Plant Operator Crew Competency

Plant Operator Crew Competency

As we are now throughly into 2019, the outdoor summer season within the concert sector looks to be as busy as ever. So, what comes with this intensive period is a strain on resources of all kinds, including plant operator crew.

Challenges Faced

For event  suppliers such as ourselves, this presents a challenge on how to meet these demands, and keep up levels of competency.

Its easy to overlook the matter of competency. Also, its easy to forget things can go wrong – these machines can wreck buildings, structures, vehicles, and most importantly seriously injure people.

Here is a brief look at some of the specific issues that can be faced and best practice.

Insufficient Training 

It would surprise you to learn just how many people ‘acquired’ their forklift or telehandler ticket one afternoon at a festival, after a quick observation of them already operating. And thats hard to deal with retrospectively.

Is the training provided sufficient? As a guide, a novice operator should undertake 5 days of training, conversions can be done in 2 days.

Also, what about the quality of the trainer and their facilities? Are they working to the Approved Code of Practice issued by the HSE? (read it HERE)

Plant Operator Crew from DNG being trained
DNG Crew training for 9 days on 3 categories of machine. Training provided under the NPORS scheme by Rock City in Plymouth.
Seasonal Operator Crew

A seasonal operator may finish driving in September, then not drive again until May. Therefore, there is a strong case for refresher training.

This can be done at a training centre, or as an informal session. For instance setting practical challenges & running mock theory tests will serve as a good reminder to operators. Keeping records of this training is important.

Non Accredited Training

There is no such thing as a ‘forklift license’. Indeed, there is no legal requirement for a certificate. Also, the HSE no longer administers accreditation schemes. Some workplaces may use in house certificates for internal use.

Would you consider unaccredited plant operator crew on an event site?  When it’s put that simply, obviously not. However, its happening every season.

The HSE encourages the use of Accredited Training Providers. There are five accrediting bodies in the UK devoted to the training of fork lift truck operators. Since April 2000 they have agreed to all use the same test as each other. They are:






For MEWPS, the only recognised accreditation scheme is IPAF.

Best practice in our view should always be that the operator has a valid proof of training. All the bodies listed offer ways to verify.

Expired Tickets

There is some misconception that as long as training has been completed, that this counts indefinitely.

This is never the best practice. The accrediting bodies work to common standards, including expiry. In other words, unless an operator can produce VALID training card, should they operate?

In conclusion, selection of competent plant operator crew or suppliers should be part of effective management of event sites as we plan the season ahead!


Read our blog post about mental health HERE

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