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One of the largest unions in the UK has praised the CCNSG Safety Passport for its pivotal role in creating a “behavioural and cultural step change” within the engineering construction industry around health and safety in the last 30 years.

The CCNSG (Client Contractor National Safety Group) Safety Passport is the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board’s (ECITB) nationally recognised safety card for the UK.

Since the quality-assured two-day course was launched in 1993, more than 1.2 million safety passports have been issued, ensuring all workers have a common awareness of health and safety to keep both themselves and their colleagues safe.

Unite the Union is an advocate of the CCNSG as part of its campaigning activities to protect workers’ rights, especially when it comes to the importance it places around health and safety.

The union backs the safety passport because it is “by industry for industry”, with a range of different engineering construction industry employers, contractors, and training providers being represented on the CCNSG Committee.

Unite, which also has representatives on the committee, says having a dialogue “where everybody is involved” has ensured a good structure is in place to develop the course.

Richard Clark, National Apprenticeships and Skills Officer for Construction at Unite, said: “Unite and its predecessor unions have backed the CCNSG from the start because we saw it as an important move for a behavioural step change within the industry around health and safety.

“The thing we ask for our members is that when you get up in the morning, you want to go to work and come home safely – CCNSG is an important part of delivering that.

“The course arms workers with the fundamental baseline knowledge when they go on site to keep them safe. An important aspect is that it is training, it’s not just learning how to pass an assessment. When you go on the course, you engage, discuss and debate.

“It’s been part of a cultural step change in engineering construction over the past two or three decades where people are armed with the confidence to challenge unsafe practices when they see them or when things are not right, and to have an understanding of the processes, procedures and safety measures on site.”

CCNSG helping reduce accidents

As well as helping to develop a positive health and safety culture, Unite believes there is a direct correlation between a rise in the number of workers with CCNSG Safety Passports and a reduction in the number of accidents, incidents and fatalities in the industry.

Unite National Health and Safety Officer Rob Miguel sits on The National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI) group, which sets the terms and conditions of employment for the engineering construction workforce.

The group monitors fatality and accident rates through employer surveys alongside statistics from official RIDDOR reports, which Rob says show the accident rate in engineering construction is lower than in the broader construction industry.

“Courses like CCNSG do reduce accidents, we’ve seen that through the statistics,” he said.

“In fact, fatalities have been zero for quite some time within engineering construction, and also the accident rates are very, very low, and CCNSG must be a major factor in that.

“CCNSG is the premium safety passport, it’s far superior to any other passport or course before someone is let loose on a site, ensuring their competence and that they know safety.”

Make safety your priority

However, the fact remains that the industry has not yet achieved ‘zero harm’, and the ECITB is calling on client organisations and contractors to ‘make safety your priority’ by ensuring workers on all engineering construction sites hold a CCNSG Safety Passport.

The eighth version of the CCNSG was launched in August 2023 to meet the evolving needs of industry, with 80 Approved Training Providers delivering the training course in the UK.

The course is suitable for all members of the workforce and safety passports are valid for three years. Find out further information on the CCNSG Safety Passport section of the ECITB website.

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