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IPAF; Ensuring The Safety Of Those Working At Height

Jul 17, 2008
The International Powered Access Federation or IPAF for short is a body that over the last twenty five years has strived to promote safe working procedures for powered access machinery workers. It has attempted to pursue these goals by producing training schedules for these workers so they have knowledge of safety issues and how to implement safe working practices. Formed in 1983 IPAF has worked towards these objectives as a non-profit organisation producing training guidelines and setting the standard in terms of safety procedures in the world of powered access.

Through a large network of affiliated training centres IPAF has been able to deliver its message worldwide; at all times trainers are strictly regulated to ensure they adhere to IPAF recommendations and regulations. Once training has been completed an operative is given a Powered Access License meaning that they are safe to work on all manner of powered access machinery such as scissor lifts and cherry pickers. In recent years the Work at Height Regulations (2005) introduced by the British government has meant that in this country at least, the work of IPAF has been enhanced by statutory regulations to improve worker safety.

These Work at Height Regulations apply to anyone who works somewhere where there is a risk of falling and injury. The reason they were created was to prevent accidental deaths whilst working at height. In terms of responsibility, a business owner, a self employed worker and even site managers are legally responsible for ensuring the safety of those working at height. Part of this responsibility is to ensure that all work is correctly planned taking into account the effects of weather; that all equipment is safe to use and properly maintained and any risks such as fragile surfaces and falling objects are controlled effectively.

IPAF comes under the responsibilities defined by regulations as the manger or supervisor must ensure that all workers on the machinery have had adequate training to be deemed as competent. This applies not only to working methods, but the procedures of assembly and disassembly as well as the maintenance of machinery. In addition, those who are deemed competent must train any workers on how to avoid falling and how to fall correctly so any effects of a fall will be limited.

One of the safety initiatives that has been produced by IPAF to complement the government legislation has been the "clunk-click" campaign. Fundamentally this initiative works towards the situation where anyone who is working at height is always wearing a full body safety harness to ensure that any falls do not result in serious injury. This harness is always in contact with a secure anchor point meaning that even if a worker slips and cannot place his hands on a point, the harness will take their weight and prevent the fall.

IPAF, having been in existence for so long is regarded to be the most authoritative resource on all matters pertaining to powered access machinery safety. As such, the government uses the body as an advisor when drafting legislation on safety issues. By working in accordance with not only the British government but governments worldwide has meant that IPAF training courses can be deemed as an all encompassing approach, taking into account regulations from a large number of legislative bodies. Despite this, the constant upheaval of legally defined safety regulations means that training courses are updated regularly to adapt to changes to legislation.

Thanks to its global approach and conscientious working methods the training offered by IPAF regulated centres means that safety for those working at height is now better than it has been in the past. That said, the work of this body is never fully completed, as technological developments and regulations come into effect, IPAF will continue to strive towards making the world of working at height safer.
About the Author
Regulatory compliance expert Thomas Pretty looks into the importance of IPAF training for those working at height.
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