The Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) was established to help the construction industry improve quality and reduce accidents. UCATT has been a longstanding supporter of the scheme, arguing that a fully carded workforce is a safer and better trained workforce. The goal of CSCS is to create a fully qualified workforce on a carded scheme.
CSCS applies across the whole of the UK, however it is called CSR (Construction Skills Register) in Northern Ireland. ConstructionSkills continues to administer the scheme under contract. The members of the CSCS board are from the UK Contractors Group, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, the Federation of Master Builders, the National Specialist Contractors Council, as well as GMB, UNITE and UCATT. Steve Murphy the General Secretary represents UCATT on the CSCS board.
CSCS is demanded as proof of competence by organisations from across the industry such as employers, clients and the Government. All sites registered under the Considerate Contractors Scheme are required to declare the percentage of workers who hold CSCS cards and to record details of site operatives’ and visitors' CSCS cards.
CSCS covers over 350 occupations so there is a specific card to suit most job roles in the construction industry. Deciding which one is the right card will depend on the type of work, experience and qualifications as well as membership of professional bodies.
Health and Safety test
To apply for a CSCS card a worker must demonstrate his or her occupational competence. In most cases, he or she must also have passed the scheme-specific Health and Safety and Environment Test (within the previous two years). The aim of the Health and Safety test is to examine knowledge across a wide range of health and safety topics in order to improve safety levels on site. It is usually taken as a computer-based touch screen test at either a mobile testing unit or an accredited test centre. The type of card being applied for will determine the level of test that needs to be taken. The cost of the health and safety test is £17.50.
The CSCS Card itself costs £30 including VAT. By mid March 2014 there were over 1.9m CSCS cardholders. CSCS cards are now issued as Smartcards with the older style cards now being phased out.
The Green card
CSCS have undertaken a major overhaul of their Green “labourers” card scheme. This card had been abused as an easy way to get onto site, as it did not require any additional qualifications.
Since July 2014 Green Cards will only be issued to labourers who undertake a new Level 1 qualification. Other trades should apply for the appropriate card for their occupation. The new Level 1 qualification for labourers will require them to undertake training on preventing accidents, safe manual handling, working at height, awareness of hazardous substances and safety when using and being in the area of equipment and plant. Those requiring more information about how to make sure that they are in receipt of, and how to access, the correct card should visit www.cscs.uk/cardfinder.
As UCATT supports the belief that all CSCS cardholders should be fully trained and safe at work the Union has welcomed the changes. UCATT also believes it will reduce the problem of employers signing workers up on less skilled cards in order to reduce their wages.
Our new guide seeks to assist UCATT members in lobbying to stop public contracts going to firms that have blacklisted workers and have not made up for it. Download the Blacklisting & Public Procurement Guide now.