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The Real Deal with Licensing/ Credential Collection

So today before I got in my car I walked down to the police station and showed them my license. Then I walked back home and drove off in my car. Uh no…. I am assumed to be licensed until I am not.

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Why it is not reasonably practicable for an employer/ PCBU to be responsible for license collection and verification from contractors

Why it is not reasonably practicable for an employer/ PCBU to be responsible for license collection and verification from contractors

The belief that there is a legal requirement for a Principal Contractor to collect licenses and credentials from contractors is one big myth. To be clear contractors providing specialised services are the PCBU/ employer obligated to hold correct and current qualifications and licenses to undertake their work.

To say that somehow an employer/ PCBU who hires a contractor is responsible for ensuring contractors are licensed is just another silly myth perpetuated in the safety world. Here is why. I was sent a list of questions from a client recently asking for my thoughts on their collection of licenses. The list clearly demonstrates by the questions asked why it is not reasonably practicable for an employer/ PCBU to be responsible for license collection and verification from contractors.

  • As apprentices do not hold a trade license is there anything we should be capturing for them as the employee?
    No, you are not the employer, the contractor is the apprentice’s employer and they are required to ensure apprentices are supervised.
  • Is/what license is required to operate a scissor lift or cherry picker and is this dependent on height?
    None and no
  • If I hire a cherry picker or nifty lift I do not need to provide a license. In the case of an accident is the hire company liable?
    No licenses are required for scissor lifts. You are responsible for the safe use of the plant and to be competent to use it. The hirer may be liable if the plant supplied was not fit for purpose.
  • Is working at heights qualification mandatory for working on a cherry picker or scissor lift?
    There is no such thing as a working at heights qualification.
  • Subcontractors – for example: if an excavator is inducted under our plumbing company do they need to provide their license to us or just the company contracting him?
    The excavation contractor must make sure they are licensed.
  • At what height and what distance from the edge(?) is a height safety qualification and/or a harness needed?
    Again no such thing as a work at heights qualification
  • Hot works requirements?
    Again no licensing requirements for hot works.
  • What class of machinery requires additional licenses?
    Uh….. how do I answer this?


I know you may be rolling your eyes and thinking these are silly questions, but I get asked them all the time and in fact, it is quite reasonable that a person who does not work in or has limited expertise in a trade/ profession is not aware of what licenses are required (hence why it is not reasonably practicable to require a Principal Contractor to confirm technical licensing of independent contractors). The only exception is where there is an obligation directly placed on you to check licensing for example working with children checks/ vulnerable person/ police checks where a contractor is working directly with people in these classes. Or white cards in the construction industry.

If you want to go out and have a chat with a contractor and ask them if they need a license to do their work, and if the answer is yes do they have it on them fine, but I for one probably wouldn’t even know what I was looking for or at in relation to most contractor licensing.