Operate vehicles in the Field

This unit of competency covers the skills and knowledge required to prepare and operate vehicles and related equipment to patrol pipelines or otherwise drive across a variety of terrains. This unit of competency applies to operators who are required to check their vehicle daily for damage, ensure fuels and lubricant levels are maintained, effect minor repairs, prepare and maintain field equipment, and communicate with their base station. In a typical scenario an operations technician patrols areas of pipeline or follows pipelines across a variety of terrains looking for problems which require maintenance or reporting, or drives to remote facilities. During the course of their work they must check the vehicle for mechanical soundness before leaving base, ensure it is securely and adequately packed, make certain their communications equipment and contact schedule are in order and generally be prepared for long periods off-road.
Generally, the operations technician would be part of a team during field trips, though they may be required to undertake limited trips. At all times they would be liaising and cooperating with their base station.
Operators must have the appropriate class of driver’s licence before taking charge of the vehicle.


Evidence required to demonstrate competence in this unit must be relevant to and satisfy the requirements of the elements and performance criteria, and include the ability to:

  • undertake checks and inspections to confirm vehicles, loads, ancillary equipment and supplies meet safety, maintenance and operability requirements
  • interpret topographical maps and access manuals
  • plan and prepare for journey including confirming route, gaining access/authorisations
  • operate communication and recovery equipment
  • apply vehicle recovery techniques
  • apply basic maintenance procedures
  • apply defensive driving techniques appropriate to all legal requirements and range of conditions, including:
  • four-wheel drive and conventional vehicles
  • night and day
  • on road and off road
  • changing terrain and conditions
  • wet and dry
  • recognise early warning signs of equipment/vehicles needing attention or with potential problems and take appropriate action
  • distinguish between causes of vehicle problems/alarms/fault indications, such as:
  • instrument failure/malfunction
  • electrical failure/malfunction
  • mechanical failure/malfunction
  • communicate with team and supervisors.


  • Evidence must be provided that demonstrates knowledge of:
  • local and company rules and regulations that apply to vehicles, loads and driving
  • routine problems, faults and their symptoms and the corrective action to be taken
  • organisation procedures, including those covering:
  • safety, emergency and hazard control
  • communications
  • use and maintenance of vehicles
  • search and rescue.


Competency must be achieved before performing this work unsupervised. Therefore, this unit will typically be assessed off the job. Where assessment is undertaken on the job, appropriate supervision and safety precautions must be provided.

  • The unit should be assessed holistically, and the judgement of competence based on a holistic assessment of the evidence.
  • The collection of performance evidence:
  • should provide evidence of the ability to perform over the range of situations which might be expected to be encountered including typical disruptions to normal, smooth work conditions
  • must include the driving and recovery of a suitable vehicle in an off-road environment and the use of other appropriate items of equipment requiring demonstration of operation and responding to problems
  • may use industry-based simulation particularly where safety, lack of opportunity or significant cost is an issue.
  • Off-the-job assessment must sufficiently reflect realistic operational workplace conditions that cover all aspects of workplace performance, including environment, task skills, task management skills, contingency management skills and job role environment skills.
  • Assessment in a simulated environment should use evidence collected from one or more of:
  • walk-throughs
  • demonstration of skills
  • industry-based case studies/scenarios
  • ‘what ifs’.
  • Knowledge evidence may be collected concurrently with performance evidence (provided a record is kept) or through an independent process, such as workbooks, written assessments or interviews (provided a record is kept).
  • Assessment processes and techniques must be appropriate to the language, literacy and numeracy requirements of the work being performed and the needs of the candidate.
  • Conditions for assessment must include access to all tools, equipment, materials and documentation required, including relevant workplace procedures, product and manufacturing specifications associated with this unit.
  • The regulatory framework will be reflected in workplace policies and procedures and is not required to be independently assessed.
  • Foundation skills are integral to competent performance of the unit and should not be assessed separately.
  • Assessors must satisfy the assessor competency requirements that are in place at the time of the assessment as set by the VET regulator.
  • In addition, the assessor or anyone acting in subject matter expert role in assessment must demonstrate both technical competency and currency. If the assessor cannot demonstrate technical competency and currency they must assess with a subject matter expert who does meet these requirements.
  • Technical competence can be demonstrated through one or more of:
  • relevant VET or other qualification/Statement of Attainment
  • appropriate workplace experience undertaking the type of work being assessed under routine and non-routine conditions
  • appropriate workplace experience supervising/evaluating the type of work being assessed under routine and non-routine conditions
  • Currency can be demonstrated through one or more of:
  • being currently employed undertaking the type of work being assessed
  • being employed by the organisation undertaking the type of work being assessed and having maintained currency in accordance with that organisation’s policies and procedures
  • having consulted/had contact with an organisation undertaking the type of work being assessed within the last twelve months, the consultation/contact being related to assessment
  • conducting on-the-job training/assessments of the type of work being assessed
  • being an active member of a relevant professional body and participating in activities relevant to the assessment of this type of work


This course is delivered over one 8-hour day. The course is run with a candidate to assessor ratio of 3-1. The course includes the following:


  • Two-hour PowerPoint presentation covering:
  • Defensive driving principles – night driving/animal management/wet roads
  • Fatigue management
  • Journey management – map reading
  • Vehicle prestart checks and fault finding
  • Vehicle safety systems
  • Vehicle loading
  • Cornering techniques
  • Four-wheel drive systems – Off road driving hazards and techniques
  • Vehicle recovery

This is followed by a one hour written exam on the theory content.


  • The practical element of this course includes the following:
  • Prestart checks/load security/fault repair
  • Wheel change
  • Trailer hitch/unhitch
  • Jump starting a vehicle
  • Driving on public roads
  • Driving on unsealed roads – emergency braking
  • Off road driving – use of high/low 4×4/hazard awareness
  • Vehicle recovery – snatch strap/winching