Sunstate Equipment, one of the Southwest’s largest equipment rental companies, recently became an International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) Training Center and several people from their training department have become approved instructors for the AWPT (American Work Platform Training) operator training program. The AWPT program is based on the ISO-certified IPAF program used outside North America, but slightly modified to include additional training on current ANSI, OSHA and CSA standards.
“We’ve offered aerial work platform training since 1993,” said Chris Watts, president and COO of Sunstate. “Last year we trained over 8,000 people and about 60% of them were on aerials. Even though we already have a training program in place, we saw the benefits of offering our customers a choice of programs.”
Feedback and shared input is constantly being gathered from active training centers, manufacturers, rental companies and end users all over the world to ensure that IPAF training covers not only what the standards require, but also what the real world needs. Additional feedback comes from IPAF’s accident reporting program, which collects work platform accident data. All certified IPAF and AWPT instructors are also required to attend periodic programs offered at IPAF Continuous Professional Development seminars to help stay abreast of the latest standards and training techniques.
Sunstate Equipment joins more than 70 IPAF members in North America in a joint effort to make the workplace a safer place.
“We’re making an investment in safety. By implementing a training program that is recognized worldwide, we are doing everything we can to provide our customers with the best tools available to educate their workers and make their jobsites safer,” Watts said. “Currently we have 10 full time people in our training department and we’re planning to open several other Training Centers in addition to the one in our Phoenix headquarters."
The growth of IPAF in North America and worldwide has been increasing steadily as companies continue to realize the value of a uniform training program. With scheduled audits that monitor the consistency of the training process and continual updates as standards change, the program has been chosen by more companies worldwide. From 2007 to the present, the number of IPAF members in North America has grown 700 percent and the number of approved Training Centers has grown by 500 percent. In 2013, 127,365 people were trained by IPAF-approved training centers worldwide and close to 500,00 people currently hold a valid PAL card that is given to a person who successfully completes an AWPT or IPAF training program. In some areas around the world, the PAL Card is required in order to operate equipment on a site.