VR and eLearning extend options to renew IPAF training

IPAF PAL+ on a VR Simulator

New ways to renew and extend MEWP operator training have been made available by the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF), giving operators renewing their PAL Card and training certification or taking their advanced operator PAL+ training further options to use virtual reality simulators (VR sims) and eLearning.

IPAF’s extensive network of Training Centres are able to supplement the way they offer the IPAF MEWP Operator Renewal Training and IPAF PAL+ Advanced Operator Training courses with using new VR sim and eLearning options. Candidates can choose to take their theory test in either eLearning or instructor-led virtual sessions, in addition to the usual classroom-based module. Training Centres can also offer renewal practical modules in addition to the existing PAL+ Advanced Course using a VR sim.

This offers greater flexibility to the candidate and the training centre, and can mean a saving in terms of time. Using VR sims means training is less likely to be disrupted by poor weather, and increases the range of locations where it can be delivered. Training Centres could reduce the cost and space required to maintain their fleet of MEWPs.

The new options for delivering the IPAF renewal course or the PAL+ advanced course have undergone extensive trials involving IPAF staff and members firms, including Serious Labs, the Edmonton-based VR Simulator specialist, as well as IPAF Training Centres and major contractors. The enhanced range of next-generation learning options has now been approved by IPAF’s Training Committee and IPAF Council.

Paul Roddis, IPAF’s Training Manager, comments: “The pandemic called for greater flexibility in the way IPAF’s Training Centres deliver courses, to provide maximum convenience and bio-security while maintaining the high standards that underpin all of our ISO-accredited training. While the worst of the pandemic is behind us, we are still seeing increased demand for eLearning, as well as instructor-led remote classrooms.

“Alongside this we have been working closely with our members, including Serious Labs, to develop the offer using VR sims and to really tap into the incredible possibilities the virtual or extended reality environment offer. We have road-tested the PAL+ and now the IPAF MEWP Operator Renewal Course over the past two years and we are confident that for experienced MEWP operators looking to refresh or extend their training certification the VR sim is every bit as good as using real machines.

“We hope that these added options will allow training providers, candidates and their employers to tailor delivery of IPAF operator courses to best suit their preferences and requirements, for example by setting up an on-site virtual assessment centre for a contractor client, or leading a group of candidates through their theory eLearning in a virtual classroom led by a real-life instructor.

“Of course, operators will still be able to renew or extend their IPAF training using real MEWPs, but these added options will no doubt be of great benefit to training candidates, IPAF Training Centres and Instructors alike. As before, those seeking to qualify for their first IPAF PAL Card will be required to successfully complete their practical element and assessment using a real MEWP.”

Another update approved recently by IPAF’s Training Committee and the IPAF Council allows training candidates seeking to renew their training to self-certify that they are an experienced operator by signing a declaration to that effect. They may also use IPAF’s new ePAL app’s digital log book to demonstrate relevant equipment experience.

Peter Douglas, IPAF CEO & MD, says: “These additions to IPAF’s training offer fully embrace the possibilities afforded by new technology, and are borne out of ingenuity, informed by the flexible ways our Training Centres learned to work to help meet continued demand for quality powered access training through the pandemic.

“I’d like to thank our dedicated team and our members, as well as their clients and customers, for working with us to develop these new options, to ensure they are fully tested and that they conform to the high standards that underpin IPAF’s training programme. I am sure we will continue to receive valuable feedback that will allow us to continue tailoring and evolving IPAF training to suit changing demand in future.”

Jim Colvin, CEO of Serious Labs, adds: “IPAF’s forward-thinking leadership has introduced many innovative solutions. The ability to renew MEWP operator certification using simulators is a milestone for the safety and training industry. This technology will help make IPAF PAL Card renewals more convenient and accessible, including renewals on-site or transforming virtually any space into an assessment centre.”

● For more information about IPAF training, including the full range of courses and modules available via eLearning, please visit www.ipaf.org/training, where users can access a searchable map function to find their nearest IPAF-approved Training Centre.

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