The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) has launched a Smart PAL card (Powered Access Licence), available in different languages, which is machine-readable and can be used to ensure that only trained operators can use mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) on site. Standard PAL cards will continue to be issued and accepted on site.
The Smart PAL card looks the same as the standard PAL card – the data stored on the card, such as the operator name, number and categories trained in, is also printed on it. The only difference is that the Smart PAL card is marked by a wireless icon and has a chip embedded in it.
The data in the chip can be read by a card reader fitted to the machine. The reader can be set up to accept certain data which in turn will allow the machine to be operated. This data includes whether or not the cardholder (operator) is trained, to what level and in which machine categories.
No additional personal contact details are contained within the card. IPAF and its approved training centers keep any personal data secure in line with data protection legislation.
Using a Smart PAL card along with a reader device can allow control of machine access and thereby improve site safety. Site managers can use the system to ensure that only correctly trained operators can operate MEWPs or MCWPs (mast climbing work platforms). They can also track who has used which machine for how long, and prevent fraudulent use.
“The yellow PAL Card is established as a must-have qualification on most jobsites and the optional new smart card technology will bring added benefits,” said IPAF CEO Tim Whiteman. “The Smart PAL Card can be used as part of an electronic logbook of operator experience and can be linked to machine tracking systems. It brings exciting possibilities to make MEWP access safer and MEWP use more secure.”
Smart PAL cards have been tested extensively on multiple machines by operators on site. They can be read by virtually all card readers and there are no restrictions on which smart card readers should be used. Operators or companies can specify if they wish to be issued with a Smart PAL card or a standard PAL card when booking courses with their IPAF-approved training center.