Health and Safety Consultancy Services for SMEs in Birmingham, West Midlands and beyond

CSCS Cards are going “Smart”
Posted by David Cant on February 22, 2010
1 Comment

Why? CSCS SmartCards are much harder to forge than plain printed CSCS cards

Beware fake CSCS cards can easily be detected using an inexpensive card reader
Smartcards not only provide much quicker access to CSCS data, they may be used for other applications too
Your qualifications on CSCS cards can potentially be updated electronically without having to apply for a replacement card.

Benefits of using SmartCards

CSCS Smartcards will save Time and Money
You can check whether a workers CSCS Card is valid by simply ringing the CSCS helpline or use a database such as Phoenix, details can be checked much faster saving you time and costs.
Personal information can held on the smartcard, ie your training achievements or qualifications gained the cards haves the potential to be updated electronically without having to apply for and spend extra money for a replacement card.

Smart CSCS cards will help combat fraud

Fake or forged CSCS cards have become more prevalent and fraudsters are using increasingly sophisticated means to produce counterfeit cards. This can result in unqualified and even illegal workers gaining access to construction sites putting safety and reputations on the line. SmartCards are much harder to forge than plain printed cards and fake cards can easily be detected when checked using an inexpensive card reader.

CSCS Card Tests

Multiple Applications

Information can be stored electronically in the card chip so that CSCS SmartCards have the potential to be used for a host of new applications. Tracking tool box talks and site inductions; recording continuing professional development; controlling access to building sites through turnstiles; monitoring time and attendance;cashless vending;verifying occupational health restrictions and much more. This means that

CSCS SmartCards could be all that is needed to gain access to construction sites.

How do CSCS SmartCards work?

In terms of applying for CSCS cards, the types of cards available and the criteria applicants must meet, the Scheme has not changed and information about the holder is still printed on the cards. The difference is that a copy of the same data is also stored in the chip on the card (in a similar way to information stored in the chip on a credit card).

The CSCS SmartCard is a high capacity card that can be used for a multitude of purposes beyond just storing CSCS data. Each additional use of the card will be managed by installing a simple computer program called an Applet on the card. This potentially allows contractors and clients to access relevant data such as training records, time and attendance reports, occupational health reviews and other information electronically. Subject to certain conditions, any organisation will be able to purchase the right to put an Applet of its own design on to CSCS SmartCards.

CSCS smartCard Readers

There are two kinds of reader that can be used to access information on CSCS SmartCards. A simple handheld device costing from £113.99+VAT, or the solution that CSCS recommends, a PC or laptop connected reader available for as little as £16.95+VAT.

PC or Laptop Connected Readers

Reading a CSCS SmartCard using a PC or laptop connected reader, displays the cardholder’s details and photograph on the computer screen. As with the handheld reader, this will demonstrate that the card is genuine and will verify the information printed on the card.

The CSCS SmartCard is a dual interface card, which means it can be read using a contact reader (one where the card is inserted into a slot in the reader), or a contactless reader (one where the card is simply placed on the outside surface of the reader). Contactless readers cost slightly more but read cards more quickly.
Only PC/SC accordant SmartCard readers conforming to protocol T=0 (contact interface) or T=CL (contactless interface) will be suitable for reading the CSCS SmartCard.

Before any PC or laptop connected reader can be used, it will be necessary to install special CSCS software onto your PC or laptop and you may also need to load a driver that comes with the reader. The CSCS software is downloadable free of charge. Alternatively, you will be able to purchase it on a CD-ROM as part of a package with a reader from.

Once the software is running, all that will remain is to plug the reader into a PC or laptop and insert the card.
In the absence of an electronic card reader the card can continue to be used exactly like a traditional printed card.

CSCS Smartcard Handheld Readers

The handheld reader is a self-contained, battery powered device that can fit into a pocket. When a genuine CSCS SmartCard is inserted into the card slot at the top of the unit, the cardholder’s name, CSCS registration number, qualifications and the card expiry date may be viewed on the display. This will demonstrate that it is a genuine CSCS card and will confirm the cardholder’s details. All that remains is to check the Cardholder’s face matches the photo on the card. Only one type of specially configured handheld reader is suitable for use with CSCS SmartCards and is available from a CSCS preferred supplier.

Original source: Construction Skills Certification Scheme.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner with a brain you can pick. Fluent in practical advice. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the Director of life at Veritas Consulting.

You can find him on - Twitter and Facebook also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Construction, CSCS Cards

One Comment

  1. August 23, 2010 at 4:29 am

    Effective time and attendance control is one of the big plus points in running a smart card system. No more registers to fill in and cheat on, nor elaborate mechanical systems (where other people still clock their friends, and vice-versa) makes doing the payroll a cinch. Tying a smartcard based system in makes the process so automated that the saving in the bookkeepers time alone is worth the investment.

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