"Encouraging and promoting a competent workforce remains a key priority for HSE, and we believe developing individual competence in health and safety is crucial to the industry in reducing accidents and ill health. HSE also consider that these are issues for the industry to resolve and show leadership on.
The key reasons for HSE seeking reform and improvement include:
a. Competence is most effectively promoted through cultural change in the industry. This is a matter of leadership, by and within the industry, not one of regulation by the HSE.
b. Individual competence is a desired outcome, but the means to achieve competence is properly the responsibility of employers, in partnership with employees and the self employed.
c. We are concerned that CDM Regulatory package has not encouraged the correct balance of responsibilities between the employer, the self employed, the employee and third party card schemes.
d. HSE would like to see the Skills Councils, the Awarding bodies, the Colleges and nationally recognised training providers, taking greater responsibility for working together, agreeing standards of assessment, and co-ordinating training and achievement of competence in health and safety
e. We believe that the competence of professionals working within the construction industry should be the responsibility of the relevant professional bodies and institutions through their entrance criteria and CPD arrangements
In dialogue with the industry HSE has stressed the following ideas for competence in the construction industry:
1. There should be a shared vision of what competence means, rather than the diverse and incompatible views which currently exist; and that clarity should not be restricted to the top of the supply chain. There is a need to rationalise and simplify the carding schemes to the end user so that the system becomes less opaque.
2. Competence is viewed by employers as a long term issue, building on the basics of selection, training, management of experience and life long learning. Supervision is vitally important, but is not a substitute for competence.
3. The site-based workforce becomes, year on year, increasingly qualified through qualifications based on agreed national standards.
4. Employers do not rely solely on a worker producing a card, but do investigate their underlying skills, experience, training, and health and safety knowledge, and provide training where necessary.
5. Principal contractors do not insist that occasional site visitors, whether professionals or ancillary trades, must have a card. (Where proportionate and sensible local measures to protect visitors are applied.)
6. The importance of nationally recognised qualifications such as the NVQ is recognised.
7. Colleges, Skills Councils, Awarding Bodies and training bodies embrace the need to build on trade based occupational skills, with skills which prevent accidents, such as communication and consultation skills, situational awareness, and front line supervisory skills.
8. Card schemes only grant cards to individuals who have nationally recognised qualifications- the CSkillls Health and Safety Test is a basic measure of knowledge of construction health and safety, not an indicator of competence.
This response covers the issue of individual competence, separate issues relate to corporate competence."