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The value of industry-verifiable certifications such as CSCS Cards
Posted by David Cant on February 13, 2014

CSCS Tests and CSCS CardsCSCS Cards and Industry verifiable Certification

The case of a gas fitter fined for various breaches of health and safety regulations, when taken at face value, has nothing of value to teach the construction industry. However the particulars of the case have important lessons for all employers and site operators, not just those working with gas fittings.

A fire and a potentially fatal scenario

The case in question centres on Michael Rowe from Bodmin, who was contracted to install a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) fired hob in 2011 as part of a building restoration project near Truro. Two years after the refurbishment project was finished, a from the gas pipe supplying the hob prompted investigators to look at the work completed by Mr Rowe.

Eventually it was established that the fire was caused by the compression joints connecting the hob to its fuel supply which were leaking LPG because they had not been fitted correctly. The engineer investigating the fire suggested that there was a high risk of explosion and that the residents of the property had been very lucky to avoid injury.

Further investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that Michael Rowe was not actually a qualified gas engineer at all, nor was he registered under the Gas Safe Register or CORGI (now defunct) programmes. Anyone who works on gas fittings without being Gas Safe registered is actually working illegally.

Rowe was found guilty of breaching both the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and fined a total of £4220.

Why does this matter to the construction industry?

In the same way that the gas industry demands qualifications and professional registrations, construction sites can also make use of a similar programme to raise standards and reduce the potential for an unqualified employee to create a life-threatening scenario. The Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) can be used to prove competence in specific construction-related skills for instance.

It makes extremely good sense for site operators to demand that all subcontractors hold CSCS cards to protect against accusations of incompetence, and to ensure that they can actually perform the jobs they have been employed to do. CSCS membership also demonstrates that workers have a commitment to upholding standards of health and safety to ensure the welfare of themselves, their colleagues and the general public.

The CSCS card scheme can also be used to demonstrate your commitment to high standards of work, and health and safety. By enforcing a CSCS card policy on site, your customers can be reassured that your team know exactly what they are doing, and that best practices are being used on site at all times.

Your clients, and you, can even check the registration details of any CSCS card-holding subcontractor online for themselves if further proof of qualifications or identity is required. In this way your business can avoid placing clients and other contractors in danger when working on your sites.

Does your business enforce CSCS card membership on site? Is the scheme a good way to raise customer confidence in your company’s abilities?


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.

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  1. Andy
    February 14, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Hi David,
    Competence is a very valuable commodity to demonstrate and CSCS goes some way to doing this. I do wonder though if any particular card is always the answer.
    CSCS allows tests to be taken in several languages which is good but the ability to bring specialists in from the EU to do work may preclude some highly competent people from working.
    As with many things, CSCS has a part to play in ensuring effective health and safety performance – it will not fit every circumstance though.

  2. Dave
    June 23, 2016 at 6:52 am

    Hi David
    there are huge flaws with the CSCS scheme. training organisations in organised crime by issuing certain pass on the H&S test. well documented by citb. Training organisations who deal with NVQ based training have so many issues against them that it near on impossible to fail anyone all because of the Appeals procedures stages that is put into place. The scheme was a great concept but the greedy fatcats are just using it as a cash machine. No active enforcement. no policing of the scheme. its like someone pulling the race card to instructors. the scaffolders scheme CISRS is completely flawed.

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