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Written by
on 07 February 2015


Are you using the right CSCS cards on site?

CSCS Tests and CSCS CardsDesigned as a tool for site operators to quickly and easily verify the skills and qualifications of subcontractors and employees, the CSCS card scheme has been relatively successful since its creation. Simply by scanning CSCS cards with an approved app, employers can see at a glance that employees are properly skilled for their role and that they have a basic understanding of health and safety issues on site.

Thanks to the various levels and types of card available, site operators can insist that all workers and visitors hold the relevant credentials before being permitted access to work. By implementing such a policy site operators will be able to meet many of their obligations under the current CDM legislation. These sites also tend to be more efficient when it comes to health and safety management, reducing the risks posed to employees and the general public.

But what are you looking at?

As well as being able to scan cards to verify their authenticity, site operators should be able to visually identify the colour-coded cards to ensure that holders are only carrying out the duties for which they are authorised. Each card has the type printed on the front along with a photograph of the holder, but the colours also provide a very quick indication of the sorts of applicable jobs.

Red cards are typically held by tradespersons of all levels, from trainees to apprentices, experienced workers to experienced managers. Red cards are reserved for hands-on roles.

Blue cards, labelled Skilled Worker, are only issued to people who have achieved a level 2 NVQ or completed an employer-sponsored City and Guilds apprenticeship. Thus blue cards are only available to experienced, qualified workers.

Managers who have achieved NVQ levels 4,5,6 or 7 in a construction-related NVQ. SVQ or QCF can apply for a black CSCS card. Valid for five years the black card signifies management-level expertise, having passed the CITB Managers and Professionals Health, Safety and Environment Test.

Labourers are issued with a green card after completion of a basic health and safety qualification, like the Health and Safety Awareness course certificate, or the IOSH Working safely course in addition to the CITB Health and Safety Environment test. As the most basic level of certification, green cards are not valid for any other role, including construction site operatives (as was the case in the past).

Other CSCS cards are also available in yellow, gold and silver colours for specialist roles.

What to check

When checking employee CSCS cards there are a number of factors to consider:

  • The colour/type of card – does the employee hold the right type of card for the role they are doing?
  • The name on the card – every CSCS card has the holder’s name printed on it, so you must check that it matches other identification (like passport or foreign ID card).
  • The expiry date – CSCS cards are only valid for five years from the date of issue, so holders need to renew them periodically. Contractors holding expired cards are not covered by the CSCS scheme.
  • The registration number – when entered into the online CITB website (along with the employee’s date of birth and National Insurance number) will confirm the card type and a photo of the registered holder.

Newer cards come equipped with “smart chips” that contain a digital copy of the data embedded. Using a special smart card reader, employers can easily verify that the card is held by the right person, and that It has not been tampered with or falsified in any way.

How often does your business check CSCS cards? How do you keep on top of validity periods and the like?

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.