The Safe Pass and CSCS Card for construction jobs in Ireland and the UK. Our special guide explains some of the legal requirements for working in a construction job in Ireland and the UK.
In this series of articles, we cover topics of interest for those already involved in construction, or for those hoping to make a career in the construction industry. At whatever point in your career, you find yourself at, we hope you find them useful.
Regardless of your levels of experience, there are a few ‘must-haves’, before being able to start a job in construction or enter a construction site. Although these may differ, depending on your role and where you are working, they are there for the same reasons.
To keep you and everyone else safe on site
To ensure that you have the proper qualifications for the job at hand
Below we list the various requirements for both Ireland and the UK. We go into greater detail with some certifications, including details on cost and the process for getting your certificate.
Construction Jobs in Ireland usually require a Safe Pass and may require a CSCS Card
In the Republic of Ireland, there are several certificates required for working in construction, depending on your role. These include:
Safe Pass: This is a mandatory safety training program required for all construction jobs in Ireland. It covers topics such as health and safety regulations, risk assessment, and emergency procedures.
CSCS Card (Construction Skills Certification Scheme): This card verifies an individual's qualifications and training in the construction industry.
Manual Handling: Required for workers who will be involved in manual handling tasks, such as lifting and carrying heavy loads.
Confined Spaces: Required for workers who will be working in confined spaces, such as manholes or underground tunnels.
Excavation Safety: Required for workers who will be involved in excavation work, such as digging trenches or foundations.
Scaffolding Safety: Required for workers who will be erecting or dismantling scaffolding.
Asbestos Awareness: Required for workers who may come into contact with asbestos during their work.
Electric Safety: Required for workers who will be working with electricity, such as electricians or those installing electrical equipment.
First Aid: Required for workers who will be providing first aid on a construction site.
Abrasive Wheels: Required for workers who will be using abrasive wheels, such as angle grinders or cut-off saws.
Airport ID Badge: For Construction roles at Dublin Airport, individuals must have a valid Airport ID badge, which is issued by the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA). This involves completing a security clearance process, including a background check, fingerprinting, and a security awareness training course.
The cost of a SOLAS Safe Pass course in Ireland is usually between €150 - €200. This fee is subject to change and may vary depending on the location and the training provider. It is important to check the cost with the training provider before committing to taking the course with them.
As the Safe Pass is a requirement for all construction jobs in Ireland, look at it as an investment in your careen in construction.
The steps for getting your Safe Pass are as follows:
The first step in getting a safe pass is to register for the course. This can be done online or in person at a training centre. You can use the SOLAS course search function to find a course that suits you.
Once you have registered for the course, you will need to attend the training in person. The course typically lasts for one day and covers topics such as health and safety legislation, risk assessment, and emergency procedures.
After completing the course, you will need to pass a written exam. The exam is multiple-choice and covers the material covered during the training.
Once you have passed the written exam, you will receive a Safe Pass card. This card is valid for four years and must be renewed before it expires.
After four years, you will need to renew your Safe Pass card. This involves retaking the Safe Pass course and passing the written exam again. Alternatively you can use the new on-line option described below.
Once you have your Safe Pass card, you must wear it at all times when working on a construction site and keep it safe. This allows site managers to verify that you have completed the necessary training and are qualified to work on the site.
SOLAS is the Irish State Agency that oversees the Further Education and Training (FET) sector in Ireland. They manage 21 Construction Skills programmes, 14 Quarrying Skills programmes and the Safe Pass programme. All courses are designed to improve health and safety and to help ensure sectors have access to a workforce with leading-edge construction and quarrying skills.
SOLAS have introduced a new option for renewal of a Safe Pass which went live on the 23rd of January 2023. This involves a learner portal with the relevant learning materials and a test taken at a registered exam centre (Pearson VUE list of centres). This exam option takes 45 minutes (50 multiple-choice questions, 45 of which must be answered correctly) versus the full day normally required in the classroom. The cost for renewal, taking this option will see a reduction of 50%.
Speaking at the launch of this new initiative in December 2022, Minister Simon Harris said:
Having this new streamlined option for Safe Pass renewal is a simple but highly effective way of removing some of the barriers facing construction workers.
Over 30,000 people will avail of this option within the first 12 months of the programme going live. And that’s just the start, as we see increasing numbers of Safe Pass applications all the time.
This is part of a number of reforms we intend to take over the next few months as we continue to promote careers in our construction sector.
Download pdf on how to register for a SOLAS online account for Safe Pass Renewal
Safe Pass - Take a test run at it!
Solas in conjunction with CIF (Construction Industry Federation) have introduced an official online Revision Portal for anyone preparing to take a renewal test at any of the Pearson VUE centres in Ireland. This site offers realistic mock up tests, which are based on the real test.
CSCS Card - Ireland
For further information on the Irish version of the CSCS Card and how to obtain it, please visit the SOLAS site. The site also allows you to check that a company or tutor has been approved by SOLAS.
The steps for getting your Manual Handling certificate are as follows:
Have a look at the different training providers and courses available. Look for providers that offer courses that are specific to the construction industry and to your job role.
Once you have found a course that suits your needs, reserve it, and pay the necessary fees.
The course will typically include both theoretical and practical components and may include a written exam. During the course, you will learn about safe manual handling techniques. You will be given the opportunity to practice them in a controlled environment.
Once you have completed the course and passed the exam, you will be awarded a manual handling certificate.
Most manual handling certificates are valid for a certain period of time and will need to be renewed. Be sure to check the expiration date of your certificate and take the necessary steps to renew it before it expires.
Some organizations may require employees to retake the manual handling course periodically, especially if the employee has not handled any materials for a long time.
CSR Card or Safe Pass can be used for Construction Jobs in Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland a different regulatory situation applies. The Construction Skills Register (CSR) Card is the equivalent of the CSCS Card in the UK. It is implemented by the CEF (Construction Employers Federation). The Construction Skills Register is a register of construction workers who have completed the industry approved CSR health and safety training course and assessment. The card requires renewal every four years and has an approximate cost of £110. A list of accredited training providers can be found here.
The CRS has signed an Affiliation Agreement with CSCS in the UK, and as such CSR cards should be accepted on sites in the UK. As always however, the best advice is to check with the site beforehand. Likewise, the UK CSCS card is normally accepted in Northern Ireland.
Similarly, CSR has signed a mutual recognition agreement with SOLAS which means the CSR one day health and safety course is the only course recognised as equivalent to the SOLAS Safe Pass course. The SOLAS Safe Pass card should also be accepted on sites in Northern Ireland.
Read our related article on Workforce Training Services in Northern Ireland
Construction Jobs in the UK require a CSCS Card
In the UK, there are several certificates required for working in construction, depending on the role involved. These include:
CSCS Card (Construction Skills Certification Scheme): This is a mandatory certification required for anyone working on a construction site in the UK. It verifies that the holder has the necessary skills, knowledge and training to work safely and efficiently on a construction site.
CPCS Card (Construction Plant Competence Scheme): This certification is required for anyone operating construction plant equipment such as cranes, excavators, and forklifts. It verifies that the holder has undergone the necessary training to operate the equipment safely.
NVQ (National Vocational Qualification): This is a vocational qualification that verifies the holder has the knowledge and skills required to perform a specific trade or occupation in the construction industry.
NEBOSH (National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health): This is a health and safety certification that verifies the holder has the knowledge and skills required to identify and manage risks in the workplace.
First Aid at Work: This is a certification that verifies the holder has the knowledge and skills required to provide first aid in the event of an emergency on a construction site.
Asbestos Awareness: This is a certification that verifies the holder has the knowledge and skills required to safely identify and handle asbestos, a dangerous material commonly found in older buildings.
SMSTS (Site Management Safety Training Scheme): This is a management-level health and safety certification that verifies the holder has the knowledge and skills required to manage health and safety on a construction site.
CSCS Card – UK
As the CSCS Card is a requirement for all construction site jobs in the UK, look at it as an investment in your career in construction.
The steps for getting your CSCS Card are as follows:
Determine which CSCS card is appropriate for your occupation and qualifications. There are several different types of CSCS cards available. These include the Labourer card, the Skilled Worker card, and the Supervisor card.
You will need to meet the eligibility requirements for the card you have chosen. This may include having a certain level of qualifications, or training, or having a certain amount of experience in your field.
Complete the relevant CITB health, safety and environment test. This is a multiple-choice test that covers health and safety knowledge and regulations related to your occupation.
Once you have passed your test, apply for your CSCS card by filling out an application form and providing any necessary documentation. This may include proof of your qualifications, training, and experience.
Pay the relevant fee for your CSCS card. The fee for a CSCS card can vary depending on the type of card you are applying for. The current cost of a CSCS card is £36 while a CITB HS&E test costs £22.50. It is important to note that these prices are subject to change. It's always best to check with the official CSCS website to ensure you are getting the most accurate and up-to-date prices.
You will need to wait for your CSCS card to be processed and issued. This can take up to several weeks.
Once you receive your CSCS card, make sure to keep it up to date by renewing it every five years. This involves passing the CITB Health, Safety and Environment test again and paying the relevant fee.
In an important recent announcement regarding the renewal of CSCS cards, The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has set out new requirements for the renewal of CSCS cards.
The steps for getting your CPCS Card (Construction Plant Competence Scheme) are as follows:
Investigate the type of CPCS card you need for the type of work you will be doing. There are different cards for different types of equipment and machinery.
Look for a training provider that offers the CPCS training course you need. It is important to ensure that the training provider is accredited by CPCS.
Attend the training course and complete it to the required standard. This will typically involve both theoretical and practical training.
Once you have completed the training, you will need to pass a health and safety test. This will assess your knowledge of safe working practices and your understanding of the relevant legislation.
After passing the health and safety test, you will need to take a practical test on the specific type of equipment or machinery you will be using.
Once you have passed both the health and safety test and the practical test, you can apply for your CPCS card. This will typically involve filling out an application form and providing proof of your qualifications and training.
CPCS cards must be renewed every 5 years, and the holder must have completed the required number of hours of training and passed the relevant tests.
The cost of a CPCS card in the UK varies depending on the type of card and the category of work the cardholder is qualified to perform. Currently, the cost of a CPCS card can range from £450 to £550.
A CITB levy paying employer can avail of a grant of up to £470 off the cost. Similar grants are available for some NVQ and NEBOSH certificates.
It is important to note that some training providers may also charge additional fees for training or assessment. It is best to check with specific training providers for the most up-to-date pricing.
NVQ (National Vocational Qualification)
The steps for getting your NVQ are as follows:
Before starting the process of getting a Construction NVQ in the UK, it is important to assess your qualifications and experience in the field. This will help you determine which level of NVQ is most appropriate for you. It will also help with understanding which qualifications you will need in order to be eligible.
You will need to find a training provider that offers the NVQ you are interested in. There are many providers in the UK that offer a wide range of NVQ’s. It is important to do some research and find one that is reputable and has a good track record.
Once you have found a suitable training provider, you will need to sign up for the course and pay any required fees.
Once enrolled on the course, you will need to complete the required number of hours of training and assessments. This will involve attending classes, completing assignments, and taking exams.
Having completed the course, you will be awarded your NVQ. You will receive a certificate that verifies your level of competence in the field.
It is important to keep your NVQ valid by continuing to work in the construction industry and updating your knowledge and skills. This will help you maintain your competence in the field. It will also ensure that your NVQ continues to be recognized by employers.
The Benefits of keeping your Safe Pass, CSCS Card and other certificates up to date while working construction jobs in Ireland or the UK
Depending on the work you will be doing and the employers’ requirements, you may need to complete one or more of the courses/certificates listed above.
Remember also that the more certificates you hold, the wider selection of construction jobs you will be eligible to apply for in Ireland and in the UK.
And don’t forget to renew your certificates in time. This can save you money and time spent on resitting/taking exams and on extra course days.
Our 3D Personnel team will be happy to discuss the requirements for any given role, or to offer advice on your own construction journey.
To check on a list of current construction jobs in Ireland or the UK, check out our website, or social media.
Finally, stay safe!