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Thu January 21 2021

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Scottish plant owners call for stronger action on drink and drugs

24 Nov 20 Plant owners in Scotland want cards taken off machinery operators who fail drug or alcohol tests.

The Scottish Plant Owners Association (SPOA) said that there is currently no penalty except from being banned from that particular site or dismissed by the employer. In the short term, operators are sent home and will not be allowed to work that day but there is no long-term penalty as they can apply to work for a new employer or be sent to work on a different site.

There is a view that they should lose their 'licence'.

“SPOA is calling for a system similar to that operated by the rail industry where card holders have their cards either temporarily suspended or permanently revoked,” it said.

A meeting has been held with representatives from the National Plant Operators Registration Scheme (NPORS) and the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS), who all gave their full support for the proposal. SPOA has now sent a letter to other stakeholders seeking support for its initiative.

Stakeholders include the Health & Safety Executive, Construction Leadership Council (CLC), National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC), Build UK, Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), Construction Plant Hire Association (CPA), Federation Piling Specialists (FPS), Scottish Building Federation (SBF) and Home Builders Federation (HBF).

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Callum Mackintosh, vice president of the Scottish Plant Owners Association (SPOA), explained: “For too long we have turned a blind eye to the failure of our industry to tackle the prevalence of failed drug and alcohol tests. This failure substantially increases the risk of accidents or death on site for the operator and those working around them.

“Construction projects across the UK require plant operators to hold NPORS or CPCS cards. The fact that you can still retain your card and continue to operate plant after failing an on-site drug and alcohol test makes a mockery of both our system and our industry. I can’t think of any other sector where this is allowed to happen. It is time for change.

“While we recognise that there may be other issues facing those in the industry who turn to drugs or alcohol, and we aim to support them wherever we can, this is ultimately about making the industry safer and more professional. By working collectively, we can ensure this happens.”

Over the course of the next few months, SPOA will continue to engage with its members and all relevant stakeholders to agree how the change can be implemented as soon as is practical. Plant owners and operators are encouraged to discuss the issues with their relevant trade bodies and employers, or get in touch with SPOA with any ideas, questions or concerns.

It is not a legal requirement to have a CPCS or NPORS card to drive heavy construction machinery off the road, but as most employers demand it, it would be hard to make a living that way if cards were withdrawn.

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