NTDA: accreditation scheme widening to include other tyre segments

Since the launch of the Roadside Emergency Action Concerning Technicians (REACT) scheme in 2011 more than 4000 commercial tyre technicians have registered with the NTDA been trained, assessed as competent and issued with a Licence to Work Safely at the Roadside across the UK and, more recently, the Republic of Ireland.

Since 1930, the NTDA has campaigned not only for improved consumer tyre safety, but also for the safety of those individuals employed to fit tyres, especially those brave and hardworking commercial tyre technicians deployed at the roadside to work on HGV and PSV related tyre incidents in often very precarious conditions.

Sadly up until 2007 news reports of tyre technicians being injured and killed at the roadside were an all too frequent occurrence. Many people will recall the death of Gavin Sutherland (a 40-year-old tyre technician) in 2007. Sutherland died when a lorry crashed into the back of his van on the A9 eight miles south of Inverness, tragically he was one of many who lost their life during a dark period between 1996 and 2007.

That’s why in 2011 the NTDA created the REACT steering group to formalise much of the activity that was already being undertaken to ensure tyre technicians working at the roadside were better trained and assessed as competent to work safely.

The steering group is currently chaired by Phil Thirsk, technical training manager for Bridgestone UK Limited. Other members include: ATS Euromaster, Continental, Goodyear Dunlop, Kwik-Fit, Lodge Tyre Company, Michelin, PFTP Ltd and Roadside Safety Ltd. Currently 230 companies participate in the scheme and there have been no tyre technician fatalities or injuries at the roadside since 2011.

Steering group chairman Phil Thirsk has very clear views on the need for REACT: “Replacing commercial tyres at the roadside is a unique service that our industry provides and it does it very well,  but clearly it comes with its own very unique hazards too. Employers in the tyre retail sector are investing heavily in REACT training to provide their technicians with the best opportunities. More and more fleet operators today also require the technicians working on their vehicles to have a solid understanding of health and safety procedure and to be equipped with the ability to practically apply their knowledge.”

REACT expands scope and scale

As a result of the success of the REACT licensing scheme, the changes to the apprenticeship framework, injuries, including fatal injuries to technicians in tyre depots, the growth of unregulated part worn tyre retailers and the general interest expressed by NTDA tyre retailers to have a standardised licensing scheme for retail depot based personnel, it was agreed that the REACT steering group would meet to draw up a minimum training and assessment framework for other areas too.

The training professionals unanimously agreed the following structure:

  • Licensed Retail Tyre Technician (LRTT)
  • Licensed Vehicle Service Technician (LVST)
  • Licensed Consumer Tyre Technician (LCTT)

Although LCTT is not a retail depot-based licence, the steering group unanimously agreed the need for this progression route. This does not replace the REACT Licence to Work Safely at the Roadside scheme, which will remain unchanged, as it relates to roadside safe working rather than to specific commercial tyre fitting competencies.

LRTT covers fitting, repair, balancing, four-wheel alignment, TPMS as well as manual handling and safe working practices. Meanwhile LVST covers customer liaison, vehicle inspection and appraisal, battery and related components, exhaust systems, braking systems and computer-based testing equipment.

LCTT is split into five categories: truck, specialist and multi-wheel, agricultural, earthmover and industrial. According to the NTDA, LCTT licences will be issued showing the categories in which an individual has been assessed as a competent practitioner and in which they have demonstrated the relevant working knowledge. Specialist training courses exist and are provided by a number of REACT training centres.

Further details are expected on 12 October 2017 at the NTDA Tyre Industry Conference in Milton Keynes where the NTDA’s Licensed Professional Development Scheme for Tyre Technicians will be officially launched. What is clear is that what began and has clearly succeeded as a roadside tyre technician safety scheme has now branched out into a much broader professional development platform.

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