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Why a 100% CSCS workforce undermines construction

Most people are familiar with the role the Construction Skills Certification Scheme performs in improving standards and safety on sites.

However, not everyone realises that people attending sites to perform non-construction-related occupations should not be expected to carry a CSCS card.

CSCS is challenging sites to stop turning away non-construction-related workers without CSCS cards – and here’s why.

CSCS cards are intended for construction-related occupations only. This is fully supported by the Construction Leadership Council’s announcement that card schemes carrying the CSCS logo must only certify those occupations with nationally recognised construction-related qualifications.

Wrongly refused

Due to the wide range of skills required on projects, there are times when a worker arrives on site to perform a non-construction activity, such as catering staff, drivers delivering materials, cleaners or security guards. These individuals are not construction workers and CSCS has stopped issuing cards for these and more than 60 other unrelated occupations.

Despite this, some sites still operate a 100 per cent carded workforce policy. The policy is often reinforced in client’s prequalification documents or by head offices insisting all workers and visitors should carry a CSCS card.

“The blind faith many employers place in a 100 per cent carded workforce can introduce unnecessary safety risks on site”

Such rigid enforcement results in legitimate non-construction workers being refused entry to site. This represents a misunderstanding of the scheme and undermines the industry’s desire for a fully qualified (not carded) workforce.

The blind faith many employers place in a 100 per cent carded workforce can introduce unnecessary safety risks on site. The cards are often being used simply as a means for the worker to gain access to site, rather than to verify the cardholder’s qualifications. Sometimes cards are given no more than a quick glance, rather than a thorough inspection to ensure the cardholder has the skills and training for the job they do on site.

Manager responsibility

The move away from a 100 per cent policy will see an increase in the numbers of individuals turning up to site without a card. However, we are not asking site managers to allow just anyone in.

If a worker is there to carry out a construction-related activity then a card should be required as proof of their training and qualifications. If they are there to perform a non-construction related activity it then becomes the responsibility of site managers to induct and escort these people to ensure they remain safe at all times when on site.

The decision not to issue cards for unrelated occupations is a significant change for the industry, but it has the potential to raise standards, improve safety and move us ever closer to what industry has long desired: a fully qualified workforce.

Graham Wren is chief executive of CSCS

Readers' comments (1)

  • Graham Wren needs to sort out the anomalies of his CSCS card system which claims that an individual holding a card has received "training" when for example a CPCS card where the CITB deregulated training for plant operators in 2008. Industry stakeholders should be awsre thst a red or blue CPCS card is no.guarantee that the holder has received any training.

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