Uniform National Standards?

Todd Brennan -
Safety First
- 9 Aug 2007 ( #322 )
2 min read
Todd Brennan is the founder and owner of Forkpro Australia. A former chairman of the Australian Industrial Truck Engineering Committee, Brennan aims to "fill the forklift safety gap" with Forkpro's forklift training courses. Together with his team, he has assisted tertiary institutions, including the Melbourne-based Monash University Accident Research Centre's forklift safety project.
From a young age, we are told that being unique is good. That makes it tough to get state governments to agree on adopting uniform national standards.

I think it was the legendary football commentator Rex Mossop who once declared that someone had managed to do something "simultaneously, together and all that same time"! Each time I hear one of our politicians talking about globalisation, standardisation, harmonisation, uniformity and the like, I immediately think of that classic line because at the end of the day they are all good for a chuckle.

As things now stand, each Australian state has its own varying processes for licensing of industrial equipment users, differing age requirements for these users, some variation in licence (previously called certificates of competency) classes and many other idiosyncrasies. The federal government has had the goal of harmonising this area for some time now.

By now, most would be aware of the new National Standard for Licensing Persons Performing High Risk Work. This replaces the previous National Occupational Health and Safety Certification Standard for Users and Operators of Industrial Equipment [NOHSC:1006(2001)]. Basically these standards outline the minimum competence requirements for Industrial Equipment Operators within Australia.

Some of the key points of the new standard include the migration of the licence, training and assessment process to the vocational education sector or, as you may know them, Registered Training Organisations (private providers) or State Training Organisations (TAFE and the like). The main difference noticeable to the end user will be the process by which licences are issued and the likely inclusion of a set number of training hours prior to assessment, five-year renewal and a photo on the licence card.

For this to be implemented, each state has to adopt it in legislation and the plan was that it should have happened on July 1st this year. Unfortunately, only Queensland actually did so, while Western Australia and Tasmania are to follow soon. Other states are considering time-frames over the next few years.

The second stage of this process is the review of all licence classes, based heavily upon the level of risk and methods of use. The ASCC standard has already dropped all earthmoving equipment classes. In general, state jurisdictions are still considering this development, but a licence to operate various classes of earthmoving equipment is still required and unlikely to be dropped on a state basis.

Overall, the introduction of this standard was to bring all state processes and procedures to obtain an Industrial Licence into line and to place this process with the VET sector. In doing so, the harmonised environment should enhance the levels of competence and safety of users. However, as all states maneuver, it is becoming increasinlyg evident that we may end up with just as many idiosyncrasies - if not more - than currently exist.

In this day of the global community, shouldn't all states be pulling "together, simultaneously and all at the same time"?
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