Whenever we supply workers to a building site or construction project we make sure that they are properly trained and vetted. We do this to make sure our clients get good quality people and that these people are going to be safe on site.
An important part of our training and vetting process is making sure everyone we deal with holds a valid CSCS card. In cases where we deal with workers from overseas we often help them to organise the training and get the card.
What is a CSCS card?
CSCS stands for Construction Skills Certification Scheme. It is a scheme run by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to improve the levels of safety and training on UK building sites. Everyone who is issued with a CSCS card has to pass set health and safety tests and show their current level of training in their particular trade. The cards therefore act as a guarantee that the person turning up on site knows how to work safely and that they have the skills needed to complete their job. There are different levels of cards depending on the level of skill trades people have.
Green – these cards are for general building labourers who have passed a health and safety test.
Red – generally used for trainees and apprentices. These cards show the holder has passed the health and safety tests and that they are working towards qualification in their trade.
Blue – these cards are for workers who have a City & Guilds Craft certificate or NVQ/SVQ L2 qualification in addition to health and safety training
Gold – generally used for supervisors and highly skilled craftsmen. As well as the health and safety training gold card holders need a City & Guilds Indentured Advanced Craft certificate or a level 3 NVQ/SVQ
Black – these cards are for site managers who need to hold a level 4 NVQ/SVQ and to have passed the more advanced health and safety tests
Silver – these cards are for people in “construction related occupations” and who need to visit sites. This can be anything from cleaners and security guards to surveyors and architects
To work out what type of card you need you can use the card finder on the official CSCS website.
What do I need to do to get a CSCS card?
Exactly what you will need to do to get the card will depend on the type of card you want. However for all of the cards you will need to pass the Health, Safety and Environment test. There are variations on this test for different types of workers. The main ones being Operative, Labourer, Specialist, or Managers and Professional. There are also specific tests for people working at height or those doing plumbing and gas work. If you aren’t sure which type of health and safety test to take then the card finder will tell you.
You can do the tests direct through the CITB but we tend to use the Construction Support Line as they offer more in the way of training materials. They will also do useful things like remind you when you need to renew your tests and their support is pretty good. They can also help to advise you on what card and tests you need and generally smooth out the process for you.
Once the tests are passed you need to pay for your card (again either direct with CITB or through Construction Support Line) and provide details of any qualifications you have if you are applying for one of the higher level cards. You will then get your card sent out to you in the post. Generally the whole process takes around 3 to 4 weeks.
CSCS cards for foreign workers
We often help foreign builders to find work in London and to gain their CSCS cards. For those people where their English isn’t particularly strong it is possible to do some of the health and safety tests in their native language. The Operative level health and safety test can be done with the questions read out in 12 different languages including Polish, Romanian, Spanish and Punjabi. It is also possible to use construction qualifications from abroad in order to gain the higher level cards as long as they are judged to be equivalent to the relevant NVQ level. Whether or not a foreign qualification can be used is judged by a government agency called NARIC. You can find out whether you qualification is valid through the NARIC website.
Working without a CSCS card
We don’t supply any workers who don’t hold a CSCS card and most building sites won’t accept people who don’t have them. It is currently reckoned that around 80% of UK building sites insist that you have a card but on big construction projects it is very hard to get onsite without one.
Having the card means that you are safe to work on a site and know your trade. So most other people on the site aren’t going to want to work with you if you don’t have one.