Why a 100% carded workforce isn’t always 100% right

Most people are familiar with the role the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) performs in improving standards and safety on construction sites. However, not everyone realises that people attending site to perform a non-construction related occupation should not be expected to carry a CSCS card.

CSCS is challenging construction sites to stop turning away non-construction related workers without CSCS cards, and this is why:

CSCS cards are intended for construction related occupations only. This is fully supported by the Construction Leadership Council’s (CLC) announcement that card schemes carrying the CSCS logo must only certify those occupations with nationally recognised construction related qualifications.

Due to the wide range of skills required on construction projects, there are times when a worker arrives on site to perform a non-construction related activity, for example catering staff, drivers delivering materials, cleaners or security guards. These individuals are not construction workers and CSCS has stopped issuing cards for these and over 60 other non-construction related occupations.

Despite this some construction sites still operate a 100% carded workforce policy. The policy is often reinforced in client’s prequalification documents or by head office insisting all workers and visitors to site should carry a CSCS card.

This rigid enforcement of a 100% carded workforce results in legitimate, non-construction related, workers being refused entry to site as they do not hold a card. This indicates a misunderstanding of the scheme and undermines the construction industry’s desire for a fully qualified (not carded) workforce.

The blind faith many employers place in a 100% carded workforce can introduce unnecessary safety risks on site. The cards are often being used simply as a means for the worker to gain access to site rather than been used to verify the card holder’s construction related qualifications. Sometimes cards are given no more than a quick visual glance, rather than a thorough inspection to ensure the card holder has the appropriate training and qualifications for the job they do on site.

The move away from a 100% carded workforce will see an increase in the numbers of individuals turning up to site without a card. However, we are not asking site managers to allow just anyone on site. If a worker is there to carry out a construction related activity then a card should be required as proof of their training and qualifications. If they are there to perform a non-construction related activity it then becomes the responsibility of site managers to induct and escort these people to ensure they remain safe at all times when on site.

The decision not to issue cards for non-construction related occupations is a significant change for the industry, but it has the potential to raise standards, improve safety and move us ever closer to what industry has long desired, a fully qualified workforce.

For a full list of occupations removed from CSCS click here.