How can I ensure the competence of my site-based workforce?

For basic construction trades, such as bricklayers, carpenters and painters and decorators, the achievement of a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) (or SVQ in Scotland) Level 2 qualification or higher will ensure a level of competence in line with the requirements of the Regulations.

The Construction Industry Training Board – Construction Skills (CITB – CS) Health and Safety Test, a computer-based multiple choice test for a basic level of health and safety knowledge, provides a good way of making sure new entrants have a threshold knowledge of health and safety. In other sectors, schemes such as the two-day Client / Contractor National Safety Group (CCNSG) course in the engineering construction sector provide an equivalent mechanism.

Possession of a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card does at least signify that the holder has passed the CS Health and Safety Test, or an equivalent basic test of health and safety awareness. However, employers need to be careful that the trade or work occupation on the card matches the work activity to be carried out, and that the actual level of qualification, experience and training of the individual is sufficient.

Where less experienced staff are engaged to carry out construction work, additional supervision must be provided to make sure adequate risk control is achieved.