Promoting skills training and risk-awareness in the construction industry
It’s long been acknowledged that effective employee training paves the way for more productive workplaces and better management of risk. This is particularly true in construction.
With more workplace fatalities occurring in the construction industry than any other worldwide, risk management and safety skills training has long been a major concern for construction companies and their workers.
Sites have always been full of safety hazards that can cause injuries, such as equipment, machinery, trucks and falling debris. New risks regularly present themselves in the form of new construction techniques, materials and equipment, which can all require specific training. An ageing workforce that can be more prone to work-related accidents and the increased need for temporary and short-term contractors on site can pose additional problems.
With 150,000 construction jobs set to be created over the next five years in the UK construction industry, training that includes appropriate risk management techniques and safety procedures clearly needs to be high on everyone’s agenda.
Construction Skills Certification Scheme
Established over 20 years ago, the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) maintains a record of individuals in construction trades or occupations who achieve, or can demonstrate that they have already achieved, an accredited qualification, and provides them with a means of identification in the form of a plastic photo identity card. What’s more, all applicants for new cards and renewals must take and pass an independent assessment test relating to health and safety issues.
CSCS said in a recent press release that it is aiming to ensure that the construction industry is 100 per cent qualified, rather than 100 per cent carded. With the help of the Construction Leadership Council, the CSCS will return the card scheme to its original objective – for everyone engaged in construction-related roles on any site to be appropriately qualified.
Cards confirm qualification
This move has come about because a card had, in many instances, come to be viewed simply as an entry pass onto a site, rather than as an important way of verifying the cardholder’s qualifications. The emphasis will in future be placed on a more thorough inspection of cards to ensure that the holder has the right qualifications for the role they are to undertake.
Holding a CSCS card isn’t a legislative requirement. It is up to the principal contractor or the client as to whether they require workers to hold a card before they are allowed on site. However, most major contractors and house builders are likely to require construction workers to prove they have undergone the right skills and safety training for the tasks they are to perform.
In a significant change of procedure, the CSCS has also decided that it will no longer issue cards for occupations that aren’t construction-related. This means that the onus will be on site managers to ensure these workers are made aware of safety procedures and remain safe while on site.
With the government having recently announced the launch of a £22m Construction Skills Fund, the goal of a higher-skilled workforce that’s better able to manage risk and stay safe at work is beginning to look more achievable.