The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) says that moving away from plastic cards for trained operators to a smart phone application is a ‘game-changer’ for site safety.
IPAF’s ePAL is set to be launched in April 2021 – a digital IPAF PAL Card, operator log book and operator safety guides.
It will also allow operators to receive the latest IPAF safety information and best practice guidance, and will ultimately allow construction managers to verify an operative’s qualifications, as well as for the operator to log and share their equipment time.
It will be available for Apple iOS and Android devices and will be updated with additional features as usage demands and developing technology allows.
IPAF’s PAL card (standing for powered access licence) is not actually a licence, as one is not required, but it is an industry-recognised proof of competence in the use of mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPS) and mast climbing work platforms (MCWP). In 2020, IPAF passed the landmark of issuing two million PAL cards globally.
The ePAL heralds the end of paper certification of qualifications and logging of machine time and replace the printed paper version of IPAF’s operator safety guide. IPAF expects that it will speed up the processing time and resource required to issue training candidates with their PAL card and certification, which at present must be replaced each time a new machine category qualification is added or part of the training is renewed.
IPAF chief executive Peter Douglas said: “When IPAF launched the PAL card as a plastic credit card-sized identification containing the holder’s name, photo and categories of machine they were qualified to operate, it was revolutionary. Since then technology has evolved, which makes this latest step forward possible.
“Today the latest plastic PAL cards are all smart capable, can be used to secure access to machines for authorised and trained personnel, and most recently the cards were updated to be able to carry the CSCS [Construction Skills Certification Scheme] holographic logo, giving access to all Build UK sites to qualifying operators.
“Therefore this wholesale move from a plastic PAL card to a digital one is a natural evolution. Developing an operator app has been a key priority for IPAF since I took up post in 2019, and we were excited to team up with IPAF member Trackunit to bring its considerable technical expertise to bear to roll this out.”
Søren Brogaard, chief executive of Trackunit, the Danish telematics firmn that helped develop the app, said: “This will be a real game-changer for the industry.”
Taylor Woodrow (Vinci) health and safety manager Alan Woodage said: “The introduction of ePAL and digital PAL cards is another great integration of digital technology welcomed by Vinci Construction UK. As we embrace more digital technologies we become many things: more sustainable, better connected, more engaging and, ultimately, efficient.”