Cautious welcome for IPAF training online – but more details needed
By Ben Hirst, Managing Director
Moves to introduce an IPAF training module online could prove a real boost to safe work at height practices as long as safety – not profit – is the driving force behind the planned changes.
If an e-learning option from IPAF means customers get more time for the practical elements of MEWPS training – the hands-on, up in the air, learn as you do bits – and more rigorous, flexible and convenient training that improves site safety, then it’s a no-brainer.
IPAF online training opens up alternative methods of delivering education. It has the potential to take work at height training to a new level and could mean training centres like our own in Warrington and Wakefield could reach even greater numbers.
It’s important to highlight that this type of e-learning is designed to enhance, not replace, practical at height training. On completion of the online module, trainees would still need to attend an IPAF-approved training centre where they would take the practical element of the training in the form of a half day-long course.
It’s easy to envisage the benefits of rolling out this alternative to instructor-led classroom training even further in the future, yet in the back of my mind I have a niggle or two: what if the costs of providing and taking IPAF training go up, and what if the quality of the training goes down?
Traditional IPAF training is proof that an operator has been trained to operate powered access equipment effectively and most importantly, safely. A move from classroom to computer must take with it all the safeguards and quality learning that trained instructors deliver so well.
There are also the finer details to consider: we need to know how many modules are planned? What skills and knowledge does each one cover? How long will the online training take to complete? Who can trainees talk to if they have any queries?
It’s not my style to sit on the fence on any topic, but at the moment there are more questions than answers, and with limited information available – even in my role as vice-chair of the IPAF UK Country Council – it’s hard to say whether learning online should be the way forward for our industry.
We simply need more details, especially on costs. Until then, I’ll reserve judgement.
To book a work at height training course at one of our IPAF-approved training centres, call 01924 270383 or visit www.ipaftrainingcourses.co.uk