The International Powered Access Federation is launching a global consultation to establish the possibilities for powered access training and safety guidance afforded by new technology such as virtual reality and platform simulators.

IPAF’s worldwide network of almost 700 approved training centers are looking for guidance on how best to incorporate virtual reality and the newest generation of simulators into training the more than 175,000 operators that obtain a PAL card every year. IPAF will launch a major consultation exercise with all training centers to see how the technology can best complement IPAF’s existing training programs.

For many years, simulators have been used as an effective means of training pilots in both the military and civil aviation sectors, and have also been used to drill workers in high-risk environments such as the offshore oil-and-gas industry. As the technology has become more sophisticated, mobile and affordable, the use of simulators and VR is becoming more established in the mobile elevating work platform industry.

With this in mind, IPAF believes the use of virtual reality with simulators for training MEWP operators is a positive development and should be welcomed.

“There are lots of complex and potentially dangerous situations that can be experienced in a totally safe environment in the virtual realm that would be difficult or even impossible to recreate safely in most other training environments,” said Tim Whiteman, IPAF’s CEO and managing director. “Our aim is always to find ways in which modern technology can complement our existing eLearning and classroom-based training for operators and managers. Who better to take advice from than the more than 1,000 accredited IPAF instructors around the world?

“The consultation exercise will be addressed to all relevant stakeholders within IPAF’s membership – manufacturers, training centers, rental companies, contractors, simulator developers and operators. IPAF welcomes this technology and immediately endorses the use of VR simulators as a good training tool for MEWP operators, when used in addition to the current IPAF theory and practical training programs.”