Employers risk running out of drivers through a lack of Category C licence training, according to RED Driver Risk Management.
The driver training company’s CEO, Seb Goldin, says that for many jobs now, health and safety protocols mean specialist equipment needs to be used.
For example, he explained: “Where once a ladder might have been adequate, now firms are required to use a cherry picker.
“It is certainly safer, but vehicles such as those need qualified drivers and so firms need to ensure they have enough capacity, or risk being unable to complete work because they can’t get the equipment to site.”
Added to which, employees exposed to Covid-19 and required to isolate can mean that firms run out of qualified drivers unexpectedly.
RED Driver Risk Management reports a 125% increase in bookings for Category C licence courses in the past six months as companies recognise they are at risk of running out of drivers.
It’s an issue being particularly felt in the utility sector where the increase in mechanisation means more jobs can only be done with specialist machinery in order to meet health and safety requirements, it says.
In order to counter this, it argues that companies need to recognise that having just one employee qualified to operate such machinery – generally falling under the Category C licence (vehicles 3.5 to 7.5 tonnes GVW) – is not enough and should ensure a second employee is trained in reserve.
Goldin continued: “All companies should have a pool of back-up drivers with qualifications to drive C/C1 vehicles as this gives them cover for illness, as well as covid isolation requirements and general staff turnover.
“In many cases in the rail and utility sector, if a vehicle cannot get to the job because of a lack of qualified driver, then the crew of workers cannot complete their job.
“Many of the vehicles involved are specialist equipment – welding vehicles, cherry pickers, etc, as well as staff welfare vehicles.”
Category C1 training allows employees to drive vehicles from 3.5 tonnes to 7.5 tonnes GVW. Drivers without the Category C1 entitlement are limited to driving vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes.