Nationwide Platforms welcomes the introduction and enforcement of IPAF Rental+ and calls on customers to use the new independent quality mark for powered access rental when tendering and to interrogate companies’ performance against it. The bar is now raised for the sector and customers can be assured they are engaging with reliable and trustworthy suppliers.
Nationwide Platforms expects high standards of itself and its supply chain in order to deliver industry-leading support and expertise to its customers. IPAF Rental+ makes this expectation explicit, ensuring rental companies are independently audited by an ISO 9001 lead auditor every 12 months and tested against the most stringent standards. The 70 key criteria tested include training, advice, equipment and customer satisfaction.
Having been audited and certified to Silver level in 2017 (the first IPAF member to achieve that level), Nationwide Platforms was proud to be awarded Gold certification in December 2018: very few members have so far reached the Gold standard.
Brian Stead, Director of Compliance and Project Management at Nationwide Platforms, explains: “To achieve Gold status, you must achieve a Gold score against 85% of the 70 criteria, and at least Silver against the other 15%. I’m delighted to say that Nationwide Platforms achieved a Gold score against 69 of the 70 criteria. This means Nationwide Platforms has displayed exemplary standards recognised by IPAF and invested significantly to go above and beyond minimum standards of legal compliance and best practice.”
While a three-tier certification process is easy to grasp, there can be quite a gulf between Bronze and Gold performance against any given criteria.
As an example, Stead cites the requirement of a health and safety policy: “A Bronze score is given if the company has a health and safety policy signed by a senior manager and reviewed in the last 24 months.
“However, to meet the Gold standard, the policy must be applied to suppliers and other interested parties. We not only have a H&S policy but every supplier to Nationwide Platforms has supplied their H&S policy to us and, where appropriate, we have audited that policy. That’s quite an undertaking for us and significantly more advanced than the Bronze criteria.
“When the IPAF auditors visited us, we were able to demonstrate the dates of audits, our findings, etc, from our supply chain and the fact that we’d eliminated a number of suppliers as a result of them failing our audits and failing to reach Bronze level.”
Stead was deeply involved in the development of the Rental+ standard in his role as chair of IPAF’s UK Country Council. He says: “It’s a huge step forward for IPAF. We will encourage existing and potential customers to check everyone on their tender shortlists is accredited to IPAF Rental+ or is at least working towards Bronze certification within a reasonable time frame. Furthermore, we would encourage customers to request a copy of a company’s certificate and to check the IPAF website to confirm that certification.”
So what questions should a powered access customer ask of those tendering to supply them with equipment?
Stead states: “The first question a customer should ask is: have you got IPAF Rental+? If the supplier answers ‘yes’, the customer should then ask: what standard have you achieved and what have you got to do to get to the next level?”
Stead believes that has taken a major step forward with IPAF Rental+ as it enables customers renting powered access equipment to have a true insight into the professionalism of their powered access rental suppliers. “It is only by taking this positive attitude towards safety and quality that the whole industry can continue its excellent progress in making the workplace safer when working at height.”