We say excavator operators should not need crane licences

Work Health and Safety

We have joined other industry groups to protest about an ill-advised new regulation that is adversely affecting contractors and workers.

Along with the Civil Contractors Federation WA, Construction Contractors Association of WA, Hire and Rental Industry Association, National Electrical Contractors Association WA Branch, and Urban Development Institute of Australia WA Division, we have called for the WA Government to pull back on a regulation that came into effect on 31 March.

The regulation is misguided because it requires the operator of an excavator being used to lift a suspended load to have a slewing mobile crane operator licence.

Our concerns were voiced in a joint media release that pulls no punches about the WA Government's lack of prior consultation with industry and why the new regulation is a mistake. We want the Government to put the regulation on hold and start a consultation process.

As our CEO Murray Thomas said in the media release, “Every extra day this pointless regulation is in place will mean more lost time and money for Western Australian businesses already struggling with escalating costs.”

The new regulation was introduced to improve workplace safety, which is a goal we fully support. However, it is counter-productive because the slewing mobile crane training course is not intended for any type of earthmoving equipment.

The facts that explain why this regulation is wrong

Effective March 31, 2022, Schedule 3 of WA’s new Work Health and Safety Regulations requires that earthmoving machinery used as a crane is to be regarded as a crane for the purposes of high risk work licensing.

This means that excavators are now regarded as slewing mobile cranes for operator licensing purposes. When any excavator or is used to lift and shift a suspended load of any size, the excavator operator must have the relevant slewing mobile crane licence.

The State Government consulted extensively with industry prior to the implementation of the new WHS Act and Regulations, however there was no consultation on this particular regulation. It is also out of step with the harmonised WHS legislation adopted in other states.

There is no transition period for this new regulation, despite transition periods being granted for other changes to high risk work licencing.

The slewing mobile crane training course, which is a prerequisite for licensing, specifies that it is not intended to train operators of “a front-end loader, a backhoe, an excavator, or any other earthmoving equipment when configured for crane operation”. This is because the training is aligned with the national harmonised WHS framework, which does not require earthmoving equipment operators to do crane operator training.

See the full text of the joint media release, Crane licences for excavator operators is not the answer, industry says.