Do You Need an Excavator Licence?

If you’re embarking on a career in construction, especially as an operator of heavy machinery like an excavator, you may be wondering if you need an excavator licence. Although operators used to require an excavator ticket, changes in the last decade have meant that this is no longer the case. However, while demands for excavator operators may be high with the construction industry booming and a noticeable skill shortage, it remains crucial to understand what qualifications you need to legally and safely operate machinery.

The Evolution of Excavator Licence Requirements

Historically, operators needed individual licences for each type of earthmoving equipment they planned to work with. However, significant changes came into effect in January 2012 with the introduction of new national work health and safety legislation. This reform eliminated the need for specific licences for operating equipment classified under earthmoving or particular crane (EPC) categories, which includes:

  • Excavators (class LE)
  • Front end loaders/backhoes (class LB)
  • Skid steer loaders (class LS)
  • Front end loaders (class LL)
  • Dozers (LZ)
  • Graders (LG)
  • Scrapers (LP)

This regulatory shift means that across the country, formal excavator licences for the mentioned machinery are not required. Responsibility for ensuring operator competency and safety now rests with the Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU), who must verify that all operators are adequately trained.

Demonstrating Competency Without an Excavator Licence

Although specific excavator licences are not mandated, proof of competency remains a
requirement for most employers. This can be achieved through certificates of competency from a Registered Training Organisation (RTOs) or proof of formal training and possession of the necessary skills required for excavator operations, such as the successful completion of an excavator course.

For those new to the field, undertaking excavator training independently is highly recommended. Courses available
through various RTOs provide essential knowledge on machinery operation, worksite hazards, and the construction industry at large.

Upon completing an excavator course, individuals receive documentation of attainment or a competency card, serving as evidence of their training in heavy machinery operation.

The Essential White Card

For anyone looking to work in construction, obtaining a white card is compulsory. This card is
awarded after completing a safety training course that covers workplace hazard recognition, safe task execution, essential OHS legislation and requirements, risk management, and the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE). A white card is a form of nationally recognised training, with training available both face-to-face and online in selected states.

Licence Requirements for Specific Tasks

While an excavator licence per se may not be required, certain tasks performed with the machinery might necessitate other forms of licensing. For instance, in New South Wales, any civil construction or residential building work (including excavation) valued over $5,000 in labour and materials requires a specific licence.

High Risk Work Licences

It’s important to note that while operating standard earthmoving equipment is no longer considered ‘high risk’, certain activities involving heavy machinery still require a high risk work licence. This includes tasks involving scaffolding, demolition, asbestos removal, and operating specific types of cranes and hoists, among others. These licences are obtainable through RTOs across Australia, are a nationally recognised unit, and are transferable between states.

So, Do You Need an Excavator Licence?

In conclusion, while a specific excavator licence may not be necessary for operating standard earthmoving
machinery under current Australian legislation, demonstrating competency through practical training and certification remains crucial.

Prospective operators should seek out relevant courses to ensure they meet employer requirements and maintain worksites safety. Additionally, for certain high risk tasks and roles, obtaining the appropriate high risk work licence is essential for legal and safe operation.

Understanding these requirements and ensuring you have the necessary certifications will not only make you compliant but also enhance your employability in the thriving construction industry.

Upgrade Your Business with an Excavator from Big Man Trailer Co

With seven models in stock from renowned Melbourne manufacturer, MXG Excavators, our excavator range has an option for every business. Whether you need a lightweight and manoeuvrable mini excavator for jobs with restricted access, or something with a little more power and grunt for those heavy duty tasks, you’ll find it at Big Man Trailer Co.

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