SNIJIB: online tests provide ‘lifeline’ for firms looking to keep workers safe and compliant

Stephanie Lowe

THE Scottish and Northern Ireland Joint Industry Board (SNIJIB) has implemented digital technology which allows most plumbing and heating operatives to sit their health and safety test despite ongoing Covid-related restrictions.

The offer of the tests to companies with registered invigilators has been taken up by firms keen to ensure that their workforces remain qualified and compliant with Construction Leadership Council (CLC) regulations and requirements.

SNIJIB said the transition to a digital operation was a ‘lifeline’ for companies with the ability to sit the test at any time of day, on any day. They can now book on the same day as their operatives sit the test and obtain their SNIJIB Grading card within a week.

The online option was said to be 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.

Denny-based plumbing contractor James Paterson and Sons Plumbing & Heating Ltd, was among the first to take advantage of the new initiative. MD Paul McPhail explained, “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. 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.”

The online tests also mean apprentices can arrive on site and start work prior to attending college where site safety is part of their curriculum.

Stephanie Lowe, industrial relations manager for SNIPEF and secretary of SNIJIB, which is made up of members of the Scotland and 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.”