What Is IPAF Training & What Does It Cover?

If you’ve ever worked around powered access equipment, you’ve probably heard the phrase ‘IPAF training’. It is the industry-standard training for the use of mobile elevating work platforms. Employers are legally required to correctly train their employees in IPAF training, and will ensure that you prove that you are able to use equipment in a safe, effective way.

What is IPAF training?

An IPAF training course will teach you how to use mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) such as cherry pickers, scissor lifts and other boom lifts in a safe way.

IPAF is an acronym for the International Powered Access Federation, a not-for-profit organisation that supports the safe and effective use of powered access equipment.

If you undertake MEWP training with an IPAF accredited training provider, and pass the theory and practical tests, you will earn a Powered Access Licence – or PAL card. These cards are issued digitally and prove that you have completed high quality IPAF training, allowing you to safely use the type of MEWPs stated on your licence. PAL cards are recognised across the world but they do expire after five years, and require you to take a renewal course.

What does IPAF training cover?

There are a number of different IPAF training courses available, and each one will cover slightly different things. All IPAF training will include a mixture of theoretical and practical learning. They will also include two assessments, one theory test and one practical assessment.

Many IPAF training providers will offer the theory part of the training as an online or e-learning option. This can be a more convenient option as it allows you to do the e-learning from your home, office, or on-site – but you will still need to do the practical training and theory test in person at a test centre.

The specifics of what is taught during IPAF training will depend on the course. Two of the most popular IPAF training courses are ‘MEWP Operator Training’ and ‘MEWPs for Managers’.

MEWP Operator Training

MEWP Operator Training is the most popular type of IPAF training, as it equips you with all the skills and knowledge you would need to safely operate the most commonly used forms of mobile elevating work platforms.

Depending on the training course, you will be taught how to safely prepare and operate a variety of different category MEWPs including:

  • Static Vertical (1a)
  • Static Boom (1b, 1b+)
  • Mobile Vertical (3a, 3a+)
  • Mobile Static (3b, 3b+)


MEWPs For Managers

Any manager who works in an environment where mobile elevating work platforms are regularly used should undertake an IPAF MEWPs For Managers course.

These courses will familiarise you with your legal responsibilities around MEWPs and how to effectively supervise others when they are using them. This training will make you aware of the work your team is doing, and how to oversee it. It will also show you how to use a MEWP yourself.

Unlike the operator course, MEWPs For Managers covers how to plan a job that requires the use of MEWPs, how to conduct a risk assessment, and how to select the correct equipment for specific tasks.

How long is IPAF training?

The specific length of an IPAF course will depend on the particular course that you’re doing. Courses that cover a higher number of MEWP categories can take up to 3 days, which includes both theory and practical. The assessments will also take place at the same time as training. Your existing experience and expertise can also affect the length of the course.

If you do the theory training online, it should still take the same amount of total time but you will have the convenience of doing it from your your home or office, rather than doing it on site.


If you are interested in IPAF training, Star Platforms offers a variety of MEWP training courses, including MEWP Operator Training and MEWPs for Managers. We offer IPAF accredited training at each of our six depots across the UK. Get in touch to learn more or to book onto a course.


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