CUMBRIA, U.K. — The International Powered Access Federation has begun a systematic project to collect worldwide data on fatal accidents involving aerial work platforms, with the aim of improving the safe use of equipment.

Manufacturers, rental companies, contractors and users are encouraged to report any known AWP accidents or incidents using the standard form that is available at www.ipaf.org/accident. In the initial phase, IPAF is calling for reports of any known fatalities involving AWPs worldwide.

“I applaud and encourage the efforts your industry is making to collect and analyze your own data,” wrote principal inspector Joy Jones of the U.K. Health & Safety Executive in an open letter to IPAF members. “Obtaining accident/incident data to identify trends and prioritize remedial action is a perennial problem…. Companies sometimes have reservations about sharing their accident/incident data but in my opinion, the reputation of industry representative organizations is enhanced when they base and prioritize their activities on evidence and evaluation.”

“This project will enable IPAF to build a comprehensive record of known AWP incidents and store them in one location and in one common format, something that does not exist currently,” said IPAF technical officer Chris Wraith. “Based on the data gathered, IPAF will then be able to analyze and look for common trends, and propose possible actions to further improve and promote the safe use of AWPs worldwide.”

The construction industry has one of the highest rates of fatal injuries to workers. In the U.S., for example, it accounted for 751 fatal injuries in 2010, an injury rate of 9.5 per 100,000 workers, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics. Falls continue to be a leading cause of accidents. Less is known about the nature of the accidents involving falls from height and the type of equipment involved, which is one aspect that the IPAF initiative seeks to address.

“Powered access offers one of the safest and most efficient ways to work at height,” said Tim Whiteman, IPAF CEO. “When an accident happens involving a platform, it tends to become a spectacle and grabs the headlines. However, powered access actually accounts for a small percentage of all accidents related to work at height, and this project intends to uncover hard data to support that anecdotal evidence and to inform further safety initiatives.”

To report an AWP accident, go to www.ipaf.org/accident.

In other news, IPAF last month reported that a record number of 101,457 people completed an IPAF training course in 2011. Training available from IPAF-approved centers includes operator courses for which a PAL Card (Powered Access License) is issued, and management courses for which a certificate is issued.

IPAF issued a record 97,488 PAL Cards worldwide through its approved training centers in 2011, an increase of nearly 13.9 percent over the 85,605 PAL Cards issued in 2010.

A valid PAL Card is proof that the cardholder has been trained to operate powered access equipment safely and effectively. PAL Cards are valid for five years and can be verified online at www.ipaf.org. IPAF's PAL Card operator training program is certified by TÜV as conforming to ISO 18878.

More than half of all IPAF-approved training centers are now outside the U.K. and IPAF says that there are close to 400,000 valid PAL Cards in circulation.

At the end of 2011, IPAF had nearly 900 members worldwide. More than half the membership is now based outside the U.K., and membership continues to grow in places such as the U.S., Brazil and Southeast Asia.

In the U.S., the training program is managed by IPAF's North American subsidiary, American Work Platform Training, and the PAL Card is known as the Powered Access Licensed-Registration.

“The economic outlook is still signaling caution but I am delighted to report that IPAF members have set another record for safety,” said Whiteman. “We congratulate all members, contractors and training centers for their support and recognize all who contribute to the success of this industry-led voluntary training program.”

IPAF is a not-for-profit members' organization that promotes the safe and effective use of powered access equipment worldwide. Members include rental companies, manufacturers, distributors and equipment owners.

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