CEF looks forward to Safety Reboot

Jonathan Caughey, Federation Manager at the CEF, discusses the upcoming Safety Reboot initiative and changes to CSR...

L-R: Jonathan Caughey, CEF Federation Manager; Declan McLogan, CEF H & S Committee Chair and Mark Spence, CEF Managing Director, launch the Safety Reboot initiative.

Following a year that everyone would like to forget, the Construction Employers Federation is looking forward to a new month-long initiative, Safety Reboot, in January 2021 as a chance to refocus on key areas of construction health and safety. Looking back 2020 got off to an awful start in Northern Ireland with four fatalities as a result of falls from height very early in the year and, while statistics are often batted around, the reality is that this is four people who did not return from work one day as they had planned to, four families devastated by the loss of a loved one. According to HSENI, falls from height remain one of the biggest causes of death, disability and injury on construction sites in Northern Ireland.

As the world reacted to Covid-19 and terms such as social-distancing became a part of our everyday lives, health and safety became the priority consideration and the construction industry came together to find ways of ensuring the safety of workers at the same time as continuing to operate, albeit at lower levels of activity.

Made up of Federation members, the CEF set up a Covid-19 Taskforce in response to the virus which identified the need for safe ways of working to be developed and led to the formation of the Health & Safety Subgroup. The H&S Subgroup reviewed and compiled guidance on best practices and resources to assist companies and provide a route to getting back to site safely.

While the onset of a global pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way we live and work, the CEF has been proud of how Northern Ireland’s construction industry showed great collaboration and adaptability to ‘keep the show on the road’ during a time of extreme adversity.

Safety Reboot will start the first week back after the Christmas break. The aim of the initiative is to encourage construction companies to stop work for about fifteen minutes, once a week throughout January, to take time to focus on key areas of health and safety. Returning after Christmas can be difficult, people can be less focussed after all the festivities and it can take time to get back into the swing of things on site. It is times like this when there is an increased likelihood that accidents will occur.

To help regain focus the topic for the first week will be site reinduction. The CEF Health and Safety Committee has compiled resources on seven additional topics which companies can choose from in the following weeks throughout January. The resources consist of questions to aid conversation and interaction between the workforce on each topic. Of course, given the current circumstances it is essential that social distancing is observed during any stoppage.

Companies are encouraged to get involved and to use these short stoppages as a time for staff to really engage with each other on the important topics of health and safety. Now, more than ever, it is important to highlight the great work carried out by construction companies from Northern Ireland to keep their workforces and sites safe. With that in mind, please share what your company is doing as part of Safety Reboot on social media under the hashtag #safetyreboot.

The CEF would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our members a happy Christmas and a healthy and safe 2021.

From 31 December 2020 all Construction Skills Register (CSR) skilled cards or above that were originally issued on the basis of an occupational assessment and Industry Accreditation will expire on 31 December 2024. The majority of valid cards are not impacted by this change.

To be clear, from 31 December 2020, the cards impacted can be renewed in the normal way i.e., one day CSR health and safety course or applicable supervisor/manager refresher.

The impacted cards will have a shorter than normal duration the closer they are issued to 31 December 2024. Once these cards expire on 31 December 2024, candidates will then have to be registered on or achieved an NVQ Level 2 qualification or higher (applicable to the card level they are applying for e.g., NVQ Level 3 for gold craft card) based on their occupation.

Candidates who already have an applicable NVQ qualification will continue to receive cards that are valid for 4 years from the date the relevant health and safety training is completed. There are also numerous other card types not impacted and these will continue to be renewed as they are now and will continue to be issued for the normal duration (usually four years).

These changes are the latest in a series of amendments needed to ensure that CSR meets the Construction Leadership Council’s “One Industry Logo” requirements which will ensure CSR cards continue to be accepted in GB.

Information on the cards available from CSR and the associated training and qualifications requirements can be found at www.cefni.co.uk/schemes/construction-skills-register/card-types/