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Do You Need A Licence To Operate An Excavator?

Do You Need A Licence To Operate An Excavator?

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Are you curious about hiring an excavator and want to know if a license is needed to operate one? Perhaps you have been offered a job using an excavator and want to know what licence you will need? Or are you curious and want to know more? Finding out whether a licence is necessary can be tricky, but it doesn’t need to be.

Today, we have the answers for you. Keep reading to find out if a license is needed to operate an excavator and everything else you need to know about operating one.

What Is An Excavator?

An excavator is a large machine that digs holes in the ground. A large bucket scoops up dirt and rocks, transporting them to another location or for disposal. Excavators are typically used for construction projects, like mining, digging trenches, or demolition. An excavator looks similar to a small digger, and you will normally find them on construction sites where the ground needs to be dug for levelling or to lay property foundations.

Do You Need A Licence To Operate An Excavator?

The short answer is no; you do not need a licence to operate an excavator. But that doesn’t mean anyone can use one! How you can operate an excavator depends on whether you are using one commercially or non-commercially. To be hired as an excavator by a contracting company, you might need to jump through some hoops. However, when hiring an excavator to work on your property, fewer restrictions exist.

Let’s look closer at both scenarios now so you know what is needed.

Operating An Excavator Commercially

Although specific licences are not required for excavation work, you must prove you are competent to be hired as an excavator operator. This is so the business can comply with the Workplace Health and Safety Act of 2011, which states that the site manager or business owners are responsible for excavator licensing. This means that the requirements can vary slightly depending on the site manager and how strictly they are following safety procedures.

Every job site has its way of assessing your competence, so it’s worth checking when applying for these roles. However, they will usually ask for similar things, such as:

  • A record of working and operating heavy machinery
  • A previous excavator licence or ticket
  • A record of excavator training (typically a nationally recognised statement of attainment less than two years old)

You might be asked for one, all, or a mixture of these things and should provide physical proof. Don’t panic if you have not had any excavator training or experience. You can access training to gain a certification from a nationally recognised training organisation, RTO.

These are typically done in person, where you will be shown how to use an excavator and all the safety procedures you must follow. You will often be required to pay for the training yourself, but some businesses will pay part or all of your costs.

It’s worth noting that you might still require a high-risk work licence, HRWL. This will cover certain activities like cranes and hoists, steam turbines, forklifts, scaffolding, dogging, and rigging. When applying for the excavator role, check if these activities will fall under your responsibility so that you can obtain an HRWL before employment begins.

Operating An Excavator Non Commercially

There are fewer regulations in place for using an excavator non-commercially. You will not need any certification or licence when using an excavator on private property, like your land. This applies to any DIY projects using standard or mini excavators.

When you hire your excavator, the supplier will check whether you have used one before and provide all the necessary information. They will likely show you how to use the excavator and explain the safety procedures that must be followed. They might also provide you with video tutorials or a user manual showing you how to operate the excavator.

While you can use the excavator on your property without a licence, if you hire someone to complete the work for you, they need to provide you with proof they have had experience or training to use the excavator. You should ask for evidence of this experience, like previous employment or any training courses they have completed.

Final Thoughts

While you don’t need a licence to operate an excavator, you must show proof of experience or training when seeking employment. Training courses are available to provide this experience if you have never had employment before, which is only necessary for the commercial use of an excavator.


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