A new Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group guidance document on “Competence to Operate Construction Plant” has been published by the CPA (Construction Plant-hire Association).
The new “Competence to Operate Construction Plant” document aims to clarify methods for employers to manage, develop and record employees’ competences to operate all types of plant. The HSE and CITB were key participants, alongside a wide range of other organisations. The guidance covers management of training and management of experience as well as management of competence.
Construction plant, in particular mobile plant, has the potential to cause fatalities and serious injury. Consequently it is essential that people who operate construction plant are competent to do so. The duty to ensure that plant operators are competent rests with their employer and the process of ensuring competence requires cooperation between employers, training providers and operators, all of whom have a significant part to play in the process.
Many organisations see training and possession of a card as a proxy for competence; this is a dangerous assumption. It may indicate a general level of ability to operate plant but does not take into account the difficulty of the task, the complexity of the environment or the experience of the operator. These all have a bearing on the successful management of the task.
This new document is intended to provide guidance on the management of the competence of plant operators, clarifying methods for employers to manage, develop and record their employees’ competences and meet their duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act, PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations) and CDM – the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations.
Achieving the necessary competence to carry out a particular task is set out as a four stage process: Selection, Training and Assessment, Developing Competence and the final stage, Life Long Learning. Each of these stages is explained in detail in the document.
Heather Bryant, HM Chief Inspector of Construction and Chair of the Health and Safety Executive’s Construction Industry Advisory Committee (CONIAC), said “The advice in this document is straightforward, comprehensive and easy to adopt. It has been prepared by industry representatives to demonstrate realistic means of complying with legal duties. However, following the guidance is not compulsory and may go further than the minimum you need to do in order to comply with the law. I thank those who have been involved in its preparation and commend the guidance to anyone who employs people who work with construction plant and those with an interest in such matters.”
Kevin Minton, Director, CPA (Construction Plant-hire Association) said “The new guidance was written to help promote understanding and sharing knowledge in an area which is often seen as difficult to discuss. I thank those industry bodies and individuals that were involved in its preparation – the strength of the guidance is founded on their experience and cooperative input.”