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New OCA scheme from EMPI Awards

Steve Johnson of Johnston Quarry Group receiving the first OCA

Launch of new Occupational Competence Assessment for mobile and static plant operators

EMPI Awards have developed a comprehensive Occupational Competence Assessment (OCA) of skills, knowledge, experience and other qualities, based on the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for mobile and static plant operators.

Until now, the industry-recognized route to demonstrating competence has been a Plant Operator Card Scheme. EMPI Awards’ new OCA is an alternative assessment of competence, giving employers in the extractive and mineral processing industries a choice.


As it is the duty of the site operator/employer to ensure the competence of their employees, the EMPI Awards OCA is paid for by the site operator/employer and retained by them, rather than by the employee.

Due to the safety-specific nature of the extractive and minerals processing industry, EMPI Awards have written an assessment that is fully compliant and based on the NOS for mobile plant operations in the first instance (processing and road surfacing machinery will follow in due course).

The assessment is robust and holistic and includes an assessment of start-up operations and shutdown of specific plant types, whilst working safely and efficiently and having the proper regard for environmental considerations, relevant to the job function.

Assessing ‘other qualities’ allows operators to fully demonstrate their ability to contribute to a safe, effective and efficient workforce.

The OCA, which is renewed every three years available for most of the more commonly used plant and machinery categories, contains a system of grading, where an operator can be assessed with a ‘pass’ grade as competent but can also progress on to a Credit or Distinction grade following feedback from the OCA.

The OCA has been developed and is owned by EMPI Awards, an independent Awarding Organisation. Part of Philip Brain Associates Ltd, EMPI Awards are recognized and regulated by Ofqual and accepted by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) for End Point Assessment of Apprenticeships.

The OCA will be delivered by MinTrain, a wholly owned subsidiary of the MinExp, a consultancy business focusing primarily on the extractive and mineral processing industries.

Assessments can be conducted nationally and internationally at the employee’s place of work. EMPI Awards will issue a certificate of Assessment of Competence to the site operator/employer and the employee will receive a card confirming which equipment they have been assessed on and the grade of achievement.

The OCA has been field tested extensively during June and July 2020 and is now available.


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