If a change of career is the order of the day and you’re giving some serious thought to driving an HGV professionally, then a reasonable starting point may be driving a skip lorry. As an introduction to driving, it can provide one of the best educations.
Gaining your vocational license (HGV licence) and ensuring you have your Driver CPC is the start of the process and depending on the nature of the waste you are carrying will depend on any further qualifications or licenses required.
For example an ADR licence (vocational qualification to transport dangerous goods by road) would be required for the appropriate classes as some specialist waste carriers will remove and dispose of materials such as asbestos, waste oils, or chemicals all of which come with their own hazards.
However, when trained correctly this greatly reduces the risk of harm and may also include some onsite training to satisfy health and safety regulations and as you will be working mostly on your own it will give you the knowledge and confidence you need.
The job itself requires considerations of its own as it is a combination of on and off road with the possibilities of picking up screws, nails and other puncture fodder.
Also give consideration to the trucks suspension, as when off road on rough terrain with a loaded vehicle the suspension will suffer, so extra care must be given to daily walk round checks as the vehicle and its equipment need constant checking. This includes the hydraulics, the lifting equipment and chains.
Back to the education bit as first mentioned, we have all seen skips in gardens and alley-ways but you don’t give them much thought until it’s you that has to deliver it.
The HGV reversing exercise you did for your test will pale now but by the end of your first day you would have accomplished things previously considered impossible. The skills gained both in driving off road, in bad weather conditions and positioning the vehicle and the skip in areas with access problems, combined with the legalities of safe loading and gross and axel weight.
These are all the responsibility of the driver and play a constant and important part of your day. As does dealing with an unknown quantity, the problems of being over gross or axel weight are ever present, but gaining the knowledge on the lighter skips will put you in a good position to move on and up to tippers.
The benefits of skips and tippers are many and varied and most firms work fairly close to base so long journeys and navigation are not an issue, therefore your day is in many ways your own. The work itself is in essence aligned with the building industry so it’s early starts and early finishes.
Generally considered to be the step up from skips, is driving tippers although within the same industry the differences are immediately apparent from the size of vehicle to configuration but the safety issues are much the same.
You have the same walk round checks to perform but with larger hydraulic pipes and possibly many more wheels and tyres to consider. As the size of the vehicle grows, so does the responsibility.
The technical issues in safe tipping come with learning and experience but the main issue being delivering the load, knowing how the load itself behaves and making sure you are on firm level ground before tipping.
The importance of cleaning the body out is imperative as once you have a build up of wet or sticky material, you face problems such as turn over or contamination of products.
To say skips or tipping is a good education would in no way imply that is in anyway a lesser driving job than any other; on the contrary it has a variety of elements that are not present in any other, one example being some people drive off road for recreation, if you choose tipper driving as a career this is what you will be doing, the difference being you will be doing it in a loaded 34 tonne truck with a high Centre of gravity a skill not required in any other profession.
Tipper company’s are relied on by both small building firms to the largest construction sites affording the drivers the opportunity to work as part of a team on the biggest civil engineering and construction projects, making it one of the most interesting and rewarding of a drivers career.
This introduction to skip and tipper HGV driving was kindly provided by Andy Gibbs, owner of Specialized Logistics. Andy has many years experience driving tippers and skip vehicles and knows firsthand what it takes to do the job right.
If you considering a career as an HGV driver you must first learn before you can earn. Please use our HGV, Driver CPC and ADR training provider resource page to find your nearest five.
Posted on Monday, 2nd April 2012