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New crane licensing requirement for excavator operators won’t improve safety, says CCF WA

31 Mar 2022 9:38 AM | Caroline Boyer (Administrator)

Western Australia’s civil construction industry has been blindsided by a new State Government regulation that from today will force thousands of excavator operators to obtain a crane operator’s licence before they can perform straightforward lifting tasks on sites.

With the introduction of the new Work Health and Safety Regulations, WA is the only state in Australia that requires operators of earthmoving machinery to possess a crane operator’s licence when lifting and shifting loads.

Civil Contractors Federation Western Australia (CCF WA) CEO Andy Graham said the industry had largely been caught unaware by the new regulation.

“The new WHS regulations, comprising 800-plus pages, were only gazetted a few weeks ago and this sweeping change to licensing requirements is tucked away as a footnote to a schedule,” Mr Graham said.

“We aren’t aware of any forthcoming advice from WorkSafe about this change, and industry doesn’t appear to have been consulted.

“Underlining the haste and lack of consideration with regards to implementing this change, the newly mandated crane operator training is not even designed to train operators of earthmoving equipment.

“The crane operator licensing training packages are designed around the harmonised national WHS system, which recognises that a crane is nothing like an excavator, and vice versa. Sending thousands of excavator operators off for a crane licence will certainly be a windfall for training providers but it will do nothing for safety.

“If the Government was serious about improving safety, it would ensure the appropriate training in excavator operations – which covers safe lifting techniques – was being delivered to a more consistent standard. This is the sort of unintended consequence of departing from the national framework, which could have been avoided with consultation.”

Mr Graham said the new regulation had been introduced with no consultation, no advice, and no transition period. He said it was out of step with safety and training frameworks in every other state in Australia and would not improve safety.

CCF WA has urged the Government to defer implementation of this new regulation pending further consultation.

“Ultimately, this regulation is unnecessary and should be removed,” Mr Graham said.

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