Press release featured in Feb/March 2013 edition of Sign Update Magazine and featured on the Sign Update Magazine Website.

I’ll start by diffusing a little myth: It is not a legal requirement to hold a particular accredited training certificate to work on site or operate a specific piece of equipment. In fact it’s not a legal requirement to have accredited training at all.

What is required by law is that employers must provide adequate training to ensure the competence of their employees. This responsibility continues that employees should receive on-going support, advice and guidance such that they are able to complete their job and its associated work tasks without risk of injury or harm to themselves or others.

There are a number of accreditation schemes which are recognised by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to help set and maintain professional training standards. Examples include ITSSAR (Forklift, Plant, Craneand more), PASMA (Mobile Scaffold Tower), IPAF (Aerial Work Platform).

In essence, accreditation is a kite mark of quality. It means that a training provider such as Didac Ltd and its delivery staff are monitored by one or more of these independent external bodies and has met the conditions of accreditation. This requires that accredited training providers keep up to date and accurate training records, whilst trainers are monitored on a regular basis so they consistently meet the required standards for training and safety. Accredited training providers bridge the gap between employers and the HSE, thereby assuring employers that the training provided to equipment operators is of an acceptable standard.

By way of example, signage installation, big or small, might require the use of specialist equipment such as a Cherry Picker or Scaffold Tower. An employer must provide suitable and sufficient equipment training to ensure employees possess the necessary knowledge and skill to conduct the installation safely. Another duty of care however, lies with the site on which the installation is being completed to ensure that only competent persons are permitted to operate.

To achieve this, sites will often require the credentials of each equipment operator to be checked before access to work is permitted. Card schemes such as PASMAor IPAF provide photo ID cards to successful training candidates for this verification process. As we now know, accreditation provides a seal of quality to you as an employer; this is also true for any site manager.

Refusal to work on site can be problematic and undesirable for all involved causing disruption to work schedules. Avoiding such situations retains the professional outward appearance of your organisation and means that health and safety does not get in the way of conducting business.

There is, however, no universal site-ticket, so it cannot be said that any specific accreditation is a gateway to work on every site in the UK. If you have a job on site where another organisation is the authority on health and safety, our advice is to check first whether they require a particular accreditation. Access to work remains the decision of the person responsible for site Health and Safety, they may be limited in the accreditations that they recognise and that is their prerogative.

Either way, the underlying message has to be stay safe by ensuring the competency of your staff. There are still far too many work related accidents and deaths in the UK. Proper training is a must but accredited training raises safety and provides an audit trail in the event of an incident, which could be the difference between an incident being classified as an accident or negligence.