For nearly 40 years, the Scaffold Industry Association (SIA) has created and provided safety education to thousands of scaffold erectors and end-users through its seminars and training courses. The SIA has worked with legislative agencies to help develop the industry's safety standards.

The association offers training courses to both members and non-members. These training courses, which are also hosted by SIA Accredited Training Institutes (ATIs), teach students how to meet and exceed OSHA standards with best safety practices, which reduce employee injuries, insurance costs, and lost time on the job.

In 2010, SIA is adding a new chapter to its training curriculum through a newly-formed alliance with the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF). The SIA Accredited Training Institutes can now add certified mast climber training to their catalog of class offerings. The course materials have been developed by experts within the association and powered access industry, with a new manual for North America. SIA members who have received training and certification through IPAF will conduct the courses.

“The partnership between the SIA and IPAF is fulfilling its mission as a conglomeration of entities with the common goal of ultimate safety at the finish line,” says Bill Breault, president of Breault Industrial Group Inc. and current SIA president. “IPAF and the SIA have successfully adapted the existing European training program for the North American market, and it is being implemented into many of SIA's Accredited Training Institutes.”

Under this alliance, current SIA ATIs with mast climber experience will go through an extensive instructor training program offered by IPAF. Upon completion, these ATIs will be recognized as having mast climber work platform (MCWP) IPAF instructors and can add the new curriculum to their list of scaffold safety classes.

This course is new to the North American market. When developing it, SIA and IPAF had not only worker safety in mind, but also current OSHA regulations for the scaffold and access industry. OSHA defines scaffolding as “any temporary elevated platform (supported or suspended) and its supporting structure (including points of anchorage), used for supporting employees or materials or both.”

The mast climber operator course is designed for any workers/operators who may find themselves on a mast climber apparatus in the course of doing their jobs. Upon successful completion of the course, students will take a final competency exam. They will receive certificates of completion and co-branded SIA/IPAF Powered Access License (PAL) cards upon passing the final exam. PAL card certifications are valid for five years.

Planning for a safe future

The SIA and IPAF would like to see this program incorporated into the training and safety curriculum of all companies using mast climber systems. Their goal: to make sure trained employees and best safety practices are in place before an accident occurs.

“IPAF is excited by the partnership with SIA in the delivery of MCWP operator training,” says Tony Groat, IPAF aerial work platform training executive vice president. “SIA has many ATIs with very knowledgeable and experienced instructors who can easily become approved mast climber platform training instructors and train end-users.”

MCWP training is only offered by companies who agree to comply with the strict guidelines that assure complete and consistent training. The training is audited for compliance and picture ID cards are issued to successful trainees who are safer and more productive on their projects.

Looking forward, SIA is seeking relationships with insurance companies in hopes of educating underwriters that companies with stronger safety training programs typically are a lower risk for accident claims. By working with insurers, the insured companies, and the SIA training programs, the SIA hopes to show those in the scaffold and access industry that safety training saves not only lives, but also money. Taking the approach even further, SIA hopes to see mast climber training accepted as a best practice for all parties involved in erecting and using the equipment.

SIA classes for mast climber operators will begin in summer 2010. A list of accredited training institutes offering the course will be available on the SIA Web site.

R. Granville Loar is Director of Education and Training for the Scaffold Industry Association. For information on ATI training centers and class offerings, visitwww.scaffold.orgor call 816.595.4860.

See CLICK HERE for info on new mast climber safety templates published by the IPAF.