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How to become a Construction Plant Operator

construction plant operator careers

What does a Construction Plant Operator do?

Plant operators work with machinery used on construction sites and roadworks. Machinery includes 360 degree excavators, bulldozers and dumper trucks for moving earth; static tower cranes, mobile and rough terrain cranes for lifting and moving materials; and compactors such as rollers and small machines known as whacker plates used for flattening out work areas. Operators also use fork lifts and telescopic handlers to move or load building materials.

In addition to driving and operating plant machinery, operators change buckets and other attachments, maintain equipment and carry out daily safety checks.

A banksman/woman may work with the operator at ground level, checking the position and depth of an excavation, or directing the operator by signals or radio when visibility is restricted.

What's the working environment like working as a Construction Plant Operator?

Plant operators usually work a 39-hour week, but working hours vary in order to meet deadlines. Unsocial hours are common.

Construction plant operators work outdoors in all weathers. Conditions can be noisy, dirty and dusty. Some machines may be open to the weather while others have heated cabs. Certain jobs involve working at heights.

Protective clothing including safety helmets, ear defenders and goggles are worn. Travel to sites is required and this may be local or further afield. Depending on the contract, there may be periods spent away from home. A full driving licence is often preferred.

What does it take to become a Construction Plant Operator?

To be a construction plant operator you should:

  • have a basic knowledge of vehicle mechanics
  • have good eyesight, hearing and be able to concentrate
  • have practical ability and be able to follow detailed instructions
  • be physically fit and agile for changing attachments and climbing in and out of cabs
  • have good communication skills
  • be able to follow safe working practices
  • be able to work well as part of a team
  • be comfortable working at heights for some jobs.

Construction Plant Operator Career Opportunities

Plant operators are employed by building or civil engineering contractors, local authorities and other public organisations, and plant hire companies. It may be possible to work abroad on contract or to progress to supervisory positions and construction site management.

Plant operators may also move into specialised areas of work such as estimating, or become plant coordinators, selecting the machinery needed for each new project and evaluating new machinery. Plant sales are another area open to those with in-depth knowledge of the machinery. Self-employment is common, either as an owner-operator or on a labour-only basis for a contractor.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Construction Plant Operator that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

CITB-ConstructionSkills
Bircham Newton
King's Lynn
Norfolk
PE31 6RH
Tel: 01485 577577
www.citb.org.uk

Construction Plant Hire Association
27/28 Newbury Street
London
EC1A 7HU
Tel: 020 7796 3366
www.cpa.uk.net

Equal Opportunities Commission
www.knowyourplace.org.uk