Powered access refers to machines that are designed to lift personnel, tools and materials to work safely at height. They are used for a wide range of work at height including construction, utility installations, arborist work, filming, the airline industry and in cleaning and maintenance projects.

The most common types of powered access machine are Mobile Elevating Work Platforms or (MEWPs) and Mast Climbing Work Platforms (MCWPs).

MEWPs are also sometimes referred to as aerial work platforms, cherry pickers, scissor lifts, booms, or mast lifts etc and are categorised by type as follows:

  • Static Vertical (1a) Vertical personnel platforms (static)
  • Static Boom (1b, 1b+) Self-propelled booms (outriggers), trailers/push-arounds, vehicle-mounted platforms
  • Mobile Vertical (3a, 3a+) Scissor lifts, vertical personnel platforms (mobile)
  • Mobile Boom (3b, 3b+) Self-propelled booms
  • Push Around Vertical (PAV) Push around verticals
  • Insulated Aerial Device (IAD) With some degree of protection from electrical discharge
  • Specialist machines (SPECIAL) Specialist machines.


The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) promotes the safe and effective use of powered access equipment worldwide – by providing technical advice and good practice guidance; by influencing and interpreting legislation and standards; by initiating targeted safety campaigns; by collating and analysing machine use and safety data used to inform improvements in the wider industry; and by providing high quality audited training courses and programmes, available at over 750 IPAF-approved training centres around the world.

IPAF is a not-for-profit organisation owned by more than 1,600 members, which include manufacturers, rental companies, distributors, contractors and users. IPAF members operate a majority of the MEWP rental fleet worldwide and manufacture about 85% of platforms on the market.