Construction News

Sun June 13 2021

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Plumbing H&S tests go online

2 days Scottish & Northern Ireland Joint Industry Board (SNIJIB) has welcomed the industry response to its move to let plumbers maintain their grading cards by sitting health & safety test online.

SNIPEF industrial relations manager Stephanie Lowe
SNIPEF industrial relations manager Stephanie Lowe

SNIJIB has implemented digital technology that allows most plumbing and heating operatives to continue to sit the test despite ongoing Covid restrictions. The online test is offered to companies that have registered invigilators.

The organisation said that the transition to a digital operation has been a lifeline for companies with the ability to sit the test at any time of day, on any day. Companies are now able to book on the same day as their operatives sit the test and obtain their SNIJIB grading card within a week. The SNIJIB is also offering a revision manual for the test.

The online option was seen as important because the SNIJIB Grade Card, which shows an operative’s professional status and that they have passed the SNIJIB/CSCS test, expires every five years. Faster booking and instant marking now mean that it is much easier to obtain.

One of central Scotland’s largest plumbing contractors, James Paterson and Sons Plumbing & Heating of Denny, was among the first to take advantage of the new initiative. Managing director Paul McPhail said: “Using the new system, we were able to book the tests as part of our ongoing business requirement for all plumbing operatives to be fully SNIJIB graded and tested for carrying our works on our contracted new build housing developments and to meet our clients’ current working site rules.

“It means we can be confident we have a fully qualified and competent workforce that can be relocated as necessary to various building contracts, ensuring the required level of safety is achieved throughout our daily working practices and duties.

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“The key benefit is that, with online access to testing, we can ensure that no one’s qualifications expire while they are working on a site. It gives us plenty of time and flexibility to achieve their renewal.”

As well as facilitating renewal, the online tests mean apprentices can arrive on site and begin work prior to attending college where site safety is part of their curriculum. The choice of 24/7 allocated time slots mean tests can accommodate both the firm’s and the employees’ availability.

Stephanie Lowe, industrial relations manager for SNIPEF and secretary of SNIJIB, which is made up of members of the Scotland & Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF) and Unite the Union, said: “We have been very impressed with the response to this latest initiative.

“Everyone wants to feel safe and confident on site and this online system eases the process for company owners, as well as reinforcing the quality and status of the workforce.

“A card-carrying workforce ensures that a business is compliant with safety standards and that their operatives are recognised as qualified by the Industry. For workers, it is an easy way to display the ability to perform certain skilled jobs on a construction site to a specific standard and the new online capability will make it easier and quicker to obtain.”

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