In October, the Accrediting Bodies Association for Workplace Transport (ABA) tightened requirements for registering certified materials handling equipment (MHE) drivers, stating that all member accrediting bodies should "have in place their own certification registration system" on which all accredited training is "verified and recorded".
With information including course dates, instructor name, truck category and a unique ID number, the robust National Operator Registration Scheme (NORS) from RTITB has been meeting this standard for over 10 years.
Established in 2003, NORS helps employers to avoid hiring untrained/incorrectly trained MHE drivers using counterfeit certificates, helping to ensure high standards of safety in the workplace.
The NORS system keeps detailed records of trained MHE operators so that employers can check whether a potential employee has the relevant training and is registered with a recognised body before hiring them. RTITB's integrated registration system, currently holds more than 450 accredited organisations that carry out RTITB approved training courses nationwide, covering 700 training sites.
"Employers cannot always be sure that an MHE certificate presented by a prospective employee or sub-contractor is genuine, but access to the NORS database simplifies and strengthens the audit trail, giving employers and operators confidence, with traceable proof," says Operations Director of RTITB, Laura Nelson.
The NORS database registers every RTITB trained operator for three years, after which the registration will end and refresher training must be completed to remain on the register of professional operators. This ensures that an operator still remembers all the relevant skills needed to operate the equipment in question. Six months before expiry, the operator is automatically sent a notification advising them to arrange refresher training.
"All employers and recruitment agencies have a duty to stamp out the use of counterfeit certificates and illegal drivers operating heavy duty equipment in the workplace," Laura Nelson states. "This puts staff and businesses at risk."
Each year, NORS rejects over 1700 MHE operator applications due to incomplete or insufficient training. "If NORS did not exist, there would be 1700 untrained and unsafe drivers in the workplace, potentially causing dangerous incidents and causing harm to themselves, others and the businesses that unknowingly employed unqualified operators," Laura Nelson adds.
In comparison to this, NORS has successfully registered over 522,000 qualifications on the system since inception, keeping the majority of workplaces safe from untrained drivers. Each registered operator has their own unique NORS Registration Number, allowing employers to instantly check backgrounds and training history.
The RTITB accredited training organisation offers the registering trainee operator four affordable options as to what they receive in the way of identification. This ranges from the basic package of validation and registration at just £5.20+VAT, to a full package of validation, registration, certification and a photo ID at £9.95+VAT.
RTITB takes customer service seriously, not only supporting employers, but the operators as well. "With such high volumes of NORS registered operators, customer service is essential," says Laura Nelson. "We have over ten years' experience of operating this system with 99.2% of applications turned around in less than 7 working days and an average turnaround time of just 48 hours."
On top of this, NORS registration enables immediate replacement of a lost or damaged certification record, safeguarding the operator from subsequent loss of work for long periods of time due to lack of identification and supports the employer in retrieving crucial information in the event of incident.
Due to the new criteria from the ABA, all MHE operators undergoing accredited training must be registered on the member body's scheme. Following in RTITB's footsteps, this will hopefully eradicate unqualified drivers from the industry and secure a safe working environment for all employers and their employees.