IPAF aims to reduce fatal incidents and promote the use of VR as part of its 2018-2020 strategic plan

Other focus areas include identifying opportunities to expand with the MEWP industry into new countries to share good practice and creating career paths for people employed in the industry

Aerial work platforms, Mobile elevating work platforms, Safety, IPAF, Training, Strategy


The International Powered Access Federation's (IPAF’s) latest fatal injury rate (FIR) analysis for 2017 reveals that the commonest cause of deaths in 2017 was electrocutions, taking over from falls from the platform in 2016, and countries that saw a spike in the number of fatalities included the US, Spain, France, and Italy. The US, which has around 43% of the global MEWP fleet within its borders, saw the percentage of total reported fatalities rise to more than 80%.

Andrew Delahunt, technical and safety director, IPAF, says: “While the number of fatalities rose from 66 in 2016 to 83 last year, this was owing in no small part to greatly enhanced reporting of accidents and fatalities via IPAF’s ongoing incident reporting project.  IPAF will adapt its safety and training programmes to address these concerning trends.”

One of the key focus areas of IPAF’s recently announced three-year strategic plan (2018–2020) is to impact MEWP usage to reduce the fatal incident rate by creating and sharing global industry standards, campaigns and best practices. Other focus areas include identifying opportunities to expand with the MEWP industry into new countries to share good practice; creating career paths for people employed in the industry, from PDI courses through to fully qualified specialist MEWP technicians, including the development of other operator courses such as for telehandlers; and developing and implementing a strategy to optimise the use of virtual reality (VR), simulators and IPAF’s expanding eLearning offer, while integrating the Smart PAL Card into systems to deliver a full digital experience.

The IPAF also aims to address the challenge of how AWP manufacturers can help redesign the work site of the future to increase productivity and safety at the same time. According to Brad Boehler, president, Skyjack, the answer lies in the adoption of technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality, wearable and smart tech, drones and better connectivity (including telematics) and robotics. Data could drive enhanced and real-time tracking of stats such as real utilisation rates, or alert equipment owners of overturns or even near misses that may otherwise go unreported.

Tim Whiteman, CEO of IPAF, observes that VR and MEWP simulators have been really capturing people’s imagination lately. “One of the main benefits of VR technology is that it allows trainees or experienced operators alike to rehearse specific scenarios or environments that it would not be safe to recreate in real life using MEWP equipment at height. Everyone who has tried such simulators has been seriously impressed by the capabilities. It really feels like you are moving the platform into the air, or traversing over rough terrain, depending on the scenario. Perceptions have been shifted and the simulator has proved a great way to engage people on the subject of training and safety instruction in the powered access industry,” he says.

There’s consensus that adopting advanced technologies, embracing change, utilising and analysing big data and most importantly relying on a skilled and highly engaged and energised workforce are all key to a successful and sustainable business model and enhancing safety in the powered access rental market.

Don Kenny, CEO, powered access division, Loxam, points out that although change is necessary, innovation in the AWP industry should fit business models.

“How do you work nationally, and deliver locally? Treat the customers differently, give them something they want. Those of us running powered access rental businesses cannot afford to be ‘blue sky thinkers’. We have to run our businesses as they are today, but that doesn’t mean we must resist change.”

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PMV Middle East - May 2020

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