IPAF training vs PASMA training: what’s the difference?

When you’re looking for a job that involves working at height, it’s important that you get the correct training beforehand. Working at height can carry a lot of risks, particularly if you are not aware of the safety guidelines around the specialist equipment that you are using. It is important to get the relevant guidance and training to support you. However, knowing which training is most relevant to you and your intended job role can be difficult, especially when you are new to the industry.


IPAF and PASMA training are two of the most common types of training for people who wish to work at height. These are very different courses, with little overlap in terms of content. This makes it important to attend the correct course for your role.


If you’re struggling to decide which of these training courses is best suited to your needs, here is a short breakdown of the differences between the training types.

IPAF training

IPAF stands for the International Powered Access Federation. An IPAF training course will guide you on the safe use of a particular type of powered access equipment called mobile elevating work platforms – or MEWPs. This includes machinery such as cherry pickers, scissor lifts and boom lifts, all of which can extend to significant heights.


The majority of IPAF training courses run under the banner ‘MEWP Operator Training’. It is then possible to pick a course that corresponds to different categories of MEWP, for example, static or mobile lifts.


When you complete an accredited IPAF training, you will be issued with a digital Powered Access Licence (also known as a PAL card) valid for 5 years.. These are recognised across the world as proof you have been trained on the safe and effective use of MEWPs.

PASMA Training

PASMA stands for the Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ and Manufacturers’ Association. They are an internationally recognised authority on the safe use of mobile access towers.


A PASMA training course focuses on the use of static access towers rather than powered platforms. These towers are placed next to scaffold structures and used to access them. They can be up to 8m tall in outdoor settings or 12m indoors.


These courses will cover how to assemble, move and dismantle these access towers as well as how to use them. Separate training and qualifications are required to construct actual scaffolding structures, not just the towers.

What’s the difference between IPAF & PASMA training?

In terms of their methods and goals, IPAF training and PASMA training have similarities as they both focus on the safe usage of access equipment. Both training courses are also taught via a mix of theory and practical methods.


The fundamental difference between IPAF and PASMA training is the type of equipment they are training you to use. With IPAF, you are trained in the use of mobile elevating working platforms which are complex pieces of machinery. MEWPs enable you to work safely at significant heights, extending up over multiple stories. IPAF courses cover a number of different categories of machinery that can be static or moving.


In contrast, PASMA training teaches how to use the mobile access towers that are used to access scaffolding. These are static structures, rather than machines.

Should I choose IPAF training or PASMA training?

When you’re choosing between IPAF and PASMA training, the deciding factor should be what work you expect to do after your training is completed. If you plan to work using access towers and scaffolding, then PASMA training will suit you well.


If you want the freedom to work with a variety of powered access platforms, then completing an IPAF training course, such as MEWP Operator Trainings, will suit you better. These courses will equip you with all the information and support you need to use a whole range of MEWPs in a safe and effective way. They will also provide you with a globally recognised licence to prove your competence.


Star Platforms offers high quality powered access training through our IPAF training courses. As an IPAF accredited training centre, you can rest assured that our courses will train you to industry-level standards, allowing you to use MEWPs safely and effectively. We offer IPAF training at all of our depots across the UK and can even offer training on-site, provided it’s suitable to do so. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with our helpful team today.

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