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Serious Labs VR simulator approved for IPAF PAL card renewals

October 1, 2021  By Rock to Road Staff

One of the virtual reality heavy equipment training simulators by Serious Labs has been approved by the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) for renewals of its Powered Access License (PAL) card.

The Edmonton-based company had its Mobile Elevating Work Platform (MEWP) Virtual Reality (VR) Operator Training Simulator approved.

This is the first time that heavy equipment operators may renew their license by simulator, without even touching a physical machine.

IPAF has issued over two million PAL cards worldwide, and its operator training is recognized in over 51 countries. PAL cards typically need to be renewed every five years.


“The impact of this approval by such a trusted and esteemed organization as IPAF will make training renewals, and safety overall, more accessible and convenient,” says Jim Colvin, CEO, Serious Labs, in a statement.

Renewal testing

The simulated MEWP PAL card renewal tests existing PAL card holders through a VR-based replica of the IPAF 3a/3b practical test. Two scenarios go through a pre-use check on the machine, and a practical course, just as if the operator was on a machine in the real world.

Created from the data and results of trials over the course of eight months, the course uses an abridged theory session but the same practical session, based on ISO 18878 that is used in the standard 3a and 3b courses. The trial used experienced operators with a minimum three years’ experience who each held a valid PAL card.

“It’s a mirror image of what you would do with the real machine, but the simulator comes to where you work, rather than you going to where the training course is being held,” says Darren Verschuren, international account director, Serious Labs and former safety trainer with Riwal.

“For large construction projects, or even something like a remote work location, rather than the guys having to travel to a rental depot or training centre that might be two hours from their house, they just go to work as normal. And an IPAF Training Centre can bring the unit to them.”

Support for VR

According to Serious Labs, a number of organizations and projects using access equipment – including Laing O’Rourke, Skanska, Sir Robert McAlpine, Keltbray, the HS2 rail project, and the Hinkley Point nuclear power station – are supportive of using the VR simulator for renewing PAL cards and were actively involved in the trials.

“These additions to IPAF’s training offer fully embrace the possibilities afforded by new technology,” said Peter Douglas, CEO and Managing Director of IPAF. “They are borne out of ingenuity and informed by the flexible ways our Training Centres learned to work to help meet continued demand for quality powered access training through the pandemic.”

An Oct. 20 webinar held by Serious Labs will explain the simulator and how it can support training operations.

To find a local IPAF training centre and inquire whether they are offering simulator-based PAL renewals, check the directory.

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