Meet the trainer – Marcus

When did you first become an instructor and how did it happen?

I qualified as a RTITB instructor in July 2004, converted to ITSSAR in Nov 2004, then became an ITSSAR accredited Tutor in May 2012 and passed my NPORS instructor course in May 2015.

Prior to becoming an MHE instructor in 2004, I was serving in the Royal Engineers, British Army and had passed an instructor course and held various training positions. It was then that I realised I enjoyed training people.

What is the best part of the job?

I thoroughly enjoy carrying out the duties of an ITSSAR Tutor – training personnel to be instructors on pieces of equipment they could only operate prior to the course. And then seeing them deliver various practical and theory lessons at the end of the course which they would never have dreamed of before. And then the smile on their face when you’ve told them they have passed and that they are now fully fledged instructors.

What is the worst part of the job?

The travel – I know we as instructors do not travel as far as a lot of other personnel in the Company but living in the South East of England and having to battle with a certain M25 is quite painful and very time consuming at times.

Most memorable jobs, (location equipment, people etc)

In 1994 I was selected to represent the Royal Engineers as an instructor in New Zealand for 4 months, training the Kiwi Royal Engineers on predominately bridge building and mine warfare.

For 6 months in 1998 I delivered mines awareness training in Bosnia to school children. That was very enjoyable and extremely rewarding.

More recently I have travelled to Holland to deliver training on – Vehicle Mounted Loaders (HIAB’s), Forklift Trucks, Mobile Elevated Working Platforms and Slinger Banksman for Didac

Furthest distance travelled to conduct training (either with us or another company)

The other side of the world to New Zealand – British Army more recently two different jobs in Holland – with Didac.

Favourite equipment to train on?

Transportable Forklift Truck – or as most people know it as – Moffett Mounty. These are very lightweight forklift trucks carried on the back of a lorry, but still have a rated capacity of anything up to 2 ton. Mounting and dismounting the truck onto the back of the lorry is my favourite part of the training

Tell us something interesting about yourself that we may not already know…..

At the tender old age of 53 (soon 54) – I still haven’t officially retired from playing football yet!!!!!!!

Meet the trainer – Kevin

We asked our team to tell us a bit more about themselves and their training careers, the good, the not so good etc. First up is Midlands based Kevin Foley…

 

When did you first become an instructor and how did it happen?

I first became an Instructor in 2004 after being made redundant from a car parts factory, and with my redundancy money I paid to do a fork lift instructors course with a local company.

On passing the course they offered me terms of employment which I happily took to gain the experience I needed to progress.

 

What is the best part of the job?

The best part of the job for me is meeting different people and going to different locations the enjoyment it can give to the delegates we train. Some may struggle at first with the new skills being taught but with determination and hard work can achieve a good pass. Getting them there is very satisfying.

 

What is the worst part of the job?

Some parts of our work can be less enjoyable for example travelling long distances (It’s not all glamour), Staying in a nice hotel can relieve the stress of travelling however so you’re nice and refreshed for the next day.

 

Most memorable jobs, (location equipment, people etc)

My most memorable jobs include climbing to the top of St Paul’s Cathedral and looking over the views of London on a sunny spring day during a break in training. They were also filming the new Mary Poppins film there at the time but unfortunately not on that day.

Silverstone race track is always a pleasure to train at, and the team that work there in trying to keep the day to day amateur racers safe are always great.

Palmer Sports was another enjoyable place I have visited for training. Apparently the Fifth Gear series was filmed there so I’m told although nothing was being filmed while I was there.

Pinewood Studios was a potentially exciting job to do. On arrival I was signed in and escorted to the place where training was to take place. I was told that I may see actors and actresses along the way as filming for the then new Star Wars film was going on. Unfortunately, on meeting my contact I was told the training area was going to be 2 miles away at a not so glamorous garden centre! Never mind as nothing surprises you in our line of work.

 

Furthest distance travelled to conduct training

The furthest distance travelled was probably up to Glasgow a mere 324 miles away which I chose to drive to (with several breaks along the way). That was a while ago however before I joined Didac.

Abersoch in Wales I do remember as being a particularly great drive, driving through Snowdonia National Park with Spectacular views of Lakes and rivers on a boiling hot day, stopping several times just to take photos of it’s wonderful sights and natural beauty.

Favourite equipment to train on?

I don’t particularly have any favourite equipment I train on as enjoy them all!  I would have to say if it’s a nice sunny day I would love to be working outside and if it’s raining inside! So for me any equipment is fine providing I don’t get too wet!

Tell us something interesting about yourself…

In my spare time I enjoy Snooker usually playing at least once a week. I managed to beat my highest break (and clearance) recently being 96 after a previous highest break of 83.

I was pretty sporty in my youth having played football in my younger days on Saturday and Sunday. I also ran cross-country for the School and the County (once) and I also played Tennis for a local club. I also played golf and was a member of Oundle Golf Club for 12 years.

Oh… and when I was about eight I played the Piano accordion….  Badly!!

Myth buster.. NPORS not being accepted on site

A good number of the enquiries we receive specifically ask us for CPCS training, when we explain that we don’t offer CPCS but do offer an acceptable alternative in the CSCS logo NPORS cards we are often told that their site wont accept NPORS and it has to be CPCS. This should not be the case and an NPORS card should be acceptable to any site regardless if its a Build UK site or not.

We have experienced this problem after a client was turned away from a major contractors site with one of our NPORS issued cards. They called us up naturally concerned and more than a little peeved after we had told them that the card would be acceptable at the site. This was quickly resolved after I called the site and emailed them the clarification issued by their own company (which the site manager had not been aware of). Following this the operator’s card was accepted with no further issues!

Because of this ongoing problem NPORS and CSCS have attempted to clarify the situation and have recently issued statements to make it clear for all parties involved, the CSCS and NPORS statements are linked for you below…

We at Didac can offer the CSCS logo cards should they be required providing certain criteria is met, please contact us for further details…

https://www.cscs.uk.com/news/npors-cards-wrongly-turned-away-from-site/

NPORS cards wrongly turned away from site

 

 

 

Refresher Training

Whilst refresher training has never technically been a legal requirement the Health and Safety Executive has always stressed the benefits of regular refresher training. With time peoples skills can deteriorate due to bad habits or potentially due to skill fade if they don’t operate the machinery very often.

As a company and in line with ITSSAR requirements none of our ITSSAR cards or certificates have an expiry date they simply state that the HSE recommends refresher training at regular intervals. We have considered adding a recommended refresher date but even that isn’t always as easy as it sounds as that can differ depending on the individual circumstances.

We are often asked what the refresher period is and that really depends on the individual and the working environment. If someone passes a test then hardly operates a machine then we would recommend a more regular refresher’s but if they operate the equipment every day for hours at a time then the refresher could be less often.

Like our previous post regarding honesty the benefit of a refresher is not simply a piece of paper it is an important factor in maintaining good operators and keeping accidents and risks down and shouldn’t be seen as an inconvenience more of a benefit.

We are currently contacting a lot of our clients who either haven’t completed refreshers or may have gone elsewhere to remind them of the benefits of these refresher courses. The surprising thing is how many companies either didn’t know their operators were due for refreshers or didn’t realise the benefits of this refresher training.

Refresher training is an important factor in the ongoing safety of plant operations and should be seen as a benefit not a burden.

Honesty is the best policy…..

We are very lucky at Didac that it is very rare that training ever gets cancelled when we arrive on site and for the most part when it does it is for an unavoidable reason (candidate sickness, equipment break downs etc). However recently we seem to have had a few issues that have caused training to be cancelled when our trainer has arrived at the site that were beyond our control and that were entirely preventable.

During the booking process it is stressed by our sales team that experience levels must be accurately communicated as there are minimum duration’s laid down by our accrediting bodies (ITSSAR and NPORS). However, it is not unusual to find out that candidates do not actually have the experience claimed (as one of our trainers experienced recently). Two of his three experienced telehandler operators had never in fact even sat on a telehandler or even any other kind of lift truck before! Problems like this only cause issues on site for us, the trainee’s and ultimately for the clients themselves.

Sadly, these issues seem to be caused occasionally because some companies see that the duration’s are based on experience and will exaggerate their trainees experience to try and reduce the amount of training days and therefore ultimately the cost. As I have always stated we at Didac provide quality training and which leads to good trained operators and if people try to skimp on training time we cannot achieve that level of quality. The more training time we get the more productive the training ultimately becomes.

If we arrive on site and the experience is not what we have been led to believe it will invariably lead to the need for additional days training or in some cases cancellation of the entire training.

The definitions of experience from NPORS are:

Novice                                Little or no experience

Experienced                      More than 6 months regular operating experience

Refresher                           Successfully completed formal training within the last 5 years

Assessment Only             Previously trained, highly competent operator, operating on a regular basis

The other issue we occasionally get is a lack of facilities or even in some cases unsafe or even illegal equipment. Again, strict equipment and facilities information is sent out to clients at the enquiry stage which lays down the minimum requirements that we and the accrediting bodies expect. If those facilities are not provided we cannot conduct the training to the required standard and restricted training or certification is the best we can do (assuming we can even do that!)

One recent issue was where we were expected to train three novice telehandler operators in an area that wasn’t even big enough to turn the machine round, there were also no lifting heights available. Unsurprisingly the course was cancelled on arrival suddenly leaving us with a trainer with no work for the next four days.

Quality training needs the right facilities and the right starting point, make sure you give your candidates the best possible chance of not just passing a test but becoming good confident equipment operators by giving us the correct information right at the start. The interesting aspect to this is when the client quibbles about the fact that they will still be charged for the day if not the whole course as a result of circumstances beyond our control and entirely of their doing.

I have stated many times if you want quality training and good operators get in touch, if you don’t care about the training and just want a ‘piece of paper’ we probably aren’t your best option.

 

The Accreditation Conundrum

One of the most often asked questions to our office concerns the validity of our qualifications and it seems there is still much confusion as to the different accrediting bodies and the different cards available. For example, ITSSAR, NPORS, RTITB, AITT, IPAF, ALLMI, CPCS and LEEA as well as numerous others.

There are so many different cards and certificates out there it can be difficult to keep up! The Health and Safety Executive have previously stated that there is no definitive training scheme in their opinion and providing that training is to a recognised standard then that’s good enough for them.

At Didac we are dual accredited to ITSSAR and NPORS who are both founder members of the Accrediting Bodies Association (ABA) along with RTITB and AITT. Both of our accreditations meet the HSE’s requirements and should be accepted on any UK site, however some sites do still insist on certain card schemes.

For example, Build UK is an organisation consisting of many of the major construction companies in the UK and historically they have always insisted on the CPCS card scheme for their sites. This has been very limiting to operators as the associated costs are high and the standard of training is not necessarily any better than the more affordable alternatives.

In June 2016 Build UK announced that NPORS cards would be accepted on their sites as well as CPCS cards and this was a very welcome change to their previous stance. The proviso is that the NPORS card must carry the CSCS logo to be accepted on the site. To have the CSCS logo on the NPORS card a basic site safety CSCS touchscreen test must have been previously undertaken by the candidate.

Their statement is detailed below:

“The National Plant Operators Registration Scheme (NPORS), the scheme recording plant operators’ training and assessment, has also been awarded the CSCS logo after successfully completing their audit. The scheme will now operate two card systems, one for construction related occupations which will carry the CSCS logo, and one for non-construction related occupations, which won’t.

All NPORS cards for construction related occupations now require the operative to attain an industry relevant NVQ. Transitional arrangements are being introduced for operatives whose NPORS card does not have a CSCS logo:

  • A blue Competent Operator card will be available for operatives who have achieved an S/NVQ
  • A new red Trained Operator card will be available for operatives who do not hold an S/NVQ, and will be valid for two years. During that time operatives will be required to achieve the S/NVQ for their plant occupation and move on to the blue Competent Operator card.

The changes to the CCDO and NPORS scheme not only meet CLC requirements but also give main contractors the confidence that cardholders are trained to the highest standards.”

Sadly, we have experienced problems as it seems that not all sites have been aware of the changes to the Build UK stance on the acceptable cards.

We can also offer in-house unaccredited training which also meets all your legal requirements and is delivered in the same way as the accredited training. The only drawback of this training is that it limits the certification to your own company and site.

If you have any questions on the different accreditations you can email me at [email protected] and I’ll do my best to answer them.

More details of our accreditations can be found at www.ITSSAR.org.uk or www.NPORS.com