With 58 locations and over 1,200 employees across nine states, Sunstate Equipment is one of the Southwest’s largest equipment rental companies. As a member of the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) since 2010, Sunstate recently became an IPAF Training Center and had several people from their training department become approved instructors for the AWPT (American Work Platform Training) operator training program. The AWPT program is based on the ISO-Certified IPAF program used outside North America, but slightly modified to include additional training on current ANSI, OSHA and CSA standards.
“We’ve offered aerial work platform training since 1993," says Chris Watts, president and chief operating officer of Sunstate. "Last year we trained over 8,000 people and about 60% of them were on aerials. Even though we already have a training program in place, we saw the benefits of offering our customers a choice of programs.”
He continues, “The AWPT program is the Cadillac. It’s much more thorough and really gets into depth regarding safety, both what to do, and why you should do it. With our new AWPT program in place we hope to train a lot more people including all of our employees who deal with aerials.”
The AWPT program from IPAF is dynamic and responsive to change. Feedback and shared input is constantly being gathered from active training centers, manufacturers, rental companies and end users all over the world to ensure that IPAF training covers not only what the standards require, but also what the real world needs. Additional feedback comes from IPAF’s accident reporting program, the first program ever instituted to collect work platform accident data. All certified IPAF and AWPT instructors are also required to attend periodic programs offered at IPAF Continuous Professional Development seminars to help stay abreast of the latest standards and training techniques.
Sunstate Equipment joins over 70 other IPAF members in North America in a joint effort to make the workplace a safer place. “We’re making an investment in safety," adds Watts. "By implementing a training program that is recognized worldwide, we are doing everything we can to provide our customers with the best tools available to educate their workers and make their jobsites safer. Currently we have 10 full time people in our training department and we’re planning to open several other Training Centers in addition to the one in our Phoenix headquarters. We have even developed a new safety-focused logo that we hope will remind everyone that you should put ‘Safety First & Always’.”
The growth of IPAF in North America and worldwide has been increasing steadily as companies continue to realize the value of a uniform training program. With scheduled audits that monitor the consistency of the training process and continual updates as standards change, the program has become the preferred choice of more and more companies worldwide. From 2007 to the present, the number of IPAF members in North America has grown 700% and the number of approved Training Centers has grown by 500%. In 2013, 127,365 people were trained by IPAF-approved training centers worldwide and close to 500,00 people currently hold a valid PAL card that is given to a person who successfully completes an AWPT or IPAF training program. In some areas around the world, the PAL Card is required in order to operate equipment on a site.