IPAF successfully develops ConoSur 2023 Congress
By Cristián Peters Quiroga13 September 2023
The ConoSur Congress (Argentina, Chile, Peru and Uruguay) developed by IPAF was successfully held September 8 in Santiago, Chile. The Federation brought together more than a hundred executives from seven countries to attend a large grid of presentations.
The event was hosted by Diego Bustamante, IPAF representative for Latin America and North America, who opened the congress by referring to some of the organization’s most notable figures. IPAF today has more than 1,678 members from 85 countries and although Latin America is a smaller portion with only 119 members, it has shown continuous growth in recent years, adding more and more countries. “Last year Cuba and Panama joined,” he highlighted.
Likewise, the certifications granted by IPAF have also been increasing. “During 2022, 1,146 operators were certified in the region and so far this year there have already been 1,441 certifications,” commented Bustamante. “We hope this trend can continue,” he added.
It should be noted that Chile, host of the 2023 congress, has been one of the pioneers in the region, both in membership and training, with 12 members (of the 26 in the Southern Cone) and eight training centers.
A very interesting presentation was given by Javier Martínez, partner of Knowledge Works, who referred to the importance of knowledge and how through it companies can anticipate changes. “The more knowledge you have, the better the results will be,” he said.
The expert made a direct relationship between the needs to manage knowledge and IPAF’s training and education offering, ensuring that in the end companies must have the right people for each task, but that in addition to being the most appropriate, they have the abilities to adapt to changes.
In this sense, the presentation by Sandra Romero, head of security coordination at the Vera C. Rubin observatory , located in northern Chile, was also very interesting. This observatory required a vast amount of aerial access equipment for its installation. The executive stressed the importance of having specialized operators in various operations, who must not only be trained to face the inherent challenges of their work, but also be willing to acquire new knowledge and adapt to different ways of doing things, avoiding a ‘this is what I know and this is how I do it’ mentality. In a project of such magnitude, flexibility and the capacity for continuous learning are essential qualities in the work team.
Training, investment or expense?
A qualified and certified operator is undoubtedly a win for a company. But there is a question that many companies ask: what happens if I invest in training and my employee leaves? Faced with this question, Jaime Valenzuela, from Actitud Limitada, pointed out that it is better to ask yourself: what happens if I don’t invest and it stays?
Furthermore, it must be taken into account that investing in the training of work teams brings with it a series of advantages, such as: it increases efficiency and productivity; improves skills and competencies, increases employability; fosters trust and commitment; positively impacts the work environment; increases talent retention; and reduces risks in the workplace, just to mention some of the advantages.
The executive commented on the tax benefits that Chilean companies can access when investing in the training of their employees.
Inclusion, attraction, retention
The event had a special panel to refer to the attraction, retention and training of human resources in companies, an especially interesting topic in a world that is moving at great speed.
The round table, composed of Milagros Rodríguez, technical service manager of Haulotte Chile; Claudia Herrera, administration and finance manager at Alo Group , Valentina Guitérrez , rental partner of OYV; and Yanina Bundrea , from RK Elevaciones; and moderated by Cristián Peters, editor of Construcción Latinoamericana, attracted attendees by focusing on the inclusion of women in the access industry.
Despite the challenges this entails, the female voices emerging from the sector highlight an underlying environment of respect and professionalism. Although the gender gap remains a reality, these pioneers, with different levels of experience, call for inclusion, inviting more women to join in various capacities, whether as operators, technicians or in administrative and executives roles.
Their presence, vision and perseverance not only enrich the industry, but also set a precedent for future generations, proving that talent and ability have no gender.
IPAF has a wide range of different courses for those related to air access equipment, training that, depending on its scope, can be in person or online, through an e-learning system that is currently taught in seven languages.
Antonio Barbosa, IPAF manager for Brazil and Portugal, referred to two courses.
One of them focused on supervisors, since it is not only enough to have the knowledge, but you also have to know how to apply it. The PEMPs / AWPs course for supervisors and managers covers everything that supervisors and construction managers should know about the use of platforms in the workplace, from planning and carrying out a risk analysis, to selecting the proper equipment and mitigation of all possible hazards. “Supervision and management is essential and acts as a complement to guarantee the safe and effective use of the platforms,” said the executive.
The second course has to do with the safe loading and unloading of equipment, an especially important aspect considering that analysis of platform accident data reveals that many people are injured during this process. “The course examines how these accidents occur and how to prevent them to ensure safe and effective best practices,” Barbosa said.
Analysis of data
Training in the supervision and operation of any activity related to aerial access platforms becomes especially relevant when analyzing the safety report prepared by IPAF every year.
According to the latest IPAF World Safety Report, in 2022, there were 759 reports from 34 countries, an increase of 15% and 21% respectively. There were 831 people involved in incidents, which resulted in 102 deaths, which represents a decrease of around 19% compared to 2021, when there were 126 fatalities worldwide.
In terms of incidents resulting in death or serious injury, falls from the platform remain the most common underlying cause, with overturning in second position and being run over by a machine, vehicle or object in third position.
Although Diego Bustamante warns that this equipment is the safest method for performing work at height and that it only represents 0.67% of accidents in the workplace, work must continue to reduce the rates.
At the end of the event, which included time for networking , attendees were satisfied with the congress. Bruno Picci , marketing manager at Terex Latin America , commented that “this edition of IPAF Conosur proved to be more robust than the previous one in Argentina, with greater participation from clients and manufacturers and an agenda very focused on the importance of qualification for the market. The evolution observed in this event shows that IPAF is attentive to the regional market and working to satisfy the main demands of the event participants.”
According to the executive, “ Genie is an ally of IPAF worldwide, since it understands safety and quality as its business pillars and the qualification of instructors and operators is an important tool to reach a more mature and safe market in our region.”
“It was an honor to have the participation of more than 100 lifting industry enthusiasts in this event . This reveals to us that the industry in the Southern Cone of Latin America clearly demands this type of meeting to raise standards and bring together experts and professionals to share knowledge about safety in the use of lifting platforms. We are committed to continuing to strengthen safety and excellence in the region, and of course nothing would have been possible without our incredible speakers and sponsors,” said Bustamante, who has already extended the invitation to next year’s ConoSur congress , which will take place in Mendoza, Argentina.
It should be noted that the event was sponsored by big brands such as Alo Lift , Dingli , Genie, Haulotte , Manitou , XCMG and Zoomlion, in addition to support media such as Movicarga and KHL Group.