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Do I need a high risk work licence?

Under the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012, you must not carry out specified classes of high risk work unless you hold the high risk work licence (HRW licence) for that class. There are 29 classes of high risk licences and more information can be found in types of high risk licence classes.

A HRW licence is recognised in all states and territories of Australia which enables the holder to perform high risk work under consistent standards.

The requirements to hold a HRW licence do not apply if you are currently:

  • in a course of training towards gaining a high risk licence, and
  • are under the direct supervision of a person who is licensed to carry out the high risk work.

This means you cannot perform high risk work unless you hold a HRW licence or you are formally enrolled with a registered training organisation (RTO) and undergoing supervised training towards gaining assessment.

The RTO will ensure that training is provided against the national unit of competency. When the RTO is satisfied you can meet the competency level for the training, an assessment is performed by an accredited assessor using a national assessment instrument.

When is a high risk work licence not required

A person who carries out high risk work involving plant is not required to be licensed if:

  • the work is carried out at a workplace solely for the purpose of the manufacture, testing, trialing, installation, commissioning, maintenance, servicing, repair, alteration, demolition or disposal of the plant at that workplace or moving the plant within the workplace (moving includes operating the plant to load it onto or unload it from a vehicle or equipment that will be used to move it) and
  • the plant is operated or used without a load except when standard weight loads with predetermined fixing points are used for calibration of the plant

A person who carries out work with a crane or hoist is not required to be licensed as a crane operator:

  • if the work is limited to setting up or dismantling the crane or hoist, and
  • if the person carrying out the work holds a licence in relation to rigging, which qualifies the person to carry out the work

A person who carries out high risk work with a boiler that is being used for a historical purpose or activity or ancillary to a historical activity is not required to be licensed as a boiler operator. Examples of historical activity given in the Work Health and Safety Regulations include a historical display, parade, demonstration or re-enactment. Activity ancillary to a historical activity include restoring, maintaining, modifying, servicing a boiler used or to be used for a historical activity.

Earthmoving equipment used as a crane

There are no HRW licences for persons who carry out work with front end loaders (LL), backhoes (LB), front end loaders of the skid steer types (LS) or excavators (LE).

However, the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must ensure that operators of earthmoving equipment receive specific training and instruction in using this type of equipment and also when used as a crane.

Operators must be adequately trained when operating earthmoving equipment as a crane. One way to achieve this is for the operator to do mobile crane training.

In all instances, the operator must have an understanding and knowledge of the mass of the load, capacity and restrictions of the earthmoving equipment being operated; and have access to the applicable load chart.

The person slinging the loads or directing the operator must at least hold a dogging HRW licence if they are required to exercise judgment about the mass of the load, the centre of gravity of the load, the selection of slings or sling attachment points, or if the load is partially or completely obscured from the operator’s view.

The person slinging the loads or directing the operator must at least hold a dogging HRW licence if they are required to exercise judgment about the mass of the load, the centre of gravity of the load, the selection of slings or sling attachment points, or if the load is partially or completely obscured
from the operator’s view.

Container side lifter

This includes mobile equipment featuring a boom or jib mounted on a vehicle without slewing capabilities used to lift and transport containers. You do not require a licence to operate a container side lifter.

Scissors hoist / Lift

You do not require a licence to operate a scissor hoist/lift, however operators must still be trained and instructed in the safe use of this plant.

Mobile stock picker

You do not require a licence to operate a mobile stock picker, however operators must still be trained and instructed in the safe use of this plant.

Multi tool carrier / Telehandler

A multi tool carrier (also known as a variable reach truck, multi-purpose tool carrier or telehandler) can be fitted with a range of attachments that include hydraulic winch, hoisting block and hook, bucket, jib, bucket with grab, grab, earthmoving blade, concrete skip, earthmoving hoe, forks, elevating work platform, tyre handler.

Typically, multi tool carriers are used to travel with their load. When the load is supported on forks, it should be lowered as close to the ground as possible and the boom retracted during travel.

However, when the load is freely suspended, it needs to be elevated to prevent it snagging on the ground or other obstacles. The stability of the multi tool carrier may adversely be affected as the load can swing and exert additional dynamic forces. When operating on sloping ground, the potential for instability is increased, as the load will swing further from the point where it is connected to the multi tool carrier.

Operators of multi tool carriers must hold an appropriate class of license for the work performed and attachments used in addition to the training requirements listed in the table listed below.

Table: Class of license for the work performed and attachments used
Attachment fitted Licence class
When multi tool carrier is non-slewing and fitted with a jib or used as a crane with a rated capacity of 3 tonnes or less No licence is required by the legislation.
When multi tool carrier is non-slewing and fitted with a jib or used as a crane with a rated capacity greater than 3 tonnes Operators must hold a non-slewing mobile crane licence (CN)
When slewing and fitted with a jib or used as a crane of any description Operators must hold a slewing mobile crane licence appropriate for the rated capacity (for example a C2 licence allows for a rated capacity up to 20 t)
When machine is fitted with forks and similar attachments No licence is required by the legislation
When machine is fitted with a loader bucket No licence is specified by legislation
When machine is fitted with a boom-type elevating work platform greater than 11 metres Operators must hold a boom-type elevating work platform licence (code WP)

What if a high risk work licence is not required

When a licence is not required, the PCBU must make sure operators have received adequate information, training, instruction and supervision to ensure they are competent and the equipment is used appropriately.

Operators must take reasonable care for their own health and safety, and must not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons. They must comply with codes of practice relevant to the item of plant and type of work they are doing, with any reasonable instruction, and co-operate with any reasonable policy or procedure for health and safety at the workplace.

PCBUs determining the competence of operators may rely on informal or formal training, or a combination of both.

  • Formal training includes completing a nationally recognised course delivered by an RTO for the specific type of plant
  • Informal training includes on-the-job training delivered or supervised by a competent person, or in-house job specific training that involves the equipment and hazards associated with the equipment

A person who is inexperienced should always operate equipment under the direct supervision of a competent person. To determine the level of supervision an operator requires, the PCBU should take into account their experience and competency, the risks associated with the tasks, and conditions on the worksite.

When determining an operator’s competency, a PCBU can use the following as evidence of competency:

  • statements of attainment in a nationally recognised unit of competency
  • records of training completed at an industry training school
  • records of on-job or in-house training and assessment
  • documented experience such as log books, work diaries, letters of reference
  • previous licence status
  • plant, task and site specific training records
  • documented skills maintenance activities

Contact an RTO to find out which units of competency are available for the particular equipment. Evidence of competency and training should be kept on file as a record.

Updated: 10th December 2019