Is IPAF training a legal requirement?

It is an inescapable fact that working at height can be risky.

Every year the HSE publishes concerning statistics on accidents and injuries in the workplace that demonstrate just how dangerous it can be. In 2020 up to 50% of fatal workplace incidents in the construction industry were a result of falls from height. When you include numbers from other industries, the percentage is still around 30%. These numbers don’t just include the risk of falling from height – they also cover objects being dropped and injuring those below.

To protect workers, it is recommended to avoid working at height where possible. Unfortunately, it is an unavoidable necessity in many industries. This is why the HSE and other relevant authorities have built up a significant body of legislation and regulations around the process. These are designed to help workers feel confident and safe while working at height or using MEWPs.

The easiest way to reduce any risks when working at height is to use the correct equipment and be fully trained in how to use it safely. Accredited IPAF training will equip you or your team with all the knowledge you need, including all the relevant regulations.

If you want to get familiar with the legislation before you begin your training, we’ve put together a handy list of acts, regulations and legislation that apply to working at height.


Is IPAF training a legal requirement?

Surprisingly, there is no specific legal requirement for you to complete IPAF training before working with MEWPs. You are not legally obliged to hold a valid PAL (Powered Access Licence) card or have certification to use powered access equipment.

However, it is a legal requirement for an employer to ensure their employees are adequately trained in the use of MEWP equipment before they use it.

As this places a lot of the responsibility on employers, many companies and organisations consider an IPAF licence as a minimum requirement for jobs using MEWPs. This applies to in-house training and also to hiring policies. Most vacancies for roles that involve the use of MEWPs ask for applicants who already possess a PAL card.


MEWP training: legal requirements

Working at height and using mobile elevating work platforms can be risky. To minimise these dangers, it is covered by a number of regulations and legal requirements.

In the UK, the majority of regulations around health and safety at work are set out by The Health And Safety Executive. They cover broader health and safety categories for all workplaces, as well as specific MEWP safety guidance.

Most of the relevant regulations for the use of MEWPs are contained within the following Acts and Regulations:

Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HASWA 74)

This is the primary body of health and safety legislation covering the occupational health of all workers in the UK.

Due to its broad nature, it includes little specific guidance around working at height or MEWP safety. However it does provide general instructions on the duties of employers, employees and the self-employed that must be met to ensure a safe working environment for everyone.

Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98)

The regulations contained with this document apply to all equipment used within the workplace. This includes mobile elevating work platforms such as cherry pickers or scissor lifts.

They state that all possible risks must be assessed and then minimised or prevented when using equipment for work. They contain specific guidance on how to control the risk of MEWPs overturning, including assessing ground, environmental and operating conditions for the equipment.

Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) 1998

These regulations cover the use of lifting equipment specifically. In fact, this is the nearest there is to a straight set of MEWP regulations. They are aimed at anyone who uses or even comes into regular contact with lifting equipment, including employers, employees and contractors.

They state that:

  • All lifting operations must be properly planned by someone trained in the use of the equipment.
  • All equipment used for lifting or lowering (such as MEWPs) must have adequate strength and stability.
  • All equipment must be inspected before the task and monitored throughout.

Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSR 99)

This legislation was created to reinforce the original HASWA 74. It lays out the specifics of what employers and employees must do to maintain a legally safe workplace.

As with the original act, the regulations set out apply to every single work activity but they deal particularly with the practice of risk assessments and the responsibilities of employers and employees around carrying them out.

Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR 05)

These regulations apply to any work that is classed as being ‘at height’. This means work at any point where there is a risk of injury from falling, including from MEWPs.

They state that an assessment must be carried out to determine if working at height is the only way to complete a task. If it is, then the following steps must be taken to ensure the job is done safely:

  • Any work undertaken is properly planned and organised in advance.
  • The person who carries out the planning is properly trained.
  • The person working at height is properly trained.
  • The most suitable equipment is used for the task.
  • Every measure is taken to minimise the fall risk.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015

These regulations mainly apply to managers, developers and supervisors, though they do impact workers.

They establish the importance of planning all work in order to minimise risks and making sure that everyone involved has the relevant skills and training. They also explain that it is necessary to disclose risks with workers, and discuss how best to manage them when relevant.

A high quality IPAF training course will cover all the relevant health and safety legislation and guidance you need to work safely. Our training courses at Star Platforms are accredited by IPAF, and equip you with the knowledge you need to use MEWPs safely and effectively. Get in touch to find out more or book a course.


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