First-time users

If you are new to powered access, this page offers some useful starting points and background information.

Powered access refers to equipment that is designed to lift personnel, tools and materials to work safely at height. The most common types of powered access equipment are Mobile Elevating Work Platforms or MEWPs, and Mast Climbing Work Platforms (MCWPs).

Powered access is the safest way to carry out temporary work at height. Operators and supervisors should always be properly trained and use the right equipment for the job.

MEWPs are also sometimes referred to as aerial work platforms, cherry pickers, scissor lifts, booms, mast lifts etc and are categorised by type as follows:

  • Static Vertical (1A)
    Vertical personnel platforms (static)
  • Static Boom (1B, 1B+)
    Self-propelled booms (outriggers), trailers/push-arounds, vehicle-mounted platforms
  • Mobile Vertical (3A, 3A+)
    Scissor lifts, vertical personnel platforms (mobile)
  • Mobile Boom (3B, 3B+)
    Self-propelled booms
  • Push Around Vertical (PAV)
    Push around verticals
  • Insulated Aerial Device (IAD)
    With some degree of protection from electrical discharge
  • Specialist machines (SPECIAL)
    Specialist machines

MEWP Categories

The "+" symbol means that the operator has successfully completed the PAL+ course, which covers additional practical training and testing on the machine category indicated. The operator has successfully demonstrated his/her ability to operate powered access equipment safely and effectively in challenging work environments.


To ensure the safe use of powered access equipment, all operators should be properly trained. IPAF training from an IPAF-approved training centre is the best way to ensure you can safely work at height. Theory and practical based training teach operators and supervisors about their legal responsibilities and that of their employers, as well as how to safely operate a MEWP. Successful trainees receive a PAL Card (Powered Access Licence) which is accepted around the world as proof of safety and competency when operating the relevant powered access equipment.

Read more about training and find a training centre near you.


There is a wide range of resources about powered access and working at height available to operators, managers and safety professionals. The IPAF Resource Library contains a range of guidance and practical advice on the safe use of MEWPs and MCWPs. Guidance on Buying a Pre-Owned MEWP. Most of this information is freely available to download or order printed versions. The FAQ section of this website covers a range of common questions about powered access and working at height.


IPAFs mission for 35 years since inception has been to promote powered access as a safe way to conduct temporary work at height, driving the movement to promote safety and raise standards in the industry.

Be part of IPAF's worldwide membership, join a global movement to ensure a safer powered access industry. Membership of IPAF is open to platform users, manufacturers, distributors, rental and training companies. Benefits include:

  • Access to a wealth of valuable, practical information on legal, technical and commercial aspects of platform use;
  • The chance to influence the growing body of legislation and regulations that govern platform use.

IPAF members also profit from a portfolio of services including access to industry events; industry data reports and business intelligence; safety, technical and best practice guidance; special offers and discounts only available to IPAF members; a free subscription to leading industry publication Access International in print and online.