IPAF ePAL app a 'gamechanger' for construction safety

ePAL app with a PAL Card and a MEWP Operator

A new digital app from the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) for users of MEWP and MCWP equipment will be a “game-changer” for worksite safety and efficiency and marks a stride forward in IPAF’s drive for greater sector sustainability.

IPAF’s ePAL is set to be launched in April. It will be free to use and will feature a digital IPAF PAL Card, operator logbook and operator safety guides. It will also allow operators to receive the latest IPAF safety information and best practice guidance, and will ultimately allow construction managers to quickly and easily verify an operative’s qualifications, as well as for the operator to log and share their equipment time digitally.

The ePAL app signals a step forward in IPAF’s ongoing drive to boost sustainability, as it shifts away from issuing plastic, credit-card sized PAL Cards via the post to every training candidate successfully completing or renewing an IPAF operator course.

The app will also phase out paper certification of qualifications and logging of machine time and replace the printed paper version of IPAF’s operator safety guide, and overall will speed up the processing time and resource required to issue training candidates with their PAL Card and certification, which at present must be replaced each time a new machine category qualification is added or part of their training is renewed.

In 2020, IPAF passed the landmark of issuing 2 million PAL Cards globally; the digital version of the PAL Card will streamline the process and make it more environmentally sustainable, cutting the use of paper, ink, plastic, packaging and international shipping.

Peter Douglas, IPAF CEO & MD, comments: “When IPAF launched the PAL Card as a plastic credit card-sized identification containing the holder’s name, photo and categories of machine they were qualified to operate, it was revolutionary. Since then technology has evolved, which makes this latest step forward possible.

“Today the latest plastic PAL Cards are all smart capable, can be used to secure access to machines for authorised and trained personnel, and most recently the cards were updated to be able to carry the CSCS holographic logo, giving access to all Build UK sites to qualifying operators.

“Therefore this wholesale move from a plastic PAL Card to a digital one is a natural evolution. Developing an operator app has been a key priority for IPAF since I took up post in 2019, and we were excited to team up with IPAF member Trackunit to bring its considerable technical expertise to bear to roll this out.

“IPAF’s ePAL will bring benefits for operators and IPAF training centres alike, while allowing us to streamline and digitise our processes, including issuing and renewing IPAF PAL Cards and helping operators keep track of their machine operating experience via the digital logbook function. The app will also offer an easy way for operators to access the latest relevant safety information and best practice technical guidance from IPAF.

“IPAF seeks to be at the forefront in driving change for our industry and we are involving a wide range of stakeholders to drive this change. IPAF ensures its members are fully consulted and are as involved as much as possible in shaping the future of these technological advancements including the new IPAF ePAL app and its roll-out. These are exciting times.”

Søren Brogaard, CEO of IPAF member firmTrackunit, the Denmark-based telematics specialist that helped develop the app, says: “This will be a real game-changer for the industry.”

Alan Woodage, Health and Safety Manager at Taylor Woodrow, comments: “The introduction of ePAL and digital PAL Cards is another great integration of digital technology welcomed by VINCI Construction UK. As we embrace more digital technologies we become many things: More sustainable; better connected; more engaging; and, ultimately, efficient.”

Mark Atkinson, Health & Safety Manager, Newton Energi Ltd, adds: “I welcome the introduction of ePAL and digital PAL Cards on-site and the safety and security benefits they bring. The digitisation of PAL Cards and the features of the new IPAF operator app support ease of use and operator safety.”

IPAF will launch the app in April in the UK and Ireland. It will initially be offered in English with other languages to follow. It will be available for Apple iOS and Android devices and will be updated with additional features as usage demands and developing technology allows.

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