Contractors may have to disclose proportion of staff with skills cards or face higher insurance premiums

Construction companies may soon be required to state publicly how many of their workers are CSCS-qualified in order to meet insurers’ demands for evidence of a competent workforce.

Insurance companies are likely to demand that individual firms give a breakdown in their annual reports of how many staff have CSCS cards.

The proposals were revealed last week at the 10th anniversary event of the beleaguered CSCS scheme, which has been dogged by a series of high-profile ownership disputes between the CSCS board and CITB-ConstructionSkills.

CSCS chairman George Brumwell said insurers wanted to see evidence of competence because of growing concern that poorly trained workers were a liability on site.

He said: “Insurance premiums on construction projects are often huge. If you look at the interests of the insurance industry, within the next 10 years companies may well be required to state statistics on the labour force in their annual reports. We are not too far off that situation now.”

A source close to the CSCS scheme added that discussions had taken place between senior officials and insurance firms over the proposals, and further talks were planned for the near future.

Firms may be required to give statistics on the labour force

CSCS chairman George Brumwell

The source said: “Insurers want companies to be able to demonstrate that they employ a competent workforce that has undergone proper health and safety training. Although they haven’t yet started asking companies to show statistics on CSCS, they are asking about the competency of the workforce. Realistically, CSCS will be the only available measure of this.”

At last week’s event, Brumwell also said that client demand for a qualified workforce would add weight to the CSCS system. He said: “With more clients, including government, insisting on the card, pressure will be put on other areas of the industry to keep up.”

Brumwell added that that the scheme needed to expand its reach, particularly among “biblical trades such as carpentry and stone masonry.”

The event also saw industry figures call for tougher entry requirements to the scheme to drive up standards. Keith Clarke, chief executive of WS Atkins, told delegates: “At the moment, the test itself is meaningless but the peer pressure placed on people to get cards is enormous, particularly at board level. The next challenge is to make the test one we start to sweat over so we have to do some homework. We will have to put money into it to make the test harder.”