Road Surfacing Operative

A Road Surfacing Operative (RSO) is critical to the country’s infrastructure. Multi-disciplines, RSO’s are responsible for surfacing, resurfacing, and improving vast areas of both the publicly and privately owned highway network; covering all roads from residential streets to motorways.

RSO’s work as part of a team, known as a gang, run by a foreman. Within the gang, RSO’s perform a multitude of tasks, including machine driver, plane operator, roller driver, and rake hand. Being a team player is essential, as if a safety-first attitude, so as no risk comes to themselves, those around them, or the environment.

Work is almost exclusively completed outdoors, and shift work is also common to help minimise disruption to the public.


15 months minimum.

Individuals without Level 1 in English and Maths will need to achieve this level and take the test for Level 2 English and Maths prior to taking the end-point assessment.

Upon completion, learners will be awarded their Road Surfacing Operative Level 2 certificate.

Course Breakdown

If you’d like a more detailed breakdown of the skills and knowledge you’ll gain over the course of the apprenticeship, just use the tabs below.

    • The various road surfacing techniques including the application and use of primers, epoxy or thermoplastic resins, bituminous emulsions, and various types of aggregate including their limitations and characteristics.
    • How to work in accordance with the National Highway Sector Schemes, Industry Codes of Practice, the New Roads & Street Works Act and other guidance relevant to the occupation.
    • Responsibilities under relevant legislation including the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Provision and Use of Workplace Equipment 1998 and Manual Handling Operations regulations 1992.
    • Risk assessments, method statements and other official guidance required in order to undertake work.
    • The structure of the highway, civil engineering methods including the principles of water drainage and construction technology.
    • Plant and machinery such as planers, floating screed pavers, rollers, chippers, loading shovels and large hydraulic breakers and their correct usage.
    • Powered units and tools such as disc cutters, breakers, floor-saws, compactor plates, self propelled rollers and hand tools and their correct usage.
    • Different road categories and types and construction materials appropriate to each together with relevant working methods.
    • Drawings, plans and specifications in order to identify what works are required.
    • Traffic management systems and how to work safely within them.
    • The principles of measurement and how to apply them.
    • Lay and compact road surfaces using all forms of asphalt and ancillary products such as bond coat and bituminous jointing compounds, in accordance with relevant specifications and industry best practise.
    • Prepare and operate large specialist resurfacing plant and machinery such as  planers to remove the existing surfacefloating screed pavers laying asphalt, rollers, chippers, loading shovels and large hydraulic breakers.
    • Prepare and operate powered units and tools  such as disc cutters, breakers, floor-saws and compactor plates.
    • Carry out the excavation (planing) and reinstatement of the highway, install street ironworks.
    • Identify, locate and excavate around underground services to avoid strikes and loss of service.
    • Apply appropriate health, safety,  environmental and ecological procedures when working on the roads, including the movement, storage, lifting and handling of resources.
    • Plan, undertake and inspect work safely, efficiently and productively.
    • Read, interpret and work to drawings, specifications and highways information.
    • Work safely within temporary traffic management (utilising sterile safety zones, traffic lights, signage, cones and barriers) as required by legislation and industry standards to protect all parties whilst works are undertaken.
    • Communicate effectively using oral and written communication methods.
    • Work effectively within a team environment, cooperating and supporting team members when required.
    • Use own time effectively in order to consistently complete work on time to agreed programmes.
    • Promote a positive safety culture in the working environment.
    • Be polite and courteous when dealing with colleagues, clients and the public.
    • Apply equality, diversity and inclusion in dealing with others.
    • Show a willingness to be adaptable, adjusting to changing work instructions.
    • Display the confidence to resist pressures to work following unsafe practices.
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