People were the main focus as the powered access industry gathered for the annual UK conference of the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF).

Hosted at The Belfry Hotel & Resort, Sutton Coldfield, the IPAF Elevation UK conference and dinner brought together industry leaders to discuss recruitment and training under the theme ‘It’s all about the people’.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2023, IPAF promotes and enables the safe and effective use of powered access equipment worldwide and offers globally-recognised training for operators of mobile elevating work platforms, mast climbing work platforms and construction hoists.. 

CEO and Managing Director Peter Douglas, spoke about key moments in IPAF’s growth since 1983, including the launch of its accident reporting initiative. 

IPAF received 746 accident reports from 34 countries in 2022, and the data is used to promote safe working practices through improved training and raised awareness of common safety issues.

Mr Douglas said: “It is our most important initiative – it drives all the other initiatives.”

IPAF continues to grow, with a record increase in membership in 2022 and 2.5 million operators to date completing training to gain their Powered Access Licences (PAL Cards).

Continuing the theme of safety, Principal Mechanical Inspector Darren Nash from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) briefed delegates on investigative work around use of emergency stop buttons.

The HSE began looking into equipment design after an incident in which use of an emergency stop switch on a failing scissor lift had cut power to all sensors, meaning the operator was not warned when tilting took place.

Mr Nash explained that he was working with IPAF’s International Safety Committee to identify the way forward, which could see the development of a future policy on safe stops and isolation systems.

Leadership Development Consultant Ali Moore presented on‘the science of relationships’ and how organisational cultures will be crucial in attracting and retaining the workforce of the future.

Her key message was that the days of ‘a job for life’ are over, and that employers need to ensure they offer flexibility, an ethical approach, and a sense of purpose for their staff in order to retain the best talent.

Staff training and awareness was recommended as the best way to tackle the rising tide of cyber crime, in a presentation from Aviva Insurance Cyber Underwriter Jake McCanney.

Ensuring workers understand how to spot phishing attacks is crucial to protect organisations, alongside use of robust IT security systems.

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