Scottish plant owners highlight alcohol problem

23 November 2020

The Scottish Plant Owners Association (SPOA) has called for the industry to address the “widespread problem” of machine operators failing drug and alcohol tests without there being any impact on their competence cards.

SPOA said if a plant operator fails a test they can be banned from a site or dismissed by their employer, but there are no consequences for their operator cards. The association is calling for cards to be suspended or revoked, as happens in the UK’s rail industry.

Plant operator

SPOA is calling on action over the misuse of alcohol and drugs by equipment operators.

The organisation said it recognised that operators who fail tests may be facing other issues, and said it would support them where it could, but argued that the initiative was necessary to ensure a safe and professional industry.

According to SPOA, the National Plant Operators Registration Scheme (NPORS) and the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) are supporting the proposal, and the association has now sent a letter to other trade bodies asking for their support.

Callum Mackintosh, Vice President of the SPOA, said; ”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.”

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

In the next few months SPOA will engage with its members and stakeholders to agree how this change can be implemented as soon as is practical. The association encouraged equipment owners and operators to discuss the issues with their trade bodies and employers, or contact SPOA with comments or questions at: info@spoa.org.uk.

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