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The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) separates its training courses into categories based on the traits of the mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) being used. As a registered IPAF training venue with over 45 years’ experience in delivering the highest quality courses possible, the team here at North East Access Training are experts on IPAF categories and using this guide, you can be too.

Construction workers working on scaffoldingBelow are short descriptions of each MEWP training course category, based on the information sourced directly from IPAF. Ensure that before organising your course, you are receiving training in the correct category so that the PAL card you receive upon completion leaves you appropriately qualified.

Here are the most common IPAF categories:

(1a) Static Vertical

1a Static Vertical systems are MEWPs which exclusively elevate vertically and can only be operated when stationary. These MEWPs can be moved around and driven into position, as long as they are stowed and are not being used. In order to begin use, they must have outriggers or stabilisers deployed before the platform is elevated. These systems tend to come in the form of trailers with scissor lift mechanisms but can vary.

(1b) Static Boom/Cherry Picker

1b Static Booms (or cherry pickers) are MEWPs capable of both vertical and horizontal platform movement, enabling them to reach further and in different directions. They can appear as road-legal, drivable vehicles like vans and trucks, as towable trailers or on a dedicated track-mounted chassis.

There is a large amount of variety in the static boom IPAF category, but all share a single trait – in order to be operated and used, the MEWPs must be stationary. In the same way as the 1a static vertical MEWPs, these platforms must have jacks or stabilisers deployed before they can be elevated.

(3a) Mobile Vertical

3a Mobile Vertical systems only permit vertical elevation but benefit from the variety of lift mechanisms they can use, as well as from being self-propelled. Mobile Vertical MEWPs can utilise scissor, vertical mast or sigma lift systems to elevate users above the ground and don’t require jacks or stabilisers to be used, meaning that they can be driven and moved during elevation.

On occasion, for large 3a MEWPs with a particularly high maximum elevation, there are height restrictions in place for when stabilisers must be used. Whilst these systems are still in the 3a category, when this elevation height restriction is exceeded, they must remain stationary during usage.

(3b) Mobile Boom/Cherry Picker

3b Mobile Booms conclude the primary MEWP categories and can appear in many different forms. Utilising both telescopic and articulated elevation mechanisms, mobile booms have extensive reach potential and benefit from being self-propelled and mobile even when elevated or in use. These vehicles can be powered through a variety of means and give complete freedom to the user.

(PAV) Push Around Vertical

A final MEWP to note is push-around vertical systems. PAVs utilise a variety of different elevation mechanisms and must be manually pushed into place, though they cannot be moved once in use.

There are other specialist MEWPs which come under the Special IPAF category, but these are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

At our easily accessible and newly refurbished Birtley premises, the North East Access Training team can offer all manner of IPAF training courses to qualify you and your operatives. We understand that you require flexibility for your training, which is why we ensure that we work around you and your needs. Our training courses take place whenever you need them and with no minimum number of participants, you can get your team trained as and when they’re available.

Discover more about our IPAF training courses here or feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about our training courses or the IPAF categories.