Top marks

By Euan Youdale08 May 2008

It's certainly good news that, over the past fifteen years, there has been a decline in the number of accidents in the construction sector – thanks, in part, to a concerted effort from industry bodies and employers that have made a step change in their attitudes and priorities.

However, with the construction sector still losing 2.8 million working days due to injury andillhealth each year, we can't rest on our laurels. It is essential for the industry to treat training as an ongoing process, and to keep that process as a top priority if we are to see serious reductions in accidents.

Not only does health and safety training protect the lives and wellbeing of workers, it also helps a business run more smoothly with fewer sick days taken and fewer errors made by workers. Furthermore, the 2007 changes to the Construction (Design and Management) (CDM) regulations place responsibility on companies to ensure that contractors are competent.

Therefore, the CDM regulations provide businesses working in the construction sector with yet another reason to maintain a good reputation for health and safety, as companies will need to prove that they are taking health and safety seriously in order to win contracts. An effective way of demonstrating to clients that health and safety is a priority is to invest in appropriate and recognised training for employees, such as one of the range of courses offered by ConstructionSkills under our respected Site Safety Plus (SSP) programme.

One of the longest standing and most respected of these courses is the Site Manager Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS), which is highlighted as evidence of competence in the Health and Safety Executive's approved code of practice for CDM. Because of its twenty-eight year success, we have been able to use the SMSTS as a template for the recent development and launch of the Plant Manager Safety Training Scheme (PMSTS).

This new five-day course is relevant to all plant managers, plant instructors, plant inspectors, workshop managers and project managers. It covers all the relevant legislation and best practice which affects safe working in the construction plant, civil engineering and building industries.

Despite realising its importance, many businesses find it hard to deliver health and safety training due to limited funds and resources. ConstructionSkills has consistently tried to make health and safety training accessible to as many people as possible within the sector. Through the SSP scheme we provided training to around 20,000 construction workers in 2007 and the National Construction College (NCC), our direct training division, is the largest single health and safety-training provider in the UK.

* ConstructionSkills can also assist businesses with the cost of training through the CITB-ConstructionSkills grant scheme. For more information see www.csskills.org

To mark the UK's first National Apprenticeship Week in February, ConstructionSkills attended recruitment fairs around England and hosted events such as the West Midlands workshop: getting the most out of your apprentice.

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