A construction plant operative works in the construction, infrastructure and built environment industry.
The broad purpose of the occupation is to check, prepare and operate a number of construction machines -known as plant -that are used onsite in the construction sector including on railways, demolition and utility works (water/gas/electricity supply).
The operative will work on construction and civil engineering sites and may work on infrastructure projects such as a new motorway or high-speed rail line, giving the operative the opportunity to be involved in high-profile national projects.
An employee in this occupation will be responsible for preparing, setting up and operating designated construction plant types, according to a site plan/method of work, and in most cases will be under direct and indirect supervision. However, in many cases they will be the lead operative working with supporting staff and the only worker who has full understanding of their machine's capabilities and limitations. Operating plant is a safety critical activity and means that the actions of the operative has a direct and significant consequence to the safety and welfare of others, including the general public, therefore a very high level of responsibility comes with the occupation.
Construction plant operatives will be required to travel to and from the site either on a daily or weekly basis and will work exclusively in an outdoor environment in all seasons and weathers, and at variable times which may include overnight, weekend and anti-social hours work to complete projects which have fixed completion timescales such as roadworks, rail maintenance etc.
They will work alongside other workers such a groundworkers who directly help the plant operator by, for example, providing signals and attaching and detaching ancillary equipment. The plant operative however remains in principle ultimately responsible for the execution and completion of the tasks they are undertaking.
In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with a wide range of different stakeholders clients, contractors/customers, members of the public, supervisors, other trades/occupations, supporting occupations (banksman, mechanics etc.),managers, suppliers, safety professionals, manufacturers and administration staff. This apprenticeship involves learning on four common types of construction plant -a 360-degree excavator, dumper/dump truck, ride-on roller and forklift. Each machine can carry out a number of different types of work, however the core role of each is:
•360-degree excavator -digs or shapes ground to, for example, form trenches for underground pipes, form earthwork embankments and will further load vehicles such as dumpers/dump trucks with earth that has been dug.
•Dumper/dump truck -loaded with earth from the excavator which is transported across a site and tips the earth from the machine to form stockpiles or tip into an open trench.
•Ride-on roller-rolls and compacts materials such as earth and tarmac for roads, paths etc. by being driven forward andbackwards on a defined pattern, which compacts the material according to a specification.
•Forklifts-picks up a range of construction materials (usually on pallets) using the forks of the machine and transports them around a site, placing their load at various locations, sometimes to heights of 17 metres or more
On this apprenticeship, the operative will further undertake a range of non-operational activities with each machine such as:
•Checking, maintaining and cleaning of their machine
•Learn to direct and guide other plant and vehicles; for example, directing the driver of a dump truck where to position themselves when being loaded by the excavator
•How to signal and marshal other plant and vehicles undertaking site deliveries,
•Carry out checks on the work they do
•Help load their plant onto or off a transporter when being delivered to another site.
The ability to operate a core range of plant onsite will enable apprentices to work across a number of projects and provide the basis of upgrading to more specialist plant such as graders, dozers, demolition plant etc.
On completion of the programme, apprentices can progress to becoming a lead operator, supervisor, site or plant manager, or even set up their own contracting company.