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Construction News: CSCS Smart Check app keeps watch over skills

Published: April 20, 2022

This article first featured in Construction News.

Despite huge advances in the technology used to deliver construction projects in recent years, little has altered in the way that skills are checked and verified. When workers arrive on site, the process for checking everyone has the right qualifications, skills and experience for the job is often rooted in the past.

But that is about to change with the launch of the CSCS Smart Check app, which will allow gate staff to verify qualifications quickly using a smartphone or tablet.

“The industry has long been keen to move away from visual inspections of bits of plastic,” says Andy Reakes, head of growth at the Joint Industry Board & Electrotechnical Certification Scheme.

“Relying solely on visual inspections of cards displaying the CSCS logo means these processes are more open to fraud, important details such as the validity and expiry date of cards are being missed, and the cardholder’s latest training records are not available to view.

“It is vital that the industry has a quick and effective system to ensure people have the right qualifications, skills and experience for their role,” he adds.

“It saves time on site as people don’t have to visit different websites, call up contact centres and go through a number of checking processes.”

Reakes chaired the working group that developed the Smart Check app, which launched on 1 April. It reads in real time the data behind all card types provided by the 38 schemes using the CSCS logo.

People at the gate can easily verify that someone is who they say they are, that they have a valid card that is in date, and that they have the appropriate training and qualifications for the job.

The app covers more than two million current cards, allowing verification by contactless tap, scanning a card’s QR code or by manual input of card details.

“The app will primarily tell you if the card is valid or not,” says Reakes. “It saves time on site as people don’t have to visit different websites, call up contact centres and go through a number of checking processes.”

Improving safety

As well as improving efficiencies on site, the app aims to improve building safety and drive up standards.

“It is about the lifecycle of a project,” Reakes explains. “From planning to demolition to handover, you should have qualified and competent people at each stage, and it should be as simple as possible to check that is the case. Employers should have confidence that their workforce, and those of subcontractors, are meeting the necessary standards.”

While about 80 per cent of CSCS cards will be readable from day one, the remainder will be added over the following weeks, along with updates and improved functionality. For now, the task is raising awareness of the app.

“It is the biggest change for site entry processes since the introduction of CSCS more than 20 years ago. It will start to improve the image of safety, and promote the need for a trained and fully qualified workforce.”

The app is free to download and works with Apple iOS or Android devices. At launch it functions as a standalone application. Existing site entry systems such as turnstiles can continue if required, as the project team works to make them compatible with the new app.

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