The SMSTS, or Site Manager Safety Training Scheme, is a health and safety-based course targeted at current and prospective site managers operating in the construction industry. The purpose of the course is to better equip site managers to understand and execute their compliance responsibilities. As managers are ultimately accountable for the welfare and wellbeing of on-site colleagues, this is an extremely important and relevant tool.
This qualification is sponsored by the CITB, and features in their Site Safety Plus (SSP) suite of training modules. The CITB, or Construction Industry Training Board, are a widely-respected organisation throughout the building and construction sector. Their chief aim is to drive quality standards, and ensure workers associated with all construction-related trades are operating compliantly with both internal regulations, and government legislation.
The organisation looks to achieve this via a number of different methods. Multiple training courses, such as the SMSTS, are facilitated in order to boost worker knowledge and understanding. Furthermore, learning materials and resources are distributed to employers and employees, helping individuals to maintain their development and upskilling after their initial training.
CITB qualifications are well recognised. Indeed, if you are in possession of a CITB pass certificate, and submit this as evidence towards applying for a job role, the recruiting company will undoubtedly accept this as proof of your credentials.
The SMSTS Course
After attending this course, you should feel better positioned to handle all managerial aspects of safety control. This serves as a real asset to your employer, who will welcome back a manager clear on their priorities. Such is the benefit of attending this course, most construction companies will determine that their respective management teams must gain an SMSTS certificate in order to assume an on-site leadership role. However, please note that being in a possession of a valid SMSTS pass certificate is not a legal requirement for managers.
Below we provide information about the module’s content, its assessment structure, and guidance on associated costs. If you require any further information beyond what’s included in the forthcoming notes, we would recommend either liaising with your course tutor, or reaching out to a trusted industry professional. Alternatively, you could visit the CITB’s dedicated SMSTS page, available via the following link.
What will I study whilst attending this course?
The SMSTS takes place over a five-day period, and is able to cover a considerable amount of practical and theoretical elements. As mentioned, this course is exclusively in place to support managers to become more effective in their roles. Therefore, the module’s content not only discusses health and safety-related themes, but also covers managerial growth, development, and upskilling.
The following themes are covered in this course:
- How to read and interpret relevant governmental legislation, and how to ensure your site complies with their variable requirements. This will include discussion on both The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), and the Construction (Design and Management) CDM Regulations.
- How to communicate both positive and challenging messages to on-site teams, regardless of rank, occupation, or seniority.
- Seeking to obtain a full grasp of your managerial compliance responsibilities, and understanding how vital your role is in promoting health & safety awareness, and reducing the risk of harm and injury. By extension, you’ll also therefore learn how to cultivate a positive on-site safety culture. This will focus on elements such as producing risk assessments and method statements, behavioural safety, and managing occupational health cases in a safe and supportive way.
- Absorbing industry best practice, and how to make sure you’re well-positioned to monitor any changes in the construction community’s approach.
As well as these topics mentioned above, there is also some focus on specific, high-risk activities. This includes works relating to electricity, demolition & refurbishment, confined spaces, excavations, working at height, and scaffolding. However, given the significant hazard-level present in all construction environments, this is a far from exhaustive list of potential risks. Therefore, the course will also touch on disciplines outside of the aforementioned areas.
The SMSTS Refresher
If you successfully complete this course, your resultant SMSTS certificate will only be valid for five years. In order to maintain this qualification, and keep it ‘live’ on your record, you’ll need to participate in an SMSTS refresher course. The Site Management Safety Training Scheme – Refresher (SMSTS – R) ensures that all managerial colleagues are equipped with the latest industry compliance practices, and keep safety awareness consistently in view. Furthermore, it also recounts the key, top-level discussions held in the original course, to drum home the importance of the fundamental health & safety principles.
What is the learning environment like?
The SMSTS is renowned in the industry as being an extremely interactive course. Therefore you will be expected to contribute to group discussions. This includes offering views, sharing real-world examples of personal experiences, and listening to the thoughts and opinions of others. As the course content is fairly intense, you’ll need to ensure you’re in the right frame of mind to really engage with the training material.
Most private learning providers will allow you to participate in either remote or classroom-based training. There is no right or wrong answer when deciding what type of learning environment to select. Some candidates may have pre-existent commitments which make attending a training centre challenging. Others may embrace the buzz of the classroom, and rely heavily on human interaction to support their understanding of a topic. Some workers may even be keen to remain in the workplace whilst studying. Regardless of your training location throughout the course, the certificate you get at the end of it will hold exactly the same value.
Time may also be a factor in how you approach this course. Committing to a five-day block may be impractical for some, who may wish to extend their training out over a longer timeframe. Most learning providers offer various completion times. Therefore, you’ll be able to arrange studies around your own personal circumstances. For those unable to commit to midweek training schedules, certain educational establishments will also facilitate weekend tuition.
Thanks to the flexibility offered by learning providers, the chances are that you’ll be able to navigate your SMSTS training course at a pace and intensity that suits you.
How much does the SMSTS course cost?
Qualification prices vary significantly between different course facilitators. This has resulted in varying SMSTS pricing structures. However, we would roughly estimate that the average cost of the module is somewhere in the region of £425-£625 (inc. VAT)
Although this may seem fairly steep, remember that this course serves as an investment in your future career. Those who are fortunate to have this qualification on their C.V. are far more likely to land high-calibre management jobs. Furthermore, the skills and knowledge you’ll acquire as a result of attending the course will allow you to perform better in your current role. Therefore, you’ll be far more likely to impress your current employer, progress into even more senior positions as a direct consequence of securing this qualification.
Given its condensed framework, the price of the Site Management Safety Training Scheme – Refresher (SMSTS – R) course is considerably lower than the full version. For enrolment onto this module, you can expect to pay approximately £225-£365 (inc. VAT).
Possible financial aid
If you’re concerned about funding your studies, it’s worth checking to see whether you’re eligible for support. The government runs a number of training grant schemes, which are designed to encourage workers to engage with learning & development tools, regardless of experience or career status. Often, funds are distributed to construction companies to then re-invest in their teams. Therefore, you may be able to access financial support via your employer.
Alternatively, you may qualify for a means-tested grant. If you’re successful in applying for this initiative, funds will be sent directly to your personal bank account. Additionally, certain, accredited, industry bodies also have financial aid schemes. The City & Guilds, a well-known skills and certification body across various sectors, are perhaps the most prevalent example of a funding organisation. For more information on these initiatives, please visit the direct.gov website.
The SMSTS Test
At the conclusion of your five-day course, you’ll be asked to sit an assessment, which must you pass to gain your SMSTS certificate.
The test consists of 25 questions, which must be answered within a 35-minute timeframe. As this leaves you with just over one minute to provide your answer to each question, you’ll need to work through your exam paper relatively efficiently. However, don’t rush! You still should have enough time to work through each question.
The assessment is broken down into 18 multiple-choice-based questions, and 7 questions which require responses to be in written form. In order to successfully pass this exam, you must answer at least 20 out of 25 questions correctly. This means the minimum overall score required is 80%.
We would also recommend that you read each question extremely carefully. The CITB, in any of their tests, do not design questions to trip up candidates. However, you should pay attention to the exact wording of questions, as some may require a non-standard response. For example, you may be instructed to highlight two or three answers as opposed to one, or express something that you wouldn’t do, as opposed to something you would.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it’s absolutely vital to answer every available question. Educated guesses can often land you one or two additional marks, and, with a relatively high pass score required, these extra points could be the difference between success and failure.
Providing you actively embrace the course materials, interact with your tutor and fellow students, and follow the guidance presented above, you should have every confidence in passing this assessment.
As we’ve seen, the SMSTS is an essential tool used by construction site managers in order to advance their overall learning & development. Indeed, the course curriculum may lean significantly towards health and safety-based pursuits, but there is also plenty of focus given to improving the effectiveness of managers in their general role.
Remember, you’re in control of your learning approach. The vast majority of private course providers will shape your training journey dependent on your personal circumstances. So, whether you want to engage remotely or be in the thick of it in the classroom, or complete the course within a week or a month, you should be able to study at your own speed and convenience.
As part of your training set-up process, we would also encourage you to ensure you’re in a comfortable enough financial position to be able to afford the qualification. If you’re in a situation whereby you’re struggling to cover the costs, it’s definitely worth checking out to see whether you’re eligible for any external financial support.
Please also familiarise yourself with the structure and format of the assessment, as this will prepare you better for heading into your exam.
Hopefully, if you’re either currently operating in a managerial capacity, or considering making the step-up soon, you’ll now have a firm grasp of the merits of attending the Site Management Safety Training Scheme course.
Lastly, if you are soon planning to participate in an SMSTS course, we wish you the best of luck in gaining your certificate, and hope that it helps you to become an even stronger on-site manager!