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ESS Guide to Coronavirus Card Extensions

Posted on Friday, 24th April 2020

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The turbulence caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has left many construction workers concerned about the status of their operator cards. Those with cards up for renewal have seen their exams cancelled due to the lockdown and social distancing rules, leaving them potentially unable to perform their jobs.

At ESS, we are aware of these issues and are doing all we can to provide the training we can under such conditions. However, much of this depends on the actions of the awarding bodies we work with. In this blog, we breakdown some of the major awarding bodies and their coronavirus policies in order to provide clarity as to what steps you need to take to keep your card.

CSCS Cards

CSCS Blue Skilled Worker CardCSCS cards are an essential requirement for a large number of workers to get on-site and fulfil their job roles. These cards come in multiple varieties depending on the role and level of authority the holder is qualified for.

For workers to get their CSCS card, they need to have achieved a nationally recognised qualification in their job role, which must be renewed every few years by the completion of additional training or refresher courses. You can find out more about how CSCS cards work on our website.

Due to the Coronavirus crisis, many workers will be unable to renew their cards before the expiration date. In response, CSCS have asked employers to be lenient on any workers whose cards have expired from March onwards, as long as they hold the correct card for the job they do on site.

CITB Accredited Courses

CITB acted quickly to deliver some of their courses utilising remote learning methods such as online video conferencing technology. As well as the teaching, their examinations can also be conducted online, meaning you can get fully qualified from the comfort of your own home:

- Health and Safety Awareness

One of these courses is their Health and Safety Awareness (HSA) course, which ESS have already started delivering online for a number of learners. This health and safety certificate is invaluable to the industry as many construction cards, including CSCS, require potential applicants to have completed this qualification, along with their HS&E test before they can get their card. 

As the certification lasts for five years, many card holders will need to retake this course to remain qualified. This means being able to renew this qualification is essential for many workers to fulfil their job role.

- LITE HS&E Tests

As a temporary measure, CITB have introduced LITE HS&E Tests. These are condensed online versions of the HS&E test, designed to help employers gain assurance of staff safety while testing centres are closed. The tests come in two varieties; one for Operative and Specialists, and one for Managers and Professionals. 

These LITE tests cannot be used to apply for CSCS or CPCS cards, they are purely an interim measure to help employers through this period of disruption. Candidates will be required to complete a full HS&E test once test centres have reopened. For more information on their internal testing policies, you can check out the full CITB guidelines here.

- SSSTS and SMSTS Refresher

As well as their health and safety course, CITB have also given the green light to remote training for their Site Supervision Safety Training Scheme Refresher and Site Management Safety Training Scheme Refresher courses. ESS are delighted to be delivering both. Visit the SSSTS-R or SMSTS-R course pages on our website to book your place on either. 

CITB are in the process of putting together remote training for more of their courses so keep an eye out on their website and our video conference training schedule for further developments. You can also email us at [email protected] if you would like to be put on a waiting list for any specific CITB courses.

NPORS Operator Cards

NPORS CSCS CardNPORS is one of the leading awarding bodies for issuing CSCS cards in the construction industry.

Early on in the crisis, NPORS announced their decision to extend the registration period for cards running out over the next 6 months. That means that all CSCS cards issued by NPORS due to run out during the lockdown period will remain valid until at least August. This was a very welcome move and has provided much-needed peace of mind to workers and employers alike.

If your card is due to run out over the next couple of months, simply ring NPORS on 01606 351240 where you will be asked to verify your details. Once this is done, the registration extension will be applied to your operator record. You will not be issued a new card, it will simply update the online records to keep your existing card valid. This whole process is completely free.

IPAF Cards

IPAF stands for the International Powered Access Federation. They are the body that oversees training for powered access platforms on buildings sites such as MEWPS around the globe. Holding an IPAF card is essential to safely and legally operate powered access units.

Due to the practical nature of the training needed to handle the equipment, no training can currently be conducted for new applicants. However, IPAF have extended their grace period by 90 days for any current card holder due for renewal. Once the 90 days grace period has passed, IPAF recommend operators any operators take e-learning or remote training. The body have not revealed much information about where and how this training can be accessed currently. Keep an eye on their website for more information as they update their policies.

CPCS / NOCN Job Cards

NPORS CSCS CardNOCN are the body which oversees the training and distribution of CPCS cards to the construction industry. Their operator cards are a requirement for many workers to be allowed on a number of constructions sites.

Like IPAF, the practical demands of this training means they cannot be completed under lockdown conditions. In late March, NOCN announced strict social distances measures for their face-to-face courses. However, due to the complexities and health implications of running such courses, ESS are not providing any of their training schemes at the time of writing. 

As a response to the widespread disruption of the virus, NOCN have asked managers and supervisors to be lenient on workers with recently expired cards. They are also relaxing the time window for learners who can't complete training within 6 months of passing their theory test.

If you have any concerns regarding your CPCS card, you can contact NOCN directly here.

IOSH Certification

IOSH means the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health. As one of the leading voices in occupational health and safety, IOSH have stressed the importance of working safely during this pandemic and have issued incredibly helpful guidance for workers, employers and the general public.

They have given remote training for their Working Safely and Managing Safely courses the go-ahead, both of which ESS trainers are able to provide.  As of March 2020, these courses will no longer be able to get you a Green Labourer Card. However, these certificates are still highly respected in the industry as the gold standard for occupational health and safety training.

UKATA Asbestos Awareness

UKATA are the leading body that oversees asbestos training for the UK. UKATA certification is essential for many roles which involve potential exposure to asbestos. ESS have been given permission by UKATA to run their Asbestos Awareness course via online remote learning, to ensure the safety of workers upon their return to work. If you’re interested in this, check out the UKATA Asbestos Awareness page on our website to book your place.

NEBOSH General Certificate

While NEBOSH have been forced to cancel most of their courses as they require face-to-face learning, they are still continuing to run the popular NEBOSH General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety via online video conferencing.

However, NEBOSH are not currently able to conduct the examinations that normally take place at the end of the course. This means that while you can complete your learning remotely, you will be unable to complete the courses and obtain your NEBOSH certificate until the exams are back up and running. If you have already enrolled on your course, you should have had your exam rescheduled or been refunded. If you haven’t, we advise contacting your provider or NEBOSH directly. To find out more about the awarding body, you can read our NEBOSH blog, which takes a more in-depth look at their qualifications.

Book your course with Essential Site Skills

As well as the courses highlighted above, ESS are continuing to deliver a selection of our courses via remote learning. These include:

To find a full list of the remote learning available from ESS, check out the video conference training section of our website. You can also find our recent blog which introduces our courses and gives you an overview of how it all works.

Enrol on an NVQ

While it may not be possible to conduct many of our training courses, you can still enrol on one our NVQs. We have developed new options for NVQ learners to complete remote inductions and assessments, ideal for those working from home or in self-isolation.

ESS have a wide range of options available across multiple sectors, skills and levels of seniority.  To see a full list of our NVQs ranging levels from 2 to 7, check out the NVQ page on our website.

E-learning with Essential Site Skills

We also have a platform dedicated to e-learning courses. These are qualifications that can be conducted entirely at home at a time which is convenient for you. Our e-learning blog looks at how this can help you put time in lockdown to good use and build on your skillset.

Still have questions?

If you have any other questions about our training or want to clarify the status of your card, ESS are available to take your calls on 0115 8970 529, or if you’d prefer, you can email our training team at [email protected]

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