Confirm your operator’s credentials and competence

Recent cases have highlighted the vital need for employers to continue to thoroughly check and assess new employees’ operator training and competency before they get behind the wheel of any workplace equipment.

Unfortunately, fraudulent operator licenses do exist, and sadly,in some instances managers do not realise that they have a rogue operator on-site until an accident or even a fatality has occurred.

Consequently, it then becomes clear neither had sufficient training or qualifications to ensure the equipment was being operated safely on-site.

Serious financial penalties

Following the emotional devastation, comes the financial penalties, which under UK law can be unlimited. Understanding what the law requires of you, as an employer, is essential. When you employ a plant operator you are responsible for ensuring that your recruit has all the skills and training necessary to safely operate the varying types of equipment, whether that be a crane, forklift, access platform or a piece of mobile plant.

Under UK law, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER 98) state: “Every employer shall ensure that all persons who use work equipment have received adequate training.”

If your new plant operator is involved in an accident, you, as the employer, can be held responsible. It’s therefore crucial – for you as an individual and for your business – that you check their credentials.

So how can you know your employee’s skills for sure, and how can you protect your business if something does go wrong?

  1. Request copies of training documentation
    It is good practice to request copies of all training certificates and operator license’s, review them and then keep on file. This allows you to determine whether the training they’ve received is adequate for the tasks required of them.
    Bearing in mind that not all training certificates have holograms or watermarks. You should if you doubt whether a certificate or operator card is genuine, forward it to the training provider or awarding body to confirm authenticity.
  1. Check accreditation
    We advise that if a UK training certificate is awarded by an accrediting body such as IPAF, PASMA, NPORS, MPQC, AITT or ALLMI, you can be confident that training has been delivered to a high set of standards that are in line with all relevant and current legislation.
    Many of these accrediting bodies hold a database of all operator training delivered under their accreditation, so, as an employer, you can simply contact them to confirm completed training.
    But what if a certificate is provided, that has not been awarded by a recognised accrediting body? Always check the standards to which the course has been delivered and ensure the course aligns to National Occupational Standards.
  1. Assess skills
    Regardless of whether an operator has received training to an accredited standard or not, their skills and competence must be assessed before they can be authorised to freely operate any equipment on-site.
    This crucial step is THE KEY to safeguarding your workforce and your business. It allows you to identify any skill gaps before they impact on your operations. If you have any doubt at all about the operator’s experience, then the provision of training is always the safest course of action.


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