In this feature article, Caroline Raine discusses the implications of new people entering into the construction industry and considers associated construction training schemes and task specific training that should be undertaken.

Introduction

According to the CITB Construction Skills Network publication Blueprint for UK Construction 2014–2018, output in the construction industry is expected to grow by 2.2% annually over the next five years. This is encouraging news for the industry and indicates that the tough times may finally be coming to an end. At the very least, conditions are improving dramatically. The forecast growth rate is likely to vary across UKs regions, with the South West, Wales and East Anglia expecting the fastest growth, particularly compared to the East and West Midlands.

The impact on employment, as reflected in the Annual Recruitment Requirements (ARR) is clear to see with a year-on-year fall in the number of new recruits required by the construction industry. However, the good news is that than over the next five years it is predicted more than 182,000 construction jobs will be created. This is largely due to an annual demand for approximately 245,000 new build homes.

The Construction Skills Network is coordinated by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and with over 700 members, assists stakeholders in planning for future employment by paying close attention to skills and training requirements. The CITB believes that, to put the construction industry on the right track for the future, it is vital to identify where skills shortages lie and to understand the skills needs of the future.

Due to the anticipated growth in demand for new housing within the construction industry, recruitment is likely to be at its highest over the next few years. While this is an exciting prospect for the construction industry, it is also likely to mean that new, inexperienced workers will be recruited. Therefore, it is important for employers to be aware that those new to the industry will be very “fresh” and without the required knowledge or experience, will need additional supervision and training. Employers will not have to be mindful of the needs of younger workers new to the industry, but also older workers returning to the industry after a “break”. Both younger and older workers may require additional supervision and training in light of the industry changes, from learning new equipment to an understanding of the implications of new legislation.

Training that should be undertaken

All employees must be trained and be provided with the necessary information to satisfy health and safety regulations. This training must include site induction training, site rules, emergency procedures (what to do in the event of an emergency) and risks and precautions (information on risks identified in assessments, and the necessary precautions).

Passport Schemes

Only competent and appropriately qualified workers should be allowed to work on a construction site. One way of demonstrating competence is through so-called “passport” schemes. And many construction sites insist on workers having a valid passport qualification before they can even step foot on a construction site.

Workers sit a test, which once passed, entitles them to carry a card showing their identity and the level of qualification they have in a particular field. Participating contractors and the controllers of building sites are then expected to allow admittance to their sites to card-carrying workers.

The passport scheme gives assurance that workers are appropriately trained and competent in the job they are being employed to do, particularly in the area of health and safety.

The most well-known of the passport schemes currently in use in the UK is the one administered by the CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme). CITB also operate a range of other schemes, including the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) for plant operators. The Safety Passport Alliance (SPA) is another passport scheme. Many construction sites now insist on workers holding a valid CSCS card before they are given entry to work on the site and this now seems to be the preferred passport scheme.

CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme)

The CSCS offers a wide variety of skills cards:

  • Red card — six separate cards for trainees (craft and operative), experienced workers, experienced technician supervisor or manager, trainee (technical, supervisory and management), apprentice and provisional

  • Green card — labourer (the old green card was withdrawn in July 2014)

  • Blue card — skilled worker

  • Gold card — advanced craft/supervisory

  • Black card — manager (the old Platinum card was withdrawn in January 2010)

  • White card — professionally qualified persons, construction-related occupation (CRO)

  • Yellow card — escorted site visitors (no construction skill)

  • White/Grey card — construction-related occupations.

Specific Training

In addition to ensuring that employees have basic health and safety training and the required card for access to the construction site, it is equally as important to consider job specific training.

Amalgamated or affiliated schemes exist for specialist occupations. These schemes require evidence of appropriate vocational qualifications plus a health and safety test, as follows:

  • Asbestos Control Abatement Division (ACAD)

  • Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA)

  • Association of Industrial Truck Trainers (AITT)

  • BT/IOSH

  • Building Engineering Services (BES)

  • Certificate of Competence of Demolition Operatives (CCDO)

  • Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme (CISRS)

  • Construction Plant Certification Scheme (CPCS)

  • Engineering and Marine Training Authority (EMTA)

  • SKILLcard

  • Fall Arrest Safety Equipment Training (FASET)

  • Fall Arrest Safety Equipment Training (FASET)

  • Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA)

  • International Powered Access Federation (IPAF)

  • JIB Electrotechnical Certification (JIB)

  • JIB Plumbers, Mechanical Engineering Services (PMES)

  • Network Rail Sentinel Track Safety Card

  • Network Rail Sentinel Track Safety Card

  • Northern Ireland Construction Skills Register (NICSR)

  • Northern Ireland Construction Skills Register (NICSR)

  • Scottish and Northern Ireland Joint Industry Board (SNIJIB)

  • Scottish Construction Registration Executive (SCORE)

  • Shopfitting and Interior Contracting Competence Scheme (SICCS).

Scaffolding

Before an employee can work on scaffolding they must be competent and have received training appropriate to the type of scaffolding they are working on. Scaffolding must only be erected, altered and dismantled of. All scaffolding structures (basic or complex) should be done under the direct supervision of a competent person.

Confined space

Before work is undertaken in confined spaces, employees must be suitably trained. Employees should be aware of the Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 and be able to identify risks and how to control them when working in confined spaces.

The risk assessment and safe systems of work along with the use of permit to work control measures should be covered. In addition, hazardous atmospheres and gas monitoring, personal protective equipment and emergency procedures must all be addressed.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)

Employees must be provided with suitable and sufficient information, instruction, training and supervision.

Details should be provided of hazardous substances that they may be exposed to. Information should include the names of the substances and the risks they may pose, workplace exposure limits and additional sources of information, for example the Safety Data Sheet. Training should be provided on the risk assessments and its findings along with any controls that must be implemented. Exposure monitoring and medical surveillance must also be undertaken, and the results shared with employees.

Training requirements

Specific training that must be undertaken before dealing with specific tasks and equipment on a construction site; a few have been outlined in minor detail above — however, of course, there are many other areas that must be considered — for example, banksman training, manual handling and fork-lift driver training.

So it is important, when considering recruiting new and returning employees into the construction industry, to consider training requirements and to plan these accordingly. What will your employees be doing and where will they be working? What are the site requirements and what are your legal obligations with respect to specific tasks?

Not only is training a legal requirement, but it also helps mitigate the risks of an accident or incident, thus saving lives and protecting the business.

Last reviewed 21 January 2015