Operating Engineers Local 150 Embraces Aerial Work Platform Training Program

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 Training Center, located about 50 miles south of Chicago in Wilmington, IL, recently joined the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) and became an AWPT training center so that they could offer training on the safe use of aerial work platforms (AWPs) to their membership. AWPT (American Work Platform Training) is the North American IPAF subsidiary whose training programs meet OSHA requirements and ANSI standards. They are based on IPAF's proven program, which is certified as conforming to ISO 18878 and is used in many countries throughout the world.

Whether working as heavy equipment operators, heavy equipment mechanics, or other allied jobs, operating engineers are found on any project using construction equipment. And among the many types of equipment used on a jobsite, AWPs are rapidly becoming one of the most common. The expanded use of these machines by 150’''s members in large equipment maintenance, municipalities and general industry has recently grown exponentially.

After looking at a number of training methods and talking with other people in the industry, Local 150's Apprenticeship and Skill Improvement Program (ASIP) concluded that the programs offered by AWPT were the most thorough and provided their organization with the tools they needed to integrate aerial work platform training into their certification protocols. AWPT offers the internationally recognized PAL Card (Powered Access Licensed-registration) to people who successfully complete a training program on a class of work platform equipment. They also provide a logbook for listing specific machine familiarization so union members have a way of showing that they had been trained on a particular piece of equipment. After joining IPAF and becoming an AWPT Training Center, Local 150 now has over a half dozen AWPT-approved instructors on board and they are beginning to offer training to their membership.

Local 150's training center is situated on over 300 acres, has a 342,000 square foot space housing 30 classrooms, an indoor training area, 200-seat auditorium, over 200 pieces of heavy equipment, testing labs and much more. It serves union members throughout Northern Illinois, Eastern Iowa and Northern Indiana and offers a variety of apprenticeship programs designed to provide journeypersons and apprentices with the necessary skills to acquire and maintain jobs in the many industries they serve. The site is open on a year-round basis and has full time instructors available to the members six days a week, Monday through Saturday.

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