Specialists groups have accused major contractors of issuing “edicts from on high” after the Major Contractors Group announced plans to introduce a compulsory qualification for its subcontractors without consulting them.

From 2010, supervisors will have to complete a £395 two-day ConstructionSkills safety training scheme if they want to work with MCG firms.

The MCG, whose 12 members represent some of the largest contractors in the industry, says it wants to set common safety standards for its supply chains.

An internal survey by MCG member HBG found that 35% of subcontractor supervisors had not received formal training.

Specialist groups are angry that the MCG made the decision without consulting them.

Suzannah Nichol, chief executive of the National Specialist Contractors Council, said: “The industry needs to be better joined up when making decisions. It frustrates employers who are investing in training if the rules change, and they haven’t been able to say their piece.”

The industry needs to be better joined up when making decisions

Suzannah Nichol

Rudi Klein, chief executive of the Specialist Engineering Contractors Group, called the decision an “edict from on high”.

He said: “We’ve got the approved code already in place in the form of the CDM regulations [which includes requirements for training supervisors]. This is all very strange.”

A spokesman for the MCG said: “The proposals are simply a way of ensuring that supervisors have attained a common standard, a level at which we hope they would aspire to in any event. This initiative is not particularly onerous.”

The MCG made it mandatory for its subcontractors to hold CSCS cards in October 2006.