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New qualification regime for construction site operatives

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As announced recently, despite the looming Brexit, it is business as usual for height access and fall arrest safety standards in the UK

The same cannot be said regarding the qualification requirements for construction site operatives!

Over recent years there have been increasing concerns as to whether individuals working on construction sites have the required training and qualifications for the type of work they carry out.

The existing Construction Related Occupation (CRO) card (in place since 2005) is operated by the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS). The CRO card programme has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. The introduction of the CRO ‘Labourer’ card in 2014 saw the number of cards being issued jump from around 3000 per month to over 12000 per month.

With cards being available to anyone passing the straightforward CITB Heath, Safety and Environment test online, questions have been raised as to whether the CRO cards effectively demonstrate that holders have the required training and qualification for the work they are carrying out.   The conclusion was that CRO cards do not meet this requirement.

The new system

With the CRO card recognised as no longer fit for purpose, the CSCS has consulted with industry to determine the best way to address this issue.

October 2015 saw the start of the introduction of new measures which are paving the way for the withdrawal of the CRO card. Now, in 2017 the impact is really starting to be felt.

No new CRO cards will be issued after 31st March 2017 and any cards issued since 1 October 2015 will expire on 30 September 2017 with no option to renew.

In future, every construction site operative will be required to have a card showing that they hold
a nationally recognised qualification and/or formally assessed experience and demonstrated
skills for the occupation being undertaken. Cards will be occupation-specific.

Potentially, there can be significant costs for anyone undertaking formal training and assessment. To address this, the National Apprentice Scheme, supported by the new apprenticeship levy on large firms, will offer training vouchers, but only for approved training programmes. While other programmes may be developed that meet the requirements of the new system, the costs of non-approved training and assessment must be borne 100% by the trainee and/or their employer. Clearly, training and assessment which attracts funding will be in demand!

The impact for Fall Arrest

The CRO card scheme covered 100s of construction site occupations for which there were no nationally recognised qualification – including fall arrest. With the new scheme, national qualifications or formally assessed skills capability are mandatory.

For Fall Arrest, there is currently only one recognised qualification:

The ProQual L2 NVQ Diploma in Accessing Operations and Rigging (Construction) Pathway 7 Fall Arrest.

Approved competency assessors are also the only people approved to undertake skills/competence assessment

This effectively means that any prospective new fall arrest operatives must enrol with an approved assessor. This will enable them to obtain “in training” CSCS card valid for 12 months. On successful completion of the NVQ operatives can apply for the full skilled labour card.

Without this card, operatives will not be able to work on fall arrest tasks.

Talk to Highwire

Since 2005, Highwire has been aware of the need for formal, nationally approved training and qualification standards in fall arrest.

Over the past 12 years, we have been working actively on the development of the training programme which is now the heart of the new ProQual L2 NVQ Diploma. This experience has put us in a unique position in our sector. HIGHWIRE OPERATIVES ARE ALREADY NVQ QUALIFIED AND ASSESSED.

Whether you are looking to ensure your project sites meet the new standards or that your operatives are fully prepared for the new regime, Highwire services and experience can prove invaluable. Please get in touch to discuss your requirements.

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