Heavy Going: Serious Machinery In Civilian Life

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Chances are, you’ve been at the helm of some serious machinery during your time in the Armed Forces. How can you make that the foundation of a civilian career using heavy plant machinery and vehicles? 

From Civvy Street Magazine, February 2014

It’s not often that you hear a government minister, union official and qualification body ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’, but that’s what happened in the first days of 2014, with the introduction of a new scheme specifically aimed at improving training and skill standards for those behind the steering wheels of the UK’s many fuel tankers.

Before the end of the year, drivers of these vehicles will need to complete new training (both classroom and practical) and successfully pass the associated assessments in order to be issued with the new Petroleum Driver Passport (PDP) card. This will be in addition to existing requirements for the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR), which drivers are already required to renew every five years. Terminals will begin using the PDP, created by the UK Downstream Oil Distribution Forum (DODF), as a requirement of entry from the start of 2015.

“The scheme is now fully open for business and drivers can now work to obtain the PDP during 2014,” explained the Independent Chair of DODF, Brian Worrall. “I am particularly pleased that we have been able to integrate the PDP requirements with both ADR and with Driver CPC (Driver Certificate of Professional Competence), which is a great benefit to the industry.”

Driven To Qualify

The introduction of PDP underlines the fact that, if you’re considering using any Military-honed driving skills on your return to civilian life – even just as a back-up option – then you need to ensure you don’t just have the most appropriate ‘paperwork’ in your wallet, but also the most up to date – although, of course, just like driving licences, these days we’re talking credit-card sized pieces of plastic rather than crumpled paper!

At some point during your Military career, you’re likely to have been among more than 19,000 British Military personnel who annually pass through the Defence School of Transport (DST), based at Normandy Barracks in East Yorkshire. The Driver Training Wing (DTW) is very good at ensuring you can acquire your initial driving licence (ranging from Category B for cars to C for LGVs and D for coaches) before enhancing your skills with Military training and even possibly ADR, with the resulting qualifications fully accredited with the appropriate civilian authorities.

Since the 1990s, the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) has worked to improve site workers’ competence, reduce accidents and increase on-site efficiencies within the UK’s construction sector. The scheme keeps a database of those working in construction that achieve (or can demonstrate they have already attained) an agreed level of occupational competence; and you are issued with a CSCS card providing evidence of your ID and skills. Basic CSCS courses are available through the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) as part of your Resettlement package; commercial training companies (and also industry body CITB) offer specific courses for operating equipment ranging from excavators and dumper trucks to mini-diggers and dozers.

Vehicle Licensing Categories

A: Motorbikes

B: Cars

B+E: Car with trailer

C: Vehicle over 3,500kg (with a trailer up to 750kg)

C+E: lorries over 3,500kg (with a trailer over 750kg)

C1: Vehicle between 3,500kg and 7,500kg (with trailer up to 750kg)

D: Buses with more than eight seats (and trailer up to 750kg)

D+E: Buses with more than eight seats (with a trailer over 750kg)

D1: Minibus with up to 16 seats (with or without trailer up to 750kg)

D1+E: Minibus with up to 16 seats (trailer over 750 kg, but not heavier than the minibus)

Keep Up To Date

However, as already suggested, you do need to keep yourself up to date with qualification requirements, and there’s no better time for this than during your Resettlement. For example, if you already have an LGV licence under your belt, you can attend a regularly-held CTP course which will lead to gaining your Driver CPC. This qualification is now a requirement (admittedly with some exceptions) for all professional bus, coach and lorry drivers working anywhere within the European Union, with fines of up to £1,000 for those working without one.

Admittedly, if you gained a LGV vocational licence before 10 September 2009, you are assumed to have “acquired rights” to this accreditation; your practical driving experience is counted as being equal to taking the Driver CPC initial qualification. That said, you’re still expected to complete the required 35 hours of periodic training – by 9 September 2014–if you wish to work as a professional lorry driver. Such training has to be through a recognised course from an approved training provider; and subsequently, you will be required to maintain at least 35 hours of periodic training every subsequent five years to keep your Driver CPC.

Taking this particular seven-day CTP-provided course will ensure that everything is up to date, not least thanks to its section on the carrying of dangerous goods (either in containers/receptacles or in bulk), driving of road tankers and vehicles carrying tank containers – for all of which you now require an ADR Certificate (and also the new PDP). If you already hold an ADR Certificate with more than 12 months validity left, on completion of this course you’ll only receive a certificate for any classes for which you were not already qualified (although they will be back-dated to when you passed your core module). However, if you have less than 12 months validity left, you will simply receive a new certificate which will be valid for five years.

Change of Address?

It’s important to remember that, on successfully completing such courses, the all-important “paperwork” will be issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (usually four to six weeks after the examination); so you need to ensure they have your most up to date contact details.