City & Guilds have recently reviewed their LOLER qualification, to bring it up to date, reflecting changes to the HSE Approved Code Of Practice and publication of the Industry Code of Practice for Arboriculture (ICOP) as well as more closely match the supporting legislation around work at height. Here is a link to the new NPTC qualification guidance or NPTC schedule.
Over the summer 2016 City & Guilds advertised for potential LOLER assessors, this was due to a reduced number of then current assessors and the excessive travelling they were having to do to cover the unit nationally.
In late November the group of 10 assessors were selected from the 53 that applied on the basis of technical knowledge, geographical spread, interpersonal skills, on going CPD relevant and track record as good assessors.
We then met in Stoneigh Park for a standard setting event. In the first part of the event Chris Cooper Abbs outlined the historical development of the qualification, and the associated training, which has gradually lengthened from a one-day course to the current 3 days plus assessment. This is perhaps due to a mix of a widening array of equipment and to some extent a change in the mix of candidates coming forward for assessment.
Over the years the way the assessments have been organised has evolved with a reducing number of assessors, more standardisation and at one stage a box of kit sent out to assessment centers! This didn’t last long and for the past 7 years or so there has been an assessor present to introduce and invigilate and act in a similar way as an end user that was the idea in the FASTCo days. This format is to remain, albeit with a wider group of assessors.
Candidates have to sit a written paper (1.5 hours allowed) on the principles of LOLER and this question paper covers much of the underpinning knowledge required of a competent person, especially around the main LOLER requirements as well as the MHS@Work Regs, PUWER, PPE Regs. The Work at Height Regulations, Machinery Directive and ICOP and are all new additions to this schedule.
We have offered training courses and assessment in this unit for the last 10 years or so, and it has gone through various stages of development since it’s inception as a FASTCo course in the late 90s. Since becoming an assessment centre in 2015 we have organised the assessments as well. Chris showed the various centres nationally offering the qualification in a league table, we were pleased to see that SFTraining were at a reasonable 5th place out of 13 nationally.
LOLER is an often misunderstood regulation, and it is about more than sticking labels on bits of rope………it is also about the planning of lifting operations and is a useful course for those developing their arboricultural careers perhaps as managers. It also is supportive for those doing a rigging unit (CS41 but now called aerial tree rigging 309) and helps in the development of robust risk assessments for work at height. This background also helps inform us on the likely students for LOLER, and that they should have a reasonable level of industry knowledge of the various climbing systems and rigging kit and ideally its development over the past few years.
SFT LOLER courses cover the essential background legislation as well as the failure criteria for various items, and have had a consistently high success rate for students in what they often say is one of the harder assessments they undertake.