Plastic identity crisis

23 April 2018

How reliable are construction industry identity checks? Client representatives readily accept the ubiquitous 85.60 mm by 53.98 mm plastic card as a basis for establishing the health and safety credentials of the holder. Unfortunately, the occupational identity of cardholders appears to be routinely overlooked or even become negligible on UK construction projects.

Obsession with worker Health and Safety credentials has progressively shifted client focus away from the attestation of accredited occupational competency. Many client organisations are unwittingly exposed to the use of unqualified, under-qualified or self-designated workers because the competency deficit of such workers is often masked by a few hours of self-learned basic health and safety followed by a tick box assessment.

The virtuous loop

Most of us accept the principle of “better workers produce better outcomes.” Better electrical workers are trained and personally accountable for their work. Good procurement practice demonstrates that value for money; timely handover and minimal snags are achieved when the competency of the electrical contractor’s workers is matched to contract requirements. We believe in connecting competency with contracts. We also believe in making this requirement visible and auditable to discerning industry clients.

The vicious circle

The steady entry of unqualified, underqualified and self-determined electrical workers into the subcontract supply chain during the past twenty years has displaced and discouraged competent electrical workers. Possession of a basic health and safety card may mask the absence of accredited up to date electrical qualifications. As a result productivity, quality and performance on behalf of client projects are often undermined.