COVID 19 Guidelines for the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) training programme need to be clear to avoid ambiguity, while hotels interpretation of revised regulations and social distancing should consider training in a similar fashion to schools and colleges. Aidan Flynn, General Manager, FTA Ireland reports.
The annual Driver CPC training deadline is the 9 September each year. If we need reminding this training requires all HGV and PSV drivers who drive for ‘hire and reward’ to attend 1 day (7 hours) training each year. The Road Safety Authority is the competent authority for CPC training. Unlike most other certification including vehicles testing, the Road Safety Authority has not provided an advisory or dictate facilitating drivers to complete their annual training beyond this deadline date. In addition, this training must be conducted in training centres registered with the Road Safety Authority. These centres are predominantly located in hotels for the majority of registered training providers.
In recent days, the Irish Hotels Federation has issued guidance to their members, a section of which deals with meetings and events. In it is states that ‘Businesses must ensure that there should be a maximum of 6 people from no more than 3 households allowed at a table and the number of people allowed to gather at any one time is 6 people indoors’. This information has resulted in DCPC training being cancelled in well-meaning compliant hotels, as we await clarification from Government on the situation. There is no doubt that the amount of COVID-19 information coming at us every day is creating confusion. The well thought through re-opening the country phasing has been replaced by increased misunderstanding of what is allowed and not allowed. Like Hotels, we in the training and service industry are doing our level best to survive. Sticking to the public health advice is essential in putting our staff and delegates welfare first. However, we need a pragmatic approach that considers all scenarios. If schools and Colleges can return, why should there be restrictions on hotels to provide meeting rooms (used for training) where physical distancing is maintained. As per the Government guidelines and advise all Adult education is open https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/cf9b0d-new-public-health-measures-effective-now-to-prevent-further-spread-o/#education-and-childcare-measures and can take place once the return to work protocol measures are adhered to. 2m social distancing is also required. The information in relation to gatherings MUST be clarified to confirm that adult education and training (anywhere) once the protocols are adhered to can take place.
Currently the FTA Ireland is providing essential training to the road haulage and coach and bus sector. Where our centres are not available, we cannot do this training in unregistered hotels. In addition to requesting clarification from the Minister for Health, An Taoiseach and Department of Transport Tourism and Sport, we have also written to the Road Safety Authority requesting the following:
- Extend the 9 September 2020 deadline to facilitate drivers and employers complete their annual CPC training over an extended period to 31 December 2020.
- Allow training providers to temporarily deliver training in non-registered centres so long as they can demonstrate that their normal centres will not facilitate them and that the training will take place with max 11 people (restricted numbers to aid compliance with protocols) per class adhering to public health guidelines and 2m distancing rules.
- Provide clarification and guidance to all CPC training providers regarding the number of delegates allowed in training centres as a matter of urgency.
- Driver CPC inspectors must pre-notify training centres of their expected inspection times. This will allow providers to ensure that the inspectors can attend training in a same and socially distanced manner.