As of 2011, the Australian’s Government’s Work Health & Safety Act states that you don’t need a specific license to operate an excavator. Instead, the responsibility of whether you’re capable or not now falls on what our WHS authorities like to call a PCBU, or person conducting a business or undertaking.

This means that business owners now have to ensure that their employees are competent to operate equipment such as excavators, loaders, skid steers, graders and other common ‘low risk’ earthmoving equipment.

Here’s what you need to know to ensure both you as an operator, and your boss as the PCBU, are properly adhering to WHS legislation.

What earthmoving equipment does not require a license?

Whilst there is a range of equipment that still requires licensing, many of the most common machines found on your average building or demolition site are now exempt from licensing. This includes machinery such as:

  • Excavators
  • Skid steer loaders
  • Front end loaders
  • Bulldozers
  • Graders and Scrapers

Why are there still training courses available for excavators?

There is still a buzzing training industry that runs short courses in excavator operation. Why?

Well, despite the lack of license requirements, there’s often a skills gap that needs to be filled to ensure that operators are up to speed.

Learning about how to operate an excavator through an in-person training course is one of the best ways for your employer to tick the competency box.

Plus, when you have proof that you have undertaken formal training you are immediately more employable, leading to better job search outcomes or potential career progression within your current role.

Find out more: Excavator training courses in Sydney, Brisbane + more 

Where can I get an excavator ticket?

A short course to get your excavator license typically runs for around 3 days. Before signing up to an excavator course you should check the company is a registered training organisation or RTO. The module formally known as ‘Conduct civil construction excavator operations’ is what you’ll need to achieve your excavator ticket, and the course will require you to cover both theory and practical elements.

This Excavator Training Course unit describes a participant’s skills and knowledge required to conduct civil construction excavator operations in Civil construction.

What you’ll learn in an excavator course

Designed for people working in operational roles, an excavator operator course ensures that you’ve got the right skills to safely use and maintain equipment on the job.

After covering a range of safety, procedural and planning topics, you’ll learn how to operate the machine and safely load, carry and place materials around site. The course will also ensure you know how to confidently change attachments, so you can fit things such as buckets, compaction plates, wheels and breakers without issues.

After passing an assessment, you’ll receive a Statement of Attainment (SOA) and a wallet-sized plastic competency card for the unit RIIMPO320F – Conduct civil construction excavator operations. This is your excavator ticket that can be used to prove competency with your employer.

What if you already know how to operate an excavator?

There is another avenue to choose if you have strong experience operating excavators in the past however you don’t have your ticket.

Verification of competency, or VOC, is a way for people who are already skilled in excavator operation to make sure they are complying with current legislation. If you’re an old hand and have a bunch of on the job experience, a VOC is an easy shortcut that recognises your existing skills.

To gain a VOC, a representative from an RTO will meet you on-site and conduct a general assessment of your skills. This can be particularly helpful if you’re a business owner and you have a group of staff that all need endorsement. This process helps employers meet their Workplace Health & Safety obligations.

Verification of competency requirements are usually site and/or company-specific, so check with your chosen RTO about how they will actually verify the operator’s skills on site.

Get your excavator ticket quickly and easily

Find out more about our verification of competency process here, take a look at our excavator training course, or give our friendly team a call for advice on excavator licensing requirements.