Operating plant

The building and construction industry is the largest employer in the world, and it comes with many inherent risks due to the nature of the work. As a site owner, you will only be too aware of the importance of your employees' health and safety, mainly when operating plant equipment.

Excavator health & safety

It is machinery such as John Deere excavators that act as the workhorses of your business to get the jobs done. However, you must have competent operators at the controls to protect themselves and the machine and the health and safety of the site in general.

Equipment competence

Whether you are a site owner or a construction site worker, it may surprise you that there is no legal requirement to hold a certificate to drive an excavator on a construction site. But, to comply with health and safety requirements, all excavator operators should be trained and competent to operate the equipment they are using, and there are several different methods to achieve this. The most accepted route is to hold a Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) operator card.


Once the CPCS card is awarded, your operator can operate your 180 or 360-degree excavator! If you want to buy or sell quality plant equipment for your newly trained operators, you can find a wide range of machinery, including used excavators, to save on buying a new one.

CPCS operator card

CPCS provides the skills for plant operators. It is the most recognized plant safety scheme, with a card being mandatory on many UK sites. Different CPCS categories are directly related to the specific areas of building and construction activity, including heavy equipment (including tractors bul, dozers, and excavators), lifting equipment (forklift trucks and cranes), as well as elevated mobile work platforms (scissor lifts). Attending and passing a CPCS excavator training course comprising practical and theory tests at an accredited test center will be necessary for those wishing to operate an excavator. Candidates must have passed the appropriate CITB Health, Safety, and Environment Test two years before taking the technical tests.

CPCS license and certification

Red trained operator

The red CPCS trained operator certification card will be awarded on successful completion of the course, valid for two years and non-renewable.
Blue trained operator

It will then be necessary to show you are competent in the excavator category by undertaking the appropriate NVQ in the two-year validity period. This is how you would achieve the Blue Competent Operator Card. The blue card is then valid for 5 years.

Excavator course details

CPCS A10 and A12 180-Degree Training and Testing (Excavator)

  • A10 – below 5 tonnes
  • A12 – above 5 tonnes
This course can be taken by novice and experienced operators but is tailored to those with limited or no experience and usually lasts 10 days. If the course candidate has two or more constant and recent experience, then an alternative 2-day Experienced Worker CPCS course may be more appropriate.

CPCS A58 and A59 360-Degree Training and Testing (Excavator)

  • A58 - below 10 tonnes
  • A59A - tracked above 10 tonnes
  • A59B – wheeled above 10 tonnes
Those who undertake and go on to pass an A59 digger training course for above 10 tonnes shall then have the qualification to drive both types of machines.

Course options are available at the Foundation and Experienced Worker levels, depending on the experience level. All candidates must have completed and passed the core CSCS Health and Safety Touch Screen Test in the last 2 years.