Too many professionals don't have CSCS cards because they lack safety nous. Gary Redman of NOW Recruitment explains why you shouldn't be one of them
A startling number of construction professionals, from project managers to trainee operatives, are without an essential item – a Construction Skills Certification Scheme card. The Major Contractors Group has announced that, from the end of this year, anyone not possessing a CSCS card will not be permitted on any of their construction sites. However, as professionals rush to get accredited through their existing qualifications, the CSCS is finding that a worrying number of applicants are failing the test because of a lack of basic health and safety knowledge.

A recent CSCS survey showed some alarming figures: of 22,602 site managers and 10,763 site supervisors who took the health and safety test 1866 managers and 1834 supervisors failed.

The gold (supervisor), platinum (manager) and black (senior manager) cards are all relatively easy to attain – but it doesn't matter how impressive your qualifications and track record are. If you can't demonstrate you're up to speed on safety, you won't get accredited – and no decent employer will consider you for a site job. And going without a CSCS card isn't just endangering your career – even worse, if you don't have the health and safety knowledge the CSCS demands, then you are endangering the lives of the people you're responsible for.

As a construction professional you are expected to know backwards, and be able to oversee your workers on, the rules of site health and safety – but as the survey figures show, this may not always happen. An adviser on the CSCS helpline said: "Although the health and safety test only costs £35 for a revision booklet and the exam, many higher-level professionals feel that they already know all there is to know and will fly through the test. As you can see from the survey results, this really isn't the case.

If you can’t show you’re up to speed on health and safety, you won’t get accredited – and no decent employer will consider you for a site-based job

"All that needs to be done is a bit of homework prior to the test. The revision booklet gives you practice questions. Although they're not the same questions as on the test, they're very similar. With a bit of light revision there is no reason for anyone to fail the test."

Why take the chance of not getting accreditation? Think about how it will look on your CV not to have a CSCS card simply because you failed a health and safety test. And if you, as a manager, can't set an example to your staff, how is our industry ever going to push itself forward and shake off our negative image?

The information resources and accredited training providers are there for everybody to use. A handful of recruitment companies in the UK, including NOW Recruitment, are putting candidates through CSCS training and the numbers of applicants requesting information and registering is growing by the week.