The Construction Skills Certificate Scheme was introduced in the 1990s when there was a lot of cause for concern over the high numbers of serious accidents happening on building sites in the UK. Passing the CSCS test indicates that the holder of the card has an industry standard and a basic level of competence and knowledge of health and safety to enable him or her work on a building site and this standard is applied to all of the trades and workers in the construction industry.
The construction industry, more than most, has a varied and diverse range of skills and trades and the lack of uniformed standards involving health and safety were largely thought to have made direct contribution to the high numbers of accidents that were happening. The lack of a standard approach to health and safety meant that the bodies that oversaw the different trade disciplines placed different levels of priority on health and safety on building sites. The issue of health and safety had become too disorganised.
The CSCS introduced a benchmark across the industry that tested the competencies of the different trades to allow them be fully accessed and compared to other trades across the industry.
What does a CSCS card prove
Although it is not mandatory to be in the CSCS scheme, the vast majority of employers in the construction industry will not employ someone on their site without the CSCS card regardless of how well qualified or how experienced they are in their trade. As an accepted general rule of thumb, without the CSCS card, there will be no access to building sites.
The card proves the cardholder has the required skill and training for the type of work they are being employed to carry out. These fall into one of the these categories below. Please click on the links for full details.
How to get a CSCS card
To apply for a CSCS card, you must have the appropriate construction related qualifications and training. The various colour cards, above, indicate level of education and qualification required by the holders.
There are some exemptions to these qualification requirements. In the case of foreign educated workers, the CSCS scheme works with NARIC,(LINK) which is the agency in the United Kingdom that makes comparisons of international qualifications against those of the UK, to determine the level of attainment the UK recognises in these qualification.
Those applying for a CSCS card will have to hold the CITB card which requires them to pass a Health and Safety test. As described earlier, the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) Health, Safety and Environment test requires different levels for different occupations and you can find out which one you will need by accessing the online cardfinder. The cost of this test is £19.50
How to Apply for the CSCS card
Individuals can apply for the card on their own behalf or companies can apply for them. Take a look at this short video to see how it works “How to apply for a CSCS card”
The application will need to be supported by
- The relevant qualification attained to apply for the CSCS card sought. You will need to submit a scanned copy of the qualification to the CSCS. Look up the online cardfinder to identify the test you need to take.
- You will need to hold a certificate to prove you have passed the appropriate level of CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test also identified by access the cardfinder.
- Phone 0344 994 4777 where they can take payment for the test of £30. They will generally able to post out the card within a day or two. For full information access the CSCS website.
In conclusion, although it seems to be yet another layer of red tape to have to negotiate your way around, it is important to note that a more knowledgeable workforce on health and safety makes for better working conditions and put the safety of workers at the forefront of the minds of everyone connected with the industry.