Operator training milestone
09 March 2015
Mentor FLT Training has welcomed the roll out of the Accrediting Bodies Association’s operator training register as “an important step forward” in standardising workplace transport training.
Introduced by the Accrediting Bodies Association (ABA) in September, the operator training register has been designed to give employers more confidence in verifying the authenticity of training certification presented by potential employees.
The scheme is the result of close co-operation between members of the ABA for workplace transport, whose founders include AITT, ITSSAR, NPORS and RTITB.
Mentor technical manager Andy Cartwright explains: "This is an important step forward for workplace transport training and for employers.
"Behind this move, the ABA’s primary aim is to standardise the quality of training and create a robust archive of training records. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce incidents, injuries and fatalities while helping employers improve their productivity and profitability, by allowing them to quickly check and validate training for current or prospective employees with the accrediting body."
Under the scheme, all operators completing courses run by ABA associated training providers will be added to a national register maintained by each accrediting body. Operators completing training with Mentor, for example, would have details of their accredited training recorded in a central register held by AITT.
Details of the courses undertaken and the types of machinery involved will be held within the operator training registers for each accrediting body, who will be responsible for ensuring that training meets the required standards. Upon completion of the checking procedure, the operator will be given the relevant certification and a unique ID number.
The ABA was formed in 2012 following the Health and Safety Executive’s review of L117 (Rider-operated lift trucks. Operator training and safe use. Approved Code of Practice and Guidance).
During consultation, it was decided that the HSE would no longer manage the accreditation scheme. Instead, the scheme’s management would be handed back to the accrediting bodies, with the HSE taking an advisory role.
To meet the needs of the new situation, the ABA was formed. Its code of practice’s requirements included the establishment of a national operator training register.
"When you are looking for training, look for the ABA logo,” advises Andy Cartwright. "It’s a sign that your training will meet the high standards required.”
The National Operator Registration Scheme (NORS) from RTITB is another scheme operating under the ABA's tightened requirements. RTITB has been meeting this standard for over 10 years. NORS helps employers to avoid hiring untrained/incorrectly trained MHE drivers using counterfeit certificates, helping to ensure high standards of safety in the workplace. The NORS system keeps detailed records of trained MHE operators so that employers can check whether a potential employee has the relevant training and is registered with a recognised body before hiring them.
"Employers cannot always be sure that an MHE certificate presented by a prospective employee or sub-contractor is genuine, but access to the NORS database simplifies and strengthens the audit trail, giving employers and operators confidence, with traceable proof," says operations director of RTITB, Laura Nelson.
"Each year, NORS rejects over 1700 MHE operator applications due to incomplete or insufficient training.”
The NORS database registers every RTITB trained operator for three years, after which the registration will end and refresher training must be completed to remain on the register of professional operators. This ensures that an operator still remembers all the relevant skills needed to operate the equipment in question. Six months before expiry, the operator is automatically sent a notification advising them to arrange refresher training.
"All employers and recruitment agencies have a duty to stamp out the use of counterfeit certificates and illegal drivers operating heavy duty equipment in the workplace," Laura Nelson states. "This puts staff and businesses at risk.”
Each year, NORS rejects over 1700 MHE operator applications due to incomplete or insufficient training. "If NORS did not exist, there would be 1,700 untrained and unsafe drivers in the workplace, potentially causing dangerous incidents and causing harm to themselves, others and the businesses that unknowingly employed unqualified operators,” Laura Nelson adds.