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Section 7 - Driver competence

See references 1, 2, 13

Check that your selection and training procedures ensure your drivers and other employees are capable of performing their work activities safely and responsibly.

Do drivers possess the necessary licences or certificates for the vehicles they are authorised to drive e.g. lift trucks, shunt vehicles, site dumpers etc?

The DVLA does not have responsibility for licensing lift truck operators (provided they do not drive lift trucks on public roads).

For example:

What licence do I need to operate mobile plant in the workplace?

There are no government-issued licences for vehicles at work. The law requires that each operator is given adequate training by their employer so that they are competent to operate the machinery which they use (the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998; regulation 9).

Do I need a valid UK car driving licence to operate plant in the workplace?

No, driving a car and operating mobile plant are very different tasks, although they use some of the same skills. There is no legal requirement for plant operators to hold a road driving licence unless they wish to drive their vehicles on the public highway. All plant driven on the public highway must comply with the appropriate road traffic legislation.

Do you check the previous experience of your drivers and assess them to ensure they are competent?

The amount of training each driver needs will depend on their previous experience and the type of work they will be doing.

You should check that the information they give is true. For example, employers will usually need to check that references to training schemes and other qualifications are supported by certificates.

You may need to assess trainees on site, even when they provide evidence of previous training or related work experience. Always check that trainees understand what they have been asked to do.

People lose skills if they do not use them regularly. An ongoing programme of re-assessment and refresher training will usually be necessary for all drivers and other employees, to make sure their skills continue to be up to date.

Even if drivers often operate vehicles, we recommend regular assessments of their competence and refresher training or more detailed training where necessary to ensure drivers:

  • maintain good driving habits;
  • learn new skills where appropriate; and
  • reassess their abilities.

Your risk assessment should help decide the level and amount of training needed for each type of work.

It is likely that training will need to cover the following:

  • General information about the job, for example:
    • the layout of the workplace routes;
    • how and where to report faults or hazards; and
    • procedures for reporting accidents;
  • training and checks to make sure that people can work safely.  For a driver, this is likely to include:
    • making sure they know how to use the vehicle and equipment safely;
    • information about, for example, particular dangers, speed limits, parking and loading areas, procedures;
    • making sure, they know what personal protective equipment they should wear for the task they are going to do, and how they should use it.  Examples might include high-visibility clothing, head protection, a driver restraint, safety boots and equipment to prevent falls;
    • information on the structure and level of supervision that will apply, and the penalties if they fail to follow instructions and safety working practices.

Do you provide site specific training on how to perform the job, and information about particular hazards, speed limits, the appropriate parking and loading areas, etc?

Every site is different and each site is likely to present hazards and risks.

There should be adequate time for each trainee to have sufficient practical experience to become a safe operator and to do so under close supervision.

The training of operators should always include the three stages of training: 

  • Basic training
    the basic skills and knowledge required for safe operation;
  • Specific job training
    knowledge of workplace and experience of any special needs and specific handling attachments;
  • Familiarisation training
    needs to be done on the job, under close supervision – to put what they have learned during training into practice in the workplace.

Authorisation, records and certificates

Following satisfactory completion of training, the employee should be given written authorisation to operate the type or types of truck for which all three elements of training have been successfully completed.

While there is no legal requirement for certificates of basic training to be issued, they are strongly recommended as a useful, practical means of providing documentary evidence of relevant training having taken place and an appropriate level of operating ability having been attained.

For more information see -

Do you have a planned programme of refresher training for drivers and others to ensure their continued competence?

It is important to keep training records for each employee. These should include enough information to be able to identify the employee, the full training history, planned training, and a copy or details of any certificates or qualifications gained.

As an employer, if you are satisfied that an employee is competent to use a type of vehicle safely, you can store these details and refer to them when necessary to make sure that employees are trained and competent before being allowed to operate particular vehicles. This could be a simple document with details of the types of vehicles (or the specific vehicles) that a person is competent to operate.

People should not be authorised unless the employer is satisfied that the person is competent.

Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) and guidance: Rider operated lift trucks. Operator training and safe use

This sets the minimum standards of basic training people should receive before they are allowed to operate certain types of lift truck.

The ability to drive private cars or other conventional road vehicles, for example, does not remove the need for proper training on lift trucks, which have very different stability and handling characteristics as well as different controls.

Training providers can arrange short assessment courses to judge the ability and training needs of experienced operators who have had limited formal training.

Change of operation:

The employee will need a certificate as evidence of training on any change of employment. 

An operator with basic training on one type of lift truck or handling attachment cannot safely operate others, for which they have not been trained, without additional conversion training.

Where supervisors identify poor operating practices, employers should take appropriate corrective action, including considering refresher training.

Updated 2013-12-23