Over the last 5 years, an average of 200 workers each year has been killed in accidents at work. Many more suffer serious injury or illnesses caused by, or made worse by work.

Preventing accidents and ill health caused by work is a key priority for everyone at work and the provision of adequate training and information can have a significant impact on improving health and safety performance in the workplace.

Every employer has a legal duty to ensure that their employees are adequately trained for the work activity they undertake. Relevant legislation applicable to training requirements includes section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc 1974 and Regulation 9 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)  (in particular see paragraph 194 of the PUWER ACOP).

General requirements

Everyone who is involved in a work activity should receive appropriate training:

  • owners and employers;
  • managers and supervisors;
  • employees;
  • the self-employed*

* If a person working under your control and direction is treated as self-employed for tax and national insurance purposes, they may nevertheless be treated as your employee for health and safety purposes.  You should take steps to ensure that they also have been appropriately trained.

Advice on who may need training, what form that training may take and how to organise it can be found at Health and safety training: A brief guide.

It should also be recognised that some people may have particular or additional training needs such as

  • new recruits;
  • people changing jobs or operating different plant and machinery;
  • people taking on extra responsibility;
  • young workers;
  • agency workers
  • migrant workers (including making provision for non-English speakers).

When deciding what type of training requirements you may require and how that training might then be implemented there are a number of significant steps in the process:

  • evaluate what training your organisation needs;
  • prioritise your needs;
  • choose your training methods and resources ie whether outsourced or in-house
  • ensure delivery of  the training;
  • evaluate the training to ensure it has been effective and ensure then put a system is in place for refresher training, if appropriate. 

National standards for training and competence exist in many areas of the waste management and recycling industry within the National Vocational Qualifications framework. These provide a verified set of competence standards for the industry. It is recommended that you use these standards, or other equally effective means, to ensure that employees are competent. There are a number of professional and training organisations that provide specific training courses for people who work in waste and recycling such as:

Further information on general and waste management and recycling related training can be found at:

Plant operator training

The training requirements for drivers of vehicles and plant eg shovel loaders, excavators, fork lift trucks (FLTs), telehandlers etc. in a waste and recycling setting will be no different to other industry sectors (eg general manufacturing, construction and agriculture). Driver competence is judged on the basis of experience, recognised training (formal training – either delivered in-house or externally) and testing of knowledge and ability.

No-one should be allowed to drive (operate) a vehicle or plant unless their employer has authorised them to do so in writing.  The employer should not authorise a driver unless the driver has received adequate training and the employer is satisfied that the driver is competent to operate the particular type of vehicle or plant.

Only training for fork lift truck training is as defined by an Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) and guidance (L117) Rider operated lift trucks: operator training. There is clear guidance as to what is expected regarding training course content, testing, as well as standards for trainers (including recognising certain accrediting bodies to accredit and monitor organisations to train instructors and/or train, test and certificate operators in relation to fork lift trucks). Employers have to demonstrate they have either complied with the ACOP or complied in some other equal way.

Although the ACOP and guidance (L117) does not apply to shovel loaders, excavators and other plant per se the training principles and checklists outlined within L117 can be applied to other plant. Hence, for other vehicle types training should be to a similar standard using the ACOP and guidance as a benchmark.

Certificates of training from recognised training schemes help demonstrate competence. But employers are perfectly entitled to devise and operate their own in-house training schemes - this is especially the case with some larger companies.

While employers may operate their own in-house training schemes, they should have similar content to the more formal training courses that are available. Furthermore, they may find it useful to have the courses delivered by an Accredited Training Provider.

Further information on transport related training can be found at:

First Aid training

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require employers to provide suitable first-aid equipment, facilities and personnel to enable immediate assistance to be given to employees if they are injured or become ill at work.

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Updated 2023-09-06