All About NPORS Training Courses

NPORS is the National Plant Operators Registration Scheme dedicated to ensuring standards in the construction industry through regulated training and continuous improvement.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recognise NPORS as a competent organisation to accredit and monitor organisations to train instructors and/or to train, test and certificate operators.

The major advantage and aim of NPORS training courses is to offer employers flexibility in developing a properly trained construction workforce. These courses are designed to work for different individuals at different levels of experience.

Similar to Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS), NPORS also runs a card scheme, and many employers in the construction industry recognise it as an equivalent to CPCS qualifications. It is accepted by United Kingdom Contractors Group (UKCG).

NPORS was formed in 1992 and is recognised by HSE since 1999.

On-site Training

One of the major benefits of NPORS training is that employers can arrange training to take place on-site.

This makes it adaptable to particular needs and working environments. It is beneficial to candidates undergoing training, if they are already familiar with the environment in which they will be learning new practical skills.

It also means NPORS training courses don’t have to take place only at accredited training centres.

There are also other ways in which NPORS training courses are flexible.

Flexibility of Course Content

The flexibility of the NPORS card scheme allows candidates to train very specifically for using plant machinery.

For example, only using a telehandler with a bucket attachment, with a card qualification that states this.

Or restricting the cardholder to only working on commercial sites.

This means employers can train candidates for specific roles within overall plant categories, without going to the time, and expense, of training them for skills they will not use or need.

Broader Variety of Courses

NPORS offers a broader variety of courses, and this really differentiates it from equivalent schemes.

Alongside more standard, and expected, categories, such as excavators, dumpers and rollers, including:

  • Slinging and Lifting with Excavator
  • Cable Avoidance Tool (CAT and Genny)
  • Vehicle Banksman (Traffic Marshall)
  • Quick Hitch (Safety or Awareness)
  • Abrasive Wheels, etc.

Different Experience Levels for Training

NPORS training courses are available for both novices and more experienced candidates.

Their flexibility also means that course providers can tailor them to suit semi-experienced operators who want to use a category of machinery in a different capacity.

NPORS can apply to a range of industry sectors, not just construction, so this course adaptability can be especially useful for candidates experienced in one sector but wishing to move to another.

NPORS Card Types

  • NPORS Traditional Card – this card is the original style of card, first introduced in 1992. It is recognised for use by private contractors and with a wide range of employers. It does not include a CSCS logo, so you cannot use it for a CSCS-approved plant operator job. To gain the traditional card, you do not have to complete the CITB Health, Safety and Environment test. It is renewable after five years.
  • NPORS Trained Operator Card – carrying the CSCS logo, this card shows that your qualification is recognised by CSCS and to get it you must first complete the CITB Health, Safety and Environment test successfully. To apply for the Trained Operator card, you must take theory and practical tests. The card is valid for two years.
  • NPORS Competent Operator Card – you can apply for this card if you complete a Level 2 NVQ in Plant Operations. You can also upgrade from a Trained Operator card, if you take the NVQ. You must also have passed the CITB Health, Safety and Environment test. It last five years and can be renewed via NPORS renewal form and log book.

How NPORS Works

You take a theory and practical test on the plant machinery you have trained with. Once you pass both these tests successfully, you will receive an NPORS Trained Operator card, which is similar to the Red CPCS card.

This Trained Operator card is valid for two years, and you can upgrade it to a Blue Competent Operator Card.

To hold a blue competence card, you must complete a NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Plant Operations.

Gaining the NVQ involves an on-site assessment to see if you are competent on the machinery.

Experienced Worker Tests (EWT)

An alternative way of an employer helping an experienced operator to gain an NPORS qualification is through an Experienced Worker Test.

To do this, the candidate must have at least two years’ previous experience.

Training can take place at a testing centre or on-site, providing the employer can meet the NPORS specification for the chosen plant training category. The employer must have the correct plant and equipment on site for an EWT.

Renewing an NPORS Card

NPORS cards require renewal after their expiry date. The Competent Operator card lasts for five years.

An operator who is an NPORS cardholder can renew their card in two different ways:

  • Their employer signs a renewal notification form, verifying that the operator has a good standard within their category and is accident-free, or
  • The operator takes refresher training for the relevant category. This will help ensure they continue to meet the required standard for the plant machinery they are operating.

Note: you cannot renew a two-year Trained Operator card. During the two years, you should work towards gaining the necessary NVQ qualification to upgrade it to a Competent Operator card.

The National Plant Operators Registration Scheme is now one of the UK’s leading Accreditation and Registration Bodies, working across the Construction, Industrial, Utilities, Warehousing and Distribution, Agricultural, Ports and Marine sectors. NPORS training offers flexibility, whilst maintaining standards, both nationally and internationally by working with industry and Accredited Training Providers. 

Author Bio: Neil Beaumont is the director of SB Skills Solutions Ltd, an accredited construction training provider in the UK providing CPCS and NPORS training solutions to employers and plant operators.