Digger Training

Digger training in Essex with Industrial Training Services


A "digger" is term commonly used to describe either a 180 or 360 degree excavator.

These machines are well-suited to a construction environment; but have practical uses in other applications, such as in industry. Digger training should be taken by any person(s) looking to operate either a 180 degree or 360 excavator as part of their day-to-day work. Operatives using the machine only once on a private site, such as at home, should still seek adequate training for their own safety.

In construction, 180 excavators are becoming lesser used, in favour of 360 excavators - which are arguably more versatile. 180 excavators have also declined in use due to an increase in the use of Telescopic Handlers. However, 180 excavators are still useful pieces of plant machinery, and can be incredibly useful in a construction environment.

Whether you are looking to operate a 180 degree excavator or 360 degree excavator; you should have had a level of basic digger training before operating the machine. A level of basic 'in-house' digger training ensures a level of competence that makes the operative safe to operate the machine. Training also covers machine-specific legislation such as LOLER, PUWER and the Road Traffic Act.

This website is designed to give you an overview of the following:

  • Levels of digger training
  • Digger training accreditations available
  • Digger training course content
  • Legality of digger training

In addition to this - we will cover some of the frequently asked questions relating to digger training, and address the key information you need to know when considering taking a digger training course.

Digger Training

Whether you are operating a digger only once, or every day - you should have a level of adequate training. Industrial Training Services offer basic training courses on both types of digger (180/360 degree). Training durations do vary, and the normal course durations are:

  • Novice: 10 days
  • Semi-exp: 4-5 days
  • Refresher: 1 day

Typical Digger Training Course Content
  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • (PUWER) Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations
  • (LOLER) Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations
  • Different types of excavators
    • Basic construction
    • Components
    • The purpose and use of all controls
  • How to comply with manufacturer instructions in accordance with the operator’s handbook
  • Checking the 360 excavator is serviceable and stable for safe operation prior to use
  • Pre-start and operational checks
  • Checking safety devices are functioning as per operational specification
  • Operating and manoeuvring machine
  • Basic excavating
  • Backfilling
  • Change the buckets (quick hitch)
  • Levelling the excavated area
  • Bulk material movement
  • Excavating trenches
    • In a straight line
    • At 90°
    • Square excavations
    • Banks batters
  • Operating the excavator on slopes and uneven ground
  • Loading a vehicle from a stockpile and ground level
  • Recognising and responding to given instructions
  • Keeping within safe working parameters of the excavator and other machines in the area
  • Placing the 360 excavator in an out-of-service condition, to isolate and secure the machine
  • Limitations of use when using the 360 excavator

Find out more about basic digger training

Accredited Training

Once basic digger training has been completed; operatives are able to seek accreditation such as CPCS, NPORS or EUSR PLUS. Each of these schemes have their own merits (which are discussed later), but we generally suggest CPCS testing to our customers. CPCS is a very widely-recognised training scheme in the United Kingdom and offers improved employment prospects.

CPCS Categories

180 and 360 degree excavators are separate categories under CPCS. In addition to being different categories, they are also different categories based on machine weight. CPCS digger training/testing categories are as follows:

  • A10 = 180 excavator below 10T
  • A12 = 180 excavator above 10T
  • A58 = 360 excavator below 10T
  • A59 = 360 excavator above 10T
What is CPCS training?
CPCS training (Construction Plant Competency Scheme) is arguably the most widely accepted plant operator training in the United Kingdom. CPCS training and CPCS testing offer trainees better employment prospects due to their demand on major construction sites.

Getting a CPCS Card

CPCS Stage 1:

The first stage of CPCS is to gain a red trained operative card. The trained operative card is valid for 2 years and is accepted on the majority of construction sites that insist on CPCS qualification. This can be achieved by taking a digger training course and a CPCS theory and practical test.

CPCS theory tests are delivered much like a verbal interview; with a series of set questions asked by the examiner. These questions are available to view on our dedicated CPCS website. When the theory has been passed, the candidate had 6 months' to take their practical exam. Again, the test specifications are available to view on www.cpcs.training.

CPCS Stage 2:

Once you have your red trained operative card you can make a start on a Level 2 Plant Operations NVQ. Once you have completed the NVQ you are eligible for a blue experienced worker card. The blue CPCS card is valid for 5 years and shows that you've received sufficient digger training and have completed the respective NVQ for the digger(s) you are trained on.

To renew your blue CPCS card, you need to:

  • Take a health and safety touchscreen test
  • Complete an RT modular test
  • Have logged 300 hours using the machine

What if I haven't logged 300 hours?
If you haven't logged 300 hours - it's not a massive problem. You are able to take an on-site assessment which takes around 30 minutes to complete.

Pre-testing Requirements

Prior to taking a CPCS test; candidates must have completed a health and safety touchscreen test. This must have been completed within 2 years of taking the test. All parts of CPCS testing must be supported by a touchscreen test. Without the touchscreen test in place; the result of CPCS testing cannot be resulted and becomes void.

Where can I take a touchscreen test?
These tests are taken at your local DVLA test-centre. They cost £19.50+VAT and can be booked by calling 0344 994 4488.

See more about CPCS training


One of the main reasons that companies/individuals undertake a level of basic digger training is to conform with legislation such as PUWER. It is the responsibility of employers to provide sufficient training on any work equipment that an employee is to operate. Diggers training also covers the specific legislation related to the safe operation of excavators. Legislation such as:

Legislation Covered
  • Health and Safety At Work Act 1974
  • (PUWER) Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations
  • (LOLER) Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations
  • The Road Traffic Act

Alternatives to CPCS

CPCS digger training and CPCS testing is not always required, and is generally site-dependent. There are other options available, should CPCS not be required / necessary. Other digger training accreditations include:

Other Plant Accreditations
  • Lantra

It is important to stress that a basic level of digger training is better than nothing. If you are using a digger on a private site, for example, then you can probably get away with just taking an 'in-house' type digger training course. Industrial Training Services Ltd do offer CPCS novice courses which are accelerated learning courses to get a CPCS card. You can find when we are running our next 360 excavator CPCS novice course on our main website.

NPORS Training

NPORS is the most similar digger training accreditation to CPCS. NPORS is becoming more accepted on larger construction sites in the United Kingdom, and in some cases is actually preferred over CPCS. Digger training under NPORS is very similar to CPCS and covers the same content. You can find more information on NPORS at www.npors.training.

NPORS vs CPCS - which digger training and testing is better?
NPORS is becoming more accepted on UK construction sites. We, as a training provider, cannot make promises that NPORS will be suitable for you. You need to weigh up the pros and cons of both options. If you want to ensure access to large constructions sites then CPCS digger training will probably suit you better. If you want good, accredited plant training for a lesser cost - NPORS is probably for you.

See more on digger training on our website

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