To work on construction sites, Plant Operators must prove their knowledge and competence on the plant they operate. Access will become limited if valid cards are not held.

There are 2 card schemes mainly recognised by Contractors to prove competence on site:

  • CPCS – Construction Plant Certification Scheme
  • NPORS – National Plant Operators Registration Scheme

Both schemes have cards for different plant. To obtain the correct card, Operators must demonstrate their knowledge and skills by attending training, passing a test/assessment or achieving an NVQ, whichever is most appropriate to the Operators’ level of experience.

CPCS – There are 2 types of CPCS Card, a Trained Operator (Red) Card and a Competent Operator (Blue) Card.

The first part of achieving full compliance to CPCS is to obtain the Trained Operator (Red) Card.  Operators need to pass a CPCS Technical Test. The test involves a theory and practical part and Operators must pass both and hold a valid CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test (within the last 2 years) to obtain the Card. The Trained Operator (Red) Card is valid for 2 years and cannot be renewed.

Once the Trained Operator (Red) Card is issued, Operators have 2 years to achieve an NVQ Level 2. A valid CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test (within the last 2 years) must be held to upgrade to the Competent Operator (Blue) Card.  The Competent Operator (Blue) Card is valid for 5 years.

When it is time to renew a Competent Operator (Blue) Card, Operators need to:

  • Successfully pass the CPCS Renewal Test(s) for the plant they are qualified to drive. There are 15 multiple choice questions.
  • Hold a valid CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test (within the last 2 years).
  • Prove ongoing plant operation.

NPORS – In order to obtain an NPORS Card, an assessment of Operators’ skills is carried out and a judgement is made on their ability to operate a plant safely. Operators Cards are issued showing the level of training/assessment undertaken and stating the Operator classification, such as Novice, Operator, Experienced Operator (requiring training) or Experienced Operator (requiring no training). NPORS Cards are valid for 3 or 5 years.

CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test – The CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test helps workers prove that they meet a minimum level of health, safety and environmental awareness while working on site. There are 50 multiple choice questions.

Duration – The length of the course depends on the skills and experience of the Operator. CPCS/NPORS tests are carried out in a day.  On average, 2 to 4 visits are required over approximately 6 weeks to complete an NVQ. If training is required, the length of the course will be discussed with a Tutor/Assessor. The CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test is a maximum of 45 minutes.

Location – The location is dependent upon each Operators’ needs. Courses, tests and assessments are carried out at plant training centres, on-site and/or at CITB Health, Safety and Environment testing centres available Nationwide.

Those who successfully complete a course, test or assessment will receive a certificate from a recognised awarding organisation: CITB/CPCS/NPORS/Cskills Awards.

Once the relevant course, test or assessment has been successfully achieved, the appropriate CPCS or NPORS Card can be ordered. For CPCS, Operators must hold a valid CITB Health, Safety and Environment test (within 2 years) to apply for the Card.