Proving driver competency08 January 2024

(Image credit: AdobeStock by Lisa F Young)

On the back of continuing incidents involving on- and off-road plant vehicles, new driver training is being brought in to prove drivers can do the job, reports Tom Austin-Morgan

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported in May 2023 that 20 people sustained fatal injuries at work in the UK after being struck by a moving vehicle in 2022/23. Those figures didn’t include the death of a London cyclist in a road traffic accident involving a construction vehicle.

“The industry has been full of safety alerts and incident investigation reports for years asking if the driver’s competence had been checked,” says Mark Cowan, director of MinTrain, an industry training and assessment provider.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) is currently piloting significant changes to many plant training standards and grant programmes. The primary objective of these changes is to establish uniform plant training and testing requirements throughout the construction industry.

These standards have been developed in collaboration with industry working groups that comprise employers, providers and federations, and mark a substantial shift in the approach to delivering plant training and testing. They aim to simplify the system and enhance the accessibility of grants.

According to CITB, the first phase of the changes will see new standards introduced for the following:

  • Excavator 360°, above 10 tonnes (tracked)
  • Forward tipping dumper (wheeled)
  • Rear tipping dumper/dump truck: articulated chassis (all sizes)
  • Ride on roller
  • Telescopic handler: all sizes excluding 360° slew
  • Industrial forklift
  • Plant and vehicle marshaller
  • Slinger, signaller: all types, all duties.

  • Christopher Simpson, head of quality and standards at CITB, said: “These changes will help standardise and improve the quality and consistency of plant training, increase the amount of plant training that takes place before testing and increase the number of people trained in plant operations, particularly new entrants to construction.”

    In addition to the updated standards, the grant rates for plant training and testing are set to undergo enhancements and modifications. Presently, there are three distinct, smaller grants accessible for practical tests, theory tests and short course training, and employers have the flexibility to apply for them individually. However, with the forthcoming changes, a single grant will be introduced, which will be accessible to all CITB-registered employers.

    To qualify for these grants, employers must meet CITB’s updated standards (which result in a qualification bearing the CSCS logo) and ensure that the training is provided by an approved training organisation (ATO).

    Moving forward, employers will be required to furnish their CITB registration number to an ATO, which will subsequently apply for the grant on their behalf. Any other plant training that falls outside the scope of the new standards will continue to be eligible for grants, and the application process for such training will remain unchanged.

    Moreover, a distinct, higher ‘novice’ grant rate will be introduced for employers which are enrolling staff in plant training programmes but lack prior experience with the specific machinery they are being trained to operate. This measure is designed to address the industry’s demand for a greater number of highly skilled and proficient plant operators.

    Driver cards for off-road plant are used to track and manage operator activities within construction sites. They can play a vital role in ensuring safety, competence, and compliance, but they also come with certain challenges that need to be carefully managed to reap the full benefits of such a system (see box).

    In any case, operators are responsible for demonstrating that their systems meet the prescribed standards. Auditors must possess a comprehensive understanding of the requirements and provide clear evidence of compliance.


    As this issue went to press, the government published proposals to reform the driver certificate of professional competence (DCPC) qualification for commercial vehicles ( It is considering introducing a periodic test instead of accumulating 35 hours of training for DCPC renewals, reducing minimum course lengths to 3.5 hours and developing new content.

    Elsewhere, The Road Transport Industry Training Board (RTITB) is enhancing its driver CPC periodic training by introducing and automated training record review system from November 2023. The new system promises to provide a more efficient verification of training records more transparency in the auditing process, and focusing on providing tailored support, advice and insights.

    Cowan says: “MinTrain and EMPI Awards recently had the first category of our site vehicle competence assessment (On-Road) (Mixers) accredited by SQA as the world’s first regulated vocational qualification for drum and volumetric mixer drivers.” He adds that while mixers were the most significant area of need in terms of safety, MinTrain is developing further categories that include tippers, tankers, skip loaders and many other vehicle types used on sites daily.

    “An actual competence card scheme for the transport industry has long been needed, allowing a set standard for each vehicle type,” he adds.


    1. Driver cards can serve as proof of an operator’s training and competence. They can help ensure that operators have received proper training and are qualified to operate specific types of construction equipment safely.

    2. Driver cards can track an operator’s safety record, ensuring that they follow safety protocols and guidelines on construction sites. This can help reduce accidents and improve overall site safety.

    3. The construction industry often has strict regulations and standards. Driver cards can assist in ensuring compliance with these regulations and maintaining proper records to demonstrate adherence.

    4. Monitoring operator performance through driver cards can help identify areas where operators may need additional training or where equipment may need maintenance, improving overall efficiency and productivity on construction sites.

    5. Driver cards can track equipment usage, fuel consumption, and maintenance schedules, helping to control operating costs and reduce wastage.


    1. Implementing and maintaining a driver card system can be expensive for construction companies, including the initial setup, hardware, software, and ongoing training.

    2. Operators may have privacy concerns about constant monitoring of their activities on construction sites. Addressing these concerns is essential.

    3. Managing the data generated by driver cards, especially on large construction sites with multiple operators and equipment, can be complex. Proper data management systems are necessary.

    4. Ensuring that driver card systems can integrate with other construction management systems or CITB’s requirements can be a challenge.

    5. Both operators and management may require training to use the driver card system effectively. Training costs and potential resistance to change can be drawbacks.

    6. The reliance on technology means that the system must be reliable. Downtime or technical issues can disrupt construction site operations.

    Tom Austin-Morgan

    Related Companies
    Construction Industry Training Board

    This material is protected by MA Business copyright
    See Terms and Conditions.
    One-off usage is permitted but bulk copying is not.
    For multiple copies contact the sales team.