Branching Out

I attended a CITB Site Managers Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) course, a four-and-a-half-day attendance. Unfortunately, this was the only course certification that many construction companies and agencies blindly insist you have.

I can only comment from my own course attendance and experience, but it was basic health and safety comparable to the IOSH managing safely level with added on material (in the later stages) which was a team effort to safely lay out a project on a board and the general organising of a small project where you stand in front of others to explain your role within the organisation of a given project against which your participation and effort is marked.

Only a few guys had managed, or had been involved with actual projects, the remaining ones jumped on the coat tails of the more experienced guys during the teamwork, which is understandable until they gain more experience.

What the lecturer kept speaking about was what is CDM regulations, what is a construction phase plans emergency plans, traffic management plans etc.

Few said they even knew what they were, so it seemed unfair on them.

During questions and answers I asked our group if anyone had seen or used a CPP or emergency response plan? Only one replied yes.

I did take in a few copies of actual working documents in the following day to share about.

However, everyone ‘achieved’ 100% and was sent on their merry way.

So, there was another huge gap!  

Some of these guys were expected to complete a four-and-a-half-day course and end up being flung into a construction manager’s job with potentially hundreds of people and time pressurised budgets?

Not saying they could not do it, but it does beg the question – does a certificate make anyone competent?

A few of the group said they were uncomfortable at the prospect.

Costs – about £500/£600 plus time off work and travel.


Based on the course itself and rather than give a straight low mark, in my opinion a 6/10 as it will blindly open doors just having the certificate.

I do know feedback from three others on the course was three out of ten, but again this was based on a single course and group.

The real learning will be from the preceding years of hands on experience and knowledge gained from dealing with Incidents.

Micro-managing clients breathing down your neck and making you feel everything is always terrible and badly managed adds to the already high pressure Site Manager responsibilities.

Knowing where to order equipment, ensuring documentation is being regularly updated, violence, vandalism, security, winterisation plans, cost controls and work programmes, dealing with personal problems, and much more…a good Site Manager who believes in creating a positive Safety Culture is worth their weight in gold and is the heartbeat of a project.

Unlike myself turning up on a major construction project many years ago and having zero knowledge about CDM regulations or any of the above challenges.

There is complete documentation included at every stage of the course, Construction phase plans, traffic management, emergency response, CDM designer risk registers, creating Culture, Work stress and many more.

If only this was available to me back, then.

I also did the relatively new IOSH Safety, Health and Environment for Construction Site Managers during some downtime. This really was in depth and took me much longer than I thought it would, but the result was the same and no downloadable working documentation to give an insight into a real working system that runs all projects.