17 Aug 2020

What is the Construction Plant Competence Scheme & how to apply?

Under the management of the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), CPCS was launched in 2003. CPCS is a standard card scheme designed to prove the competency and skill level of plant operators.

CPCS allows employers to comply with regulations and requirements. The scheme undergoes continuous review and update by the CITB. Most plants in the UK are run by the United Kingdom Contractors Group (UKCG) which makes CPCS compulsory.

Do I Need a CPCS Card?

Build UK requires that all plant operatives must hold a CPCS card. Many construction companies outside Build UK are increasingly demanding CPCS certification. However, not all employers have mandated it. Also, outside the construction industry, most employers do not require it.

Therefore, if you work in construction in the UK you should have this card. Even if your company does not ask for it, it is a proof of your skills which might come in handy.

CPCS Card Types

There are three types of CPCS cards and for each one, you will be required to complete a theory and a practical test. The cards are obtained in the following three stages.

Stage One

The Red Card (a.k.a Trained Operator Card) is the first CPCS card. This card cannot be renewed and will expire after 2 years. 

The requirements are:

  • CPCS theory test
  • CPCS Technical test
  • A recent CITB Safety, Health and Environment Test certificate (no older than 2 years)

Stage Two

The Blue Card (a.k.a Competent Operator Card) is the second CPCS card. This card can be renewed and will expire after 5 years. 

The requirements are:

  • Evidence of qualificationt
  • CPCS theory test
  • CPCS Technical test
  • A recent CITB Safety, Health and Environment Test certificate (no older than 2 years)

Stage Three

The Tester Card is the last and most advanced CPCS card. Once obtained, this card gives you the authority to test others for the CPCS cards. 

This card is issued at first as the Provisional Card (valid for 2 years). Upon qualifying, the Full Card is issued which is valid for 5 years.

How to apply for a CPCS card?

The CPCS card application consists of several steps. Prior to your application, you must complete the necessary training for your plant position or equipment. 

You must decide which card you want to apply for (red or blue card as stated above). Then you must go through the following steps:

  1. Before you take the actual CPCS tests you must pass the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test (a.k.a CSCS Test). Keep in mind the issued certificate will be valid for 2 years.
  2. Next, you must pass the CPCS Theory Test. This test must be taken at a test center approved by CPCS.
  3. Within 6 months of passing the Theory Test, you must pass the CPCS Practical Test. Also, both the Theory and Practical Tests must be taken before your CSCS Test certificate expires.
  4. Now, you have to complete and submit the CPCS Application form. This can be done through your test center or by yourself. Your CPCS card should arrive within 15 days of submitting all the required documents.

Renewal of CPCS Blue Card (Competent Card)

In order to renew your CPCS Blue Card, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Hold a valid (not expired) Blue Card
  • Evidence of a Logbook with at least 300 hours of activity per category of your work
  • Pass CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test
  • Complete an on-site Assessment
  • Pass a CPCS Practical Test

There is a card processing fee associated with the renewal process. This fee is included in the CPCS renewal test fees.

CSPS Training

As we have mentioned above, the CSPS Test is crucial if you are working in the construction industry. If you are just a beginner, there are a plethora of training options available for you to undertake.

You can choose to take a training course as a private applicant. But that can be quite expensive and you may need several attempts to pass. Therefore, we suggest you enroll in a training program once you start working at a construction company. There is a possibility your employer will sponsor you. They may also help you identify trusted training providers.

Summary

The CPCS scheme ensures the safety of plant workers and companies by using rigorous testing and a continuously upgrading scheme. A certified worker is guaranteed to meet all the health, safety, training, and security requirements. It leads to great financial benefits for the worker. For the company, it allows them to comply with all applicable regulations and standards.