IPAF is reacting to the growing concerns surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the potential impact on its ability to issue certification and PAL Cards to new applicants or those wishing to renew their qualification prior to expiry.
Currently, the Federation said, the best option is to undertake the theory section of the training as eLearning. At this time, eLearning is available for both MEWP Operator Training and MEWPs for Managers courses. For training courses where eLearning is not available, to contain the spread of the virus, some test centres have started to limit the number of candidates they accept on a course. Other test centres are beginning to offer remote theory training using digital platforms.
An IPAF spokesperson said, ”These are sensible solutions for theory training, but practical assessment presents greater challenges. IPAF and the wider industry should therefore consider the impact coronavirus may have on the ability to deliver the face-to-face practical training and assessment and the subsequent impact this will have on MEWP operators and the industries in which they work.”
”The full impact of COVID-19 on IPAF training availability is changing daily. We should prepare for the possibility that workers may struggle to find available training to qualify them to operate a MEWP or to renew an existing Powered Access Licence (PAL Card).”
Another challenge could be the increase of expired PAL Cards circulating in the industry, as existing card holders cannot renew their cards without being reassessed, leading to workers potentially being turned away from site.
”IPAF cannot and will not endorse allowing people to operate MEWPs until they have passed a practical assessment, however, in recognition that COVID-19 will prevent some workers from renewwing existing PAL Cards, we are asking the industry to support temporary measures.”
These include, requesting employers and those responsible for site access and card checking procedures to allow workers whose PAL Cards have expired since March 2020, who can provide evidence that they have completed their IPAF operator eLearning theory, to continue to work for a period of 90 days from successful completion of the eLearning. A receipt is provided to all successful eLearning candidates that can be downloaded as a PDF or printed out as evidence. This period of 90 days will be further reviewed as the situation continues to develop.
”Agreement to this temporary extension is at the employer’s discretion, but until COVID-19 is under control we are asking all employers and the wider industry to support these measures,” IPAF added. ”IPAF will continue to monitor the situation and where necessary introduce further proactive measures to limit the impact on IPAF applicants and the wider industry.”