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25 July 2007

Why doing ABCs could save construction industry £millions

ConstructionSkills today announced that it has made an agreement with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to bring the award-winning Government Achieving Behavioural Change (ABC) health and safety course to the wider industry. The announcement was made at today’s industry launch of the Behavioural Change Programme, which was led by Lord McKenzie, Minister with responsibility for Health and Safety.

The Achieving Behavioural Change (ABC) course, which will now be available through the ConstructionSkills Site Safety Plus scheme, was previously known as the DWP Jobcentre Plus (JCP) ABC course. This one-day Behavioural Change Programme was developed as part of the JCP National Rollout Project; the refurbishment of over 900 Jobcentres and Social Security offices in Great Britain, one of the largest government construction programmes in recent years.

All management and operatives working on DWP’s Jobcentre Plus project were obliged to attend and pass the ABC course, and to obtain an appropriate passport to work card. The course was specifically written to address working in occupied buildings, identifying typical hazards that would be found during refurbishment works and encouraging operatives to think and behave safely towards others. Its success helped the Jobcentre Plus project reduce the average Accident Incident Rate (AIR) nearly 10 ten times fewer than the Construction Industry Average for that year, equating to minimum project savings of £8.9 million over £600m construction spend. It was also recognised as best-practice in several cross-industry award schemes.

With the project having now come to an end, ConstructionSkills has stepped in as part of its Sector Skills Council remit, to ensure that a wider section of industry can access the learnings of this valuable course – particularly taking it into the wider construction market beyond refurbishment. ABC will now be delivered by ConstructionSkills, as part of the Site Safety Plus lifelong learning health and safety training suite. The course will be immediately made available through the ConstructionSkills training division – the National Construction College (NCC) – as well as now being available for accreditation through the ConstructionSkills approved training providers across the UK.

Kevin Fear, Head of Health, Safety and the Environment at ConstructionSkills, and a speaker at today’s event, added:

“ConstructionSkills is delighted to be able to roll out this successful course as part of the Site Safety Plus scheme. The ABC course developed by DWP Jobcentre Plus is a great example of Government, industry and ConstructionSkills working together to achieve a shared objective of driving down accident rates on construction sites.”

All Site Safety Plus courses are available through the National Construction College, and registered companies can claim CITB-ConstructionSkills Grant to help with the costs. Courses are supported by a range of publications and the SMSTS course is recognised by the Chartered Institute of Building, The Institute of Civil Engineers and The Institute of Occupational Health and Safety.

For further information, visit, call 0844 844 1315 or email

- Ends -

For media information, please contact:
Lorna Gozzard - 020 7299 8740 or email

Research statistics

Research into the market for Health and Safety courses in the Construction Industry and the impact on the development of SMSTS was conducted by IFF Research Ltd, March 2007, on behalf of ConstructionSkills. It shows that:

§ Only a third (35%) of managers have undertaken health and safety training

§ Just over a third of all employers spend less than £250 a year on training in this area.

Additional information on Site Safety Plus

The courses offered as part of this scheme include:

§ Health and Safety Awareness (one day): Before an operative goes on site, they need to be health and safety aware. This introductory course is for those who have just entered the industry and is the first step on an ongoing pathway to understanding and avoiding all the hazards on-site.

§ The Site Supervisors’ Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS, two days): At the next level, where an individual assumes responsibility for a team, they need to understand their moral and legal obligations. The course is designed for first line managers or those preparing to undertake a site supervision role.

§ Site Safety for Shopfitters and Interior Contractors (three days): This course is for supervisors, managers and foreman who work in the shopfitting and interiors sector.

§ The Site Supervisors’ Safety Training Scheme Refresher Course: The SSSTS certificate is valid for five years, after which a mandatory refresher course is taken. However, with legislation changing more frequently, ConstructionSkills recommends taking the refresher course every three years.

§ Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS, five days): Site managers are legally and morally responsible for the safety of many people. This course is designed for people responsible for planning, organising, monitoring and controlling and administering a workforce. The content includes legislation relating to safe practices in the building, construction and civil engineering industries. The course focuses on the need for risk assessment and good on-site communication to sustain site practices.

§ SMSTS Refresher Course (two days): Again, the SMSTS certificate is valid for five years, after which a mandatory refresher course is taken. However, with legislation changing more frequently, ConstructionSkills recommends taking the refresher course every three years.

About ConstructionSkills

ConstructionSkills is the Sector Skills Council for the construction industry. It is UK-wide and represents the whole industry from professional consultancies to major contractors and SMEs. Established as a Sector Skills Council in 2003, ConstructionSkills is working to deliver a safe, professional and fully qualified construction workforce.

ConstructionSkills is a partnership between CIC, CITB NI and CITB-ConstructionSkills. All three partners are committed to working together to deliver industry-led skills and training solutions through the Sector Skills Agreement for construction. We work to negotiate the best partnership and funding deals for the construction industry to help raise standards and we develop the skills products and services employers need.

The construction sector is central to the UK economy, generating almost 9% of UK GDP and with a turnover of more than £203bn a year. It employs 2.5 million people and requires a further 87,600 new entrants per year to 2011, as forecast by our Construction Skills Network.

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