North American aerials leaders discuss operator training

By Lindsey Anderson12 November 2008

Tim Whiteman, managing director, IPAF.

Tim Whiteman, managing director, IPAF.

Executives from North America’s six largest rental houses and six major aerial work platform manufacturers convened November 11 in Chicago to discuss standard AWP operator training.

The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) and its US subsidiary, AWPT, invited executives from around North America to discuss how and if the industry can agree on a minimum level of standardized operator training. The group has been put into motion and will be meeting again at The Rental Show in Atlanta, March 2-5, 2009.

"What is concrete is that the group has decided it wants to meet again during The Rental Show, and to set a date there and meet again and try to encourage some other parties to participate," said IPAF managing director Tim Whiteman. "including other trade associations, to try and review, as an industry, where we are with operator training."

The summit, prompted by Skyjack president Ken McDougall's APEX keynote speech, was a first for the industry. It was agreed that at the next meeting there could be a discussion, but possibly not a resolution, on the number of [operator] hours and type of training, according to those in attendance. "It was a really wide range of discussion on all aspects of operator training with a lot of passion," Whiteman said.

"It was a useful meeting for a start," IPAF president John Ball said.

At APEX McDougall called for manufacturers to get behind a "standardized and accredited training program globally...Although this type of training is not globally mandated, it is up to us to actively support and encourage training through all level of the organization...I am proud to say that Skyjack supports the IPAF AWPT training program globally."

IPAF and AWPT do not deliver training themselves. Instead, they have developed a standardized training program that is delivered by independent training centers certified by IPAF/AWPT. Whiteman stressed, however, that the summit was not an IPAF/AWPT meeting. "We were just asked to set up the meeting and make it happen," Whiteman said. "It's an industry initiative. All these people gave up their time to come and talk about a subject they were very passionate about."

Brad Boehler, director of product safety at Skyjack, said the meeting was productive and that there will be action taken in the future. "We will be meeting again," he said.

The following companies were in attendance: Ahern Rentals/Xtreme, United Rentals, NES, RSC, Bil-Jax/Haulotte, Genie, JLG and Skyjack. Whiteman said MEC Aerial Work Platforms could not make it but president Dave White and his group "had a commitment of support" to the summit. Sunbelt Rentals did not make the meeting due to a canceled flight, while Hertz Equipment Rental and H&E Rentals did not attend.

"Everybody agrees that safety is about keeping people alive," Whiteman concluded.
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