UK issues guidance on fitness of equipment operators

By Murray Pollok19 February 2013

Operators of construction equipment in the UK should be medically assessed for fitness every three years according to new guidelines prepared by the industry.

The guidance - launched at the Executive Hire Show earlier this month and available for free download from the website of the Construction Plant-hire Association (www.cpa.uk.net) – was drawn up by the Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group working with the Health & Safety Executive, UKCG (UK Contractors Group), CBH (Constructing Better Health) and others.

This guidance aims to provide clarity about the medical fitness assessment process, and outlines the steps that should be taken by employers – and the self-employed – to ensure that plant operators have an appropriate level of fitness.

The recommended three year assessment frequency “strikes a balance between ensuring that medical assessments are frequent enough to identify changes, but not so frequent that they discourage employees or become an unnecessary expense.”

In his forward to the document, Philip White, HSE’s chief inspector of construction, said; “Construction plant has the potential to injure or kill both operators and bystanders if it is operated, installed or maintained by people who are not medically fit to do so. Employers have a duty to ensure that their employees have the required level of fitness for their job and this guidance is aimed at providing employers and others with the tools to do this.”

One of the purposes of medical assessments is to be able to demonstrate to customers renting plant operators that the operators are medically fit to undertake the tasks they are asked to do.

The guidelines represent good practice, but may go further than the minimum required to comply with the law. Mr White said the advice was straightforward and easy to adopt; “I commend the guidance to anyone who employs people who operate install or maintain construction plant and those with an interest in such matters. Please read the publication and turn the advice into action.”

The document has been published by the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA), the body that runs the UK’s Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group. The working group that prepared the document was chaired by Kevin Minton, a senior manager at CPA.

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