The International Powered Access Federation held its Annual U.S. Convention in Chicago, Oct. 21-22, hosting attendees from member rental companies, aerial work platform equipment manufacturers and aerial safety experts.

At the convention, IPAF director of operations Giles Councell and IPAF North American manager and AWPT executive vice president Tony Groat outlined what the organization is currently working on, including adding RFID technology to its Powered Access License cards to effectively make them “smart,” which would allow the operator of a machine to scan his or her card on a machine in order to use it. The smart PAL card would identify, based on the user’s specific PAL card, if he or she has been properly trained on that type of AWP. IPAF is currently running trials with both rental companies and manufacturers prior to launching the new IPAF Smart Card, which it hopes to launch on Dec. 1.

In addition, IPAF is working to expand its Rental Plus program, which it plans to launch globally in the next five years. Rental Plus is an independent quality mark that is awarded to member rental companies who have been audited to meet defined standards in customer service, safety, staff training, contract terms and machine inspection. Each audited company gets an annual follow-up visit. Rental Plus is designed to advance the quality of customer service and operator training in the aerial industry.

Councell also highlighted IPAF’s goals to further promote careers in the access industry and to increase mentoring to its members.

Groat updated attendees on the latest revision of American National Standards Institute standards, which is currently in progress and will soon be available for review and comment.

Terex AWP training manager Scott Owyen spoke passionately about the need to make training materials available in the native language of the person receiving the training as well as to confirm the literacy and comprehension of every individual being trained.

“The level of ignorance in our industry regarding the level and need of aerial work platform training is staggering,” Owyen said. “Employers must use a language and vocabulary at a level that the employee being trained can understand. There is no excuse for poorly trained operators. The tools and materials are there.”

For more information about IPAF, visit www.ipaf.org. To read more about the IPAF U.S. Convention, read RER managing editor Brandey Smith’s blog at http://rermag.com/blog/don-t-hire-cowboys.