Because aerial work platforms (AWPs) are frequently rented, it’s inevitable that not everyone who works with them will be familiar with their operation—or their safety requirements.
There are over 50 fatal incidents in the United States and Canada each year. Twenty-four deaths already have been reported through the first six months of this year. According to research by the International Powered Access Foundation (IPAF), most fatal accidents involving AWPs could have been prevented through proper training.
To combat the problem, the IPAF has introduced aerial operator online training modules called New Generation eLearning, which comprise one of two major components required in compliant operator training. The modules are aimed at anyone wanting to receive aerial operator training, or existing operators who want a refresher.
“There’s an ongoing need for properly trained aerial operators and overall safety awareness in the United States and Canada,” says Tony Groat, IPAF's North America manager. “Not only is it important for aerial operators to be working in a safe and productive manner at all times, it is also mandatory for companies to ensure they have trained workers on their job sites every day.”
The modules are self-paced, interactive, available in English or Spanish—and free until December 31—to anyone in the U.S. or Canada. To sign up, go to www.ipaf.com/safeMEWPs.
“By offering these modules for free through 2016, we hope we can reach as many people as possible,” Groat says.
The modules take trainees through games, quizzes, videos and simulations to help them retain the required knowledge and skills for their daily operations. Members of the aerial industry, including manufacturers and rental companies, developed the online training over a two-year span.
“The modules are engaging and diverse, making it an enjoyable way to test your skill and absorb important knowledge,” Groat says. “Because the multi-hour training is Internet-based, users have the flexibility to take the training anytime, stop and start conveniently at their own pace, anywhere they have Internet access.”
The 12-segment training may be completed within 30-day timeframe.
After completing the eLearning modules, trainees have the option to arrange the second component of compliant operator training, theory testing and an evaluation of hands-on operation, for an added fee.
This training component requires the completion of a written theory test and the practical hands-on operation of an AWP in front of a qualified person to demonstrate knowledge and proficiency. Alternately, a trainer can personally visit a trainee’s location for a separate fee, based on the number of trainees. Successful trainees who complete both the eLearning modules course and the practical evaluation will receive a Smart PAL Card (Powered Access Licensed-Registration) as proof of operator training.
IPAF’s PAL Cards are active for five years, but the eLearning modules may be retaken as a refresher course at any time along the way.