can go in a MEWP?

    No, only the operator requires a licence. However, the passenger will be required to wear the correct PPE.

  • Does the operator course include harness training?

    The operator course includes:

    • IPAF technical guidance H1 on harnesses
    • Harness wearing: How to put a harness on
    • Harness adjustment: Ensuring candidates have no slack in a correctly fitted harness
    • Lanyard adjustment: Adjusting for machine and candidate
    • Attachment to MEWP: Designated anchor point and karabiner locked
    • Proof of inspection: Asking the candidates to check if each harness has proof of inspection. Inspection is not covered in the operator course.

    Alternatively, the IPAF harness course is designed to instruct a user to select, inspect and use harnesses and associated safety personal protective equipment safety when using a MEWP.

  • How do I add a category to my PAL Card?

    If operators want to add a category to their PAL Card, they need to successfully complete the IPAF approved Theory Test Paper. In addition to this, they must achieve the required standard when operating each of the machine categories that they wish to add on to their PAL Card.

    If demonstrators want to add a category to their PAL Card, they must do the operator theory test and practical test on that category, then do the demonstrator course.

  • How do I obtain a replacement for a lost PAL Card?

    If you have lost your PAL Card (Powered Access Licence) you will need to order a replacement, there will be a fee for a replacement card. Please see the Lost PAL Card page.

  • How do I renew my PAL Card when it expires? (NB: PAL Cards are valid for 5 years.)

    Contact an IPAF training centre. Only operators or demonstrators who have been filling out their log books (60 entries over 5 years, 10 of which should be in the final year prior to expiry) will be eligible for a renewal test. Those who have not been filling out their log books will not be eligible for a renewal test and will have to re-sit the full operator/demonstrator course again.

    All renewals must be done before the expiry date. Otherwise, an operator will have to do a full operator course and a demonstrator must do the full operator and demonstrator courses.

  • How long does it take to become an IPAF instructor?

    This will depend on the experience of the candidate and any country-specific requirements. Please contact IPAF for further details (info@ipaf-training.com).

  • If a candidate does not pass either the theory or practical test, how long should he or she wait before repeating the course and tests?

    It is possible for the candidate to re-take the course the following day. However, it is recommended that the candidate, employer and instructor discuss the reasons for failing prior to a re-take so that any appropriate corrective action can be taken. A failure of the theory test means that the applicant will have to re-sit the entire course on another day.

    If the theory test has been passed but the practical test(s) failed, the applicant would be required to retake the practical test(s) within 4 weeks of passing the theory test. Failure to retake the practical test(s) within 4 weeks of passing the theory test would mean the applicant would need to re-sit and pass the theory test prior to taking the practical test(s).

  • In what wind speed can a MEWP work?

    All MEWPs (except those designed specifically for indoor use) are designed to operate in wind speeds up to a maximum which should be marked on the machine. Operation in wind speeds above this maximum may cause instability.

    Under BS EN280:2001+A2:2009 (Mobile elevating work platforms – Design calculations – Stability criteria – Construction – Safety – Examinations and tests) the maximum design wind speed in which a MEWP can work is 12.5 m/s (28 mph). Wind forces are assumed to act horizontally at the centre of area of the parts of the MEWP and persons and equipment on the work platform, and shall be taken to be dynamic forces. This does not apply to MEWPs intended for indoor use only.

    Wind speed can be measured using an anemometer.

    It is very important to realise that wind speed increases with height and may be 50% greater at a height of 20 metres above ground level.

    Care must be taken when handling building cladding, sheet materials, panels and other such materials which can act as "sails" and seriously affect the stability of a MEWP, especially in gusty wind conditions. For the same reason, signboards and the like must not be applied even temporarily to the platform.

    You should be aware of the shielding and funnelling effects of high buildings which may cause high wind speeds on days when the wind speed in open areas is low.

    Other sources of local high wind speed to consider are aircraft slipstreams at airports and high-sided vehicles on motorways.

  • In what wind speed can an MCWP work?

    All MCWPs used out-of-doors or otherwise exposed to wind whilst in service shall be regarded as being affected by a minimum wind pressure in accordance with:

    Minimum design wind data, in service
    Freestanding or MCWP during erection/dismantling: 12,7m/s (Wind velocity), 100N/m2 (Wind pressure)
    Tied MCWP: 15,5m/s (Wind velocity), 150N/m2 (Wind pressure)

    Wind forces are assumed to act horizontally at the centre of the wind area of the exposed structural parts of the MCWP.

  • Is it acceptable for someone to operate a MEWP from the ground controls with a passenger in the platform?

    This is NOT usually allowed as the operator will be unable to judge distances from objects whilst on the ground. However, under certain circumstances and in accordance with a thorough risk assessment, it might be justifiable. An example is that of a cameraman at an event in a position away from all aerial hazards, all possible safety measures having been taken such as briefing the passenger about the emergency lowering controls and having the operator close to hand at the chassis.

  • Is it acceptable to place netting around a vertical lift to prevent items being dropped through the railings?

    The use of netting will be a decision based upon a site, job and machine specific risk assessment.

    The attaching of netting or other materials to the handrails of a MEWP to prevent tools and materials falling from height will increase the wind resistance of the raised platform. Thus the manufacturer's recommended maximum wind speed will have to be downrated to compensate for any increased resistance of the platform when raised.

    The amount it will be reduced will depend on the material fitted. Any reduction in manufacturer's recommended wind speed rating will have to be made known to potential operators of the MEWP. The weight of the material fastened to the handrails will have to be taken into account when considering the safe working load limitations of the MEWP.

    The correct positioning of the platform at height in relationship to the task to be performed will be influential in preventing the possibility of tools and materials falling from the platform.

    The tethering of tools and materials should be also considered as a possible option to prevent objects falling from the raised platform.

    Where netting is fitted to the handrails, it may increase the possible trip hazard to occupants of the platform and also increase the risk of “snagging” from internal or external objects.

  • Is it acceptable when in the platform of a MEWP to stand on a guard rail?

    No.

  • Is it appropriate to exit the MCWP platform when working at height?

    No, unless a rigorous risk assessment carried out as part of planning the job indicates that this is the safest and most effective means of accessing a particular location, taking into account the availability on site of other more suitable access equipment and the practicability of providing the same within the required timescales for the task to be carried out. This will need to be taken into account during the installation process.

  • Is it appropriate to exit the MEWP platform when working at height?

    No, unless a rigorous risk assessment carried out as part of planning the job indicates that this is the safest and most effective means of accessing a particular location, taking into account the availability on site of other more suitable access equipment and the practicability of providing the same within the required timescales for the task to be carried out.

    See IPAF's technical guidance E2 on exiting the platform at height and this extract from BS 8460 (the British Standard on “Safe use of MEWPs – Code of practice”) on the subject.

  • Is it mandatory for an IPAF training centre to have an employed instructor?

    No, it is not necessary for the training centre to employ an instructor as long as it has a nominated instructor.

  • Is it necessary for a ground-based person (designated to help lower the MEWP in an emergency) to hold an IPAF PAL Card?

    It is preferable for any nominated MEWP ground rescue person to have undergone some form of formal training relevant to the task. However, all nominated MEWP ground rescue persons should, as a minimum, have been familiarised with the MEWP being used and the rescue procedures in place, in order that they are competent to lower the MEWP platform using the ground/emergency controls in the work situations to which they are exposed.

    Further information on rescue procedures can be found in the Best Practice Guidance for MEWPs on Avoiding Trapping/Crushing Injuries.

  • Is it necessary to wear a harness in an MCWP?

    It is not normally necessary for personnel working from a vertical lift to wear fall protection equipment, other than in exceptional circumstances. 

    During installation, alteration and dismantling

    The work platform of an MCWP is provided with guard-rails and toe boards to protect the occupants from falling. Consequently the use of harnesses is not required during use of MCWPs unless any part of the guard-rail system has been removed by a competent person (e.g. to enhance access to the façade of a building), in which case a risk assessment should be carried out to ascertain the need for, and specification of, fall arrest/work restraint equipment. The risk of falling during installation, alteration and dismantling should be addressed in the installation, alteration and dismantling method statement.

    In the event of a risk assessment requiring an anchor point for a harness, the manufacturer should be consulted.

    Before attaching fall protection equipment to the work platform, the user organisation‑appointed person should ascertain both the location and suitability of anchor points.

  • Should MCWP trailing power cable be steel armoured?

    No – the armour would prevent the cable from collecting in the drum provided by the manufacturer and could cause additional hazards.

  • What are the minimum dimensions of a training room and a practical test area?

    IPAF requires a fully fitted training room which should be a minimum of 15m² of floor space or 2.5m² per person, whichever is larger. The premises should be clean and tidy. The middle of the practical training area should have a radius of 75% of the maximum operating envelope of a specific machine used and should be capable of accommodating the practical test as outlined in the IPAF Operations Manual.

  • What category does an underbridge unit come under?

    There are four basic types of underbridge unit:

    1. Gantry type: IPAF category = Special
    2. Static boom type: IPAF category =  Static Boom (1b) 
      Type 1: Travelling is only allowed with the MEWP in its transport position. Group B: MEWPs where the vertical projection of the centre of area of the platform at the maximum chassis inclination specified by the manufacturer may be outside the tipping lines. 
    3. Mobile boom type: IPAF category = Mobile Boom (3b)
      Type 3: Travelling with raised work platform is controlled from a point of control at the work platform. Group B: MEWPs where the vertical projection of the centre of area of the platform at the maximum chassis inclination specified by the manufacturer may be outside the tipping lines.
    4. Boom type with travelling with raised work platform controlled from a point of control at the chassis (Type 2): IPAF category = Special.
  • What is a CAP Card?

    The much-coveted CAP (Competent Assessed Person) Card is proof of passing the CAP assessment and the engineer's ability to plan, manage or carry out thorough examinations of powered access equipment. CAP Cards are valid for five years.

  • What is a PAL Card?

    IPAF’s PAL Card (Powered Access Licence) is the proof provided to all persons who successfully complete training and testing on an IPAF machine-based course.

  • What is required to become an IPAF instructor?

    In order to deliver IPAF training courses, you need to be employed by an IPAF training centre or become a registered IPAF independent instructor member.

    To become an IPAF instructor, you must meet the following criteria:

    • 36 months’ MEWP operating experience 
    • IPAF Operator Licence held for 6 months minimum
    • IPAF Demonstrator Licence held for 3 months minimum
    • IPAF MEWPs for Managers course successfully completed
    • Evidence of Acceptable Instructional Techniques training (3 days minimum)
    • Successful completion of an approved Harness Instructor course
    • Evidence of IPAF MEWP-specific Instructor training (4 days minimum) 
    • Evidence of HSE required standard for First Aid at Work training level
    • Successful completion of IPAF Instructor Examination
    • Mentoring

    To become an independent instructor member, please e-mail the IPAF Training Operations Coordinator.

  • What is the difference between full members and associate members?

    IPAF is registered with the UK Financial Services Authority as an industrial and provident society (No. 30998R) and therefore must have two levels of membership:

    • Full members who have full voting rights and full access to all member services, and
    • Associate members (associations, company associates, press, individual associates and small users) who do not have full voting rights, but have full access to all member services. 
  • What is the maximum time period allowed between the theory and practical parts without having to repeat the whole course?

    Practical tests not taking place immediately following the theory test must be undertaken within the subsequent four-week period.

    After the four-week period, in order to renew or upgrade a licence, an operator must successfully complete the IPAF Renewal/Upgrade theory course and test, which is shorter than the theory part of the main operator course.

    If the practical part of the course has been rescheduled due to poor weather etc., then practical tests not taking place immediately following the theory test must be undertaken within the subsequent four-week period.

  • What is the purpose of the operators' log book and who must sign it?

    The log book is an operator’s record of machine usage/experience and whilst it can be signed by the operator, it acts as better evidence and therefore should preferably be signed by the site manager/employer/supervisor.

  • What should be done if the operator has not filled in the log book or it is not available?

    In the event that an operator or demonstrator does not have a filled-in logbook, he or she will need to take the operator course, and in the case of a demonstrator, the operator and demonstrator courses.

  • What should be done to renew the PAL Card if it is already expired?

    An expired operator or demonstrator PAL Card cannot be renewed and will require full re-training and testing.

  • Who is responsible for alerting the holder of a PAL Card when the card is expiring?

    Responsibility for ensuring a PAL Card is current remains with either the operator or the employer (this will vary depending on their contractual relationship). The relevant training centres will however often endeavour to remind the operator or employer.

  • Who is responsible for ground conditions?

    It varies from job to job - check. 
    Invariably the party paying for the MEWP will be responsible - so check the ground conditions. 
    Assuming otherwise could be expensive if not accounted for in the quote.

  • Who is the legal owner of the PAL Card?

    PAL Cards remain the property of International Powered Access Federation Ltd.

  • Who keeps the card and certificate after training is completed?

    IPAF suggests that the operator should have the issued card on his/her person at all times when working with MEWPs and the employer should keep the certificate.

  • Why are some MEWPs fitted with anemometers and others not?

    Some MEWPs are purchased with the anemometer at the point of order as anemometers are not usually fitted as standard by the manufacturer. In addition, an anemometer can be expensive, can be damaged, and requires regular calibration.