SAFETY COMPETANCE tests should be made compulsory for the entire construction workforce, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) urged this week.
Use of the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) health and safety test is critical alongside improved education and training to reduce the numbers killed and injured on sites each year, it said.
'Compulsory testing will mean that no one will ever be able to say they didn't know, ' said CIOB chief executive Chris Blythe. 'It is clear that some people don't want to take a test because they don't want to take on responsibility for safety.'
The CIOB's comments follow the recent review of the Health & Safety Executive's (HSE) work by the National Audit Office.
In particular the CIOB backed recent criticism of the HSE's role by the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Edward Leigh, while he questioned HSE chief inspector of construction Kevin Myers last week (NCE 27 May).
Blythe supported Leigh's view that HSE did not have sufficient resources focused on health and safety enforcement and awareness initiatives. The vital partnership with industry was not working effectively, he added.
'The issue is whether or not the HSE's strategy is changing behaviour in the industry. I don't think it is, ' said Blythe.
Blythe said the CIOB supported calls for another government-backed safety summit for construction along the lines of that hosted in 2001 by deputy prime minister John Prescott.