This article provides an opportunity for you to complete a SMSTS mock test. This serves to offer a clear insight into the nature of the questions included in the SMSTS assessment module. We also explore what the SMSTS course entails, and how it supports specific types of workers in the construction industry.
What is the SMSTS?
The SMSTS, an acronym for ‘Site Manager Safety Training Scheme’, is a healthy and safety-based training course. It is exclusively targeted at current and prospective construction sector managers. The purpose of the qualification is to help managers gain a better understanding of critical on-site health and safety considerations.
Given that this course is targeted at senior leadership teams, the content is suitably detailed and advanced in nature. Those in managerial positions are ultimately accountable for the wellbeing and welfare of workers operating on building and trades sites. Therefore, courses like these are essential learning programmes, as they contribute toward establishing safe and compliant working environments.
Although the SMSTS is primarily a health and safety course, focus is also given to general aspects of the site manager role.
The SMSTS course is part of the CITB’s Site Safety Plus (SSP) training series. The CITB, or Construction Industry Training Board, holds an important position within the building and construction sector. This organisation is partly accountable for driving quality standards across all industry trades.
It adopts numerous methods in order to try to achieve this objective. These efforts include distributing learning materials and resources, establishing fair and consistent testing criteria, and co-ordinating training courses (as per the SMSTS module).
The CITB also supports the CSCS card programme, which is a key tool used by the industry to distinguish the capabilities of individual workers. Indeed, in order to successfully apply for any CSCS card, the applicant must sit an appropriate CITB Health, Safety, and Environment Test.
Consider your current progress
Many employers will demand that their managers hold a valid SMSTS pass certificate. Therefore, if you have aspirations of becoming a Site Manager, this course could be a vital component of your onwards learning journey. Nevertheless, it’s important not to try to attend this qualification too early on in your career.
If you’re operating as a member of the general workforce, and haven’t yet gained any experience whatsoever in a leadership role, some of the course themes will likely go beyond your current knowledge base. Therefore, if you are targeting a managerial position in the future, we would encourage you to work methodically through each job role, and complete the relevant training courses attached to these occupations first.
The Site Manager Safety Training Scheme is usually five days in length. Within this period, it covers a varied number of themes and topics. At the conclusion of the course, it’s hoped that delegates feel like they have a better all-round understanding of their role. Furthermore, they will hopefully feel confident enough to carry course learnings into real-world scenarios.
The key elements tackled throughout the qualification are as follows:
- Gaining an awareness of relevant governmental legislation, and understanding of how to ensure sites you manage are compliant with its stipulations. In this session, you’ll cover guidance such as the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (2015).
- How to effectively communicate to on-site colleagues, irrespective of status, occupation, or experience level.
- Understanding the full spectrum of managerial health and safety responsibilities. This will also include a focus on why managers play such a critical role in the on-site health & safety agenda. Within this area of focus, attention will also be given to how to produce accurate and effective risk assessments and method statements. Furthermore, guidance will be offered on how to compassionately handle employee occupation health cases.
- Learning how to stay close to updated ways of working, and changes in industry approach.
In addition to these general, competency-based themes, the focus will also be given to some specific high-risk disciplines. This will include pursuits such as electrical working, demolition & refurbishment, working at height, and erecting scaffolding.
The SMSTS refresher course
On completion of the SMSTS module, you’ll be awarded a course certificate. Please note that this qualification will stay ‘live’ on your record for a period of five years. If you’d like to maintain your status as a SMSTS-trained worker, you’ll need to register to attend a refresher course towards the end of this term. As mentioned in point four above, this process has been put in place to measure whether managers have kept across developments in industry ways of working. It also recounts the key headlines discussed in the original course, and serves to keep health and safety focus at the forefront of industry managers’ minds.
For reference, please note this course is formally entitled, The Site Management Safety Training Scheme – Refresher (SMSTS – R).
What learning environment will my training be conducted in?
You’ll be expected to interact proactively with your fellow students and tutor throughout the SMSTS course. This will include giving your opinion on specific topics, sharing your own experiences, and engaging in classroom debates. This training module is fairly intensive, so ensure you’re braced to maintain your energy and focus across the five days.
Most learning providers facilitate both virtual and classroom-based training plans. Clearly, there are many advantages to remote learning, as this provides a considerable degree of flexibility. Online courses can be particularly advantageous for those with childcare commitments, or those with certain sets of personal circumstances.
Nevertheless, classroom-based study also has many benefits. Indeed, attending a physical session makes it easier to build relationships with peers and tutors. It will also likely give you access to additional learning resources, and often affords you the opportunity to test out practical elements of the course content.
However, there is no right or wrong answer here. Please consider your personal situation, and opt for the learning pathway that best complements your own daily routines. Whichever option you choose, your (hopefully!) resultant SMSTS certificate will hold exactly the same value.
Please also note that most learning providers will allow you to conduct this qualification within a range of different timescales. Therefore, you’ll not need to necessarily to complete the course in an intensive five-day block. If you’d like to adjust the length of an advertised training plan, you should discuss this directly with your course facilitator.
How much does the SMSTS course cost to take?
There is no straightforward answer to this, as prices for this module vary considerably between learning providers. However, you should expect to roughly pay circa £425-£625 (inc. VAT) to attend this course. This may seem fairly expensive, but remember that this is ultimately an investment in your future career. Indeed, gaining this qualification will hugely support you in becoming a more proficient construction site manager.
After attending this course, you’ll be better placed to progress further in your company, and be a more attractive proposition for external recruiters.
As the refresher course is clearly shorter in duration, this module is suitably priced a little cheaper. Again, there is a relative bandwidth between learning providers who facilitate this qualification. However, it would be safe to assume that you would need to pay between £225-£365 to participate on this course.
If you’re concerned that you’re not in a current financial position to pay your full course fees, it’s worth checking to see if you’re eligible for funding support. The government runs a number of schemes to encourage construction workers to undertake learning & development activities. This funding can potentially be accessed via your employer, or a skills and certification body (such as the City & Guilds).
Alternatively, you could apply for a means-tested grant. If successful in this endeavour, you would receive any supporting payments directly into your bank account. For further information on funding opportunities, please either visit the direct.gov website, or liaise with your employer.
The SMSTS test
The SMSTS test asks candidates 25 questions. These questions must be answered within a 35-minute timeframe. Therefore, you’ll have little over one minute per question to provide your answers. This may feel like a challenging prospect, however, this should offer more than ample time to complete your assessment.
Within this question set, 18 will be multiple-choice based, and the other 7 will require written responses. The pass mark for this exam is 80%, which means you’ll need to answer 20 out of 25 questions correctly. Providing you revise thoroughly, and engage appropriately with the subject matter on the course, there’s no reason why you can’t successfully pass this test.
Hopefully, you’ll now feel that you’ve grasped the content and framework of the SMSTS course. If operating as a manager in the construction industry, or indeed on the cusp of becoming a site leader, gaining your SMSTS certificate will serve to develop both your health and safety-based awareness, and general management skillset. Many employers make it a compulsory requirement to hold this certification. Therefore, if you’re hoping to become a manager in the near future, it’s worth readying yourself to conduct this training module.
Thinking about your approach
Remember, you’re in complete control of your learning pathway. So, whether you would like to take attend an online version of this course, or conversely undertake your studies at a training centre, the vast majority of learning providers will be able to accommodate. Furthermore, you should be able to determine the timeframe of your course. Therefore, you’ll be able to either move swiftly through your sessions, or extend these out over a prolonged period of time.
Please also consider your current financial circumstances, and consider whether you’re in a suitable position to fund your attendance on this course. If not, it’s worth checking to see whether you qualify to receive financial support, via an employer, certification body, or personalised government grant.
Prior to taking this course, it’s worth familiarising yourself with the structure and format of the exam. Clearly, we’ve already discussed the key elements of the assessments, and covered some key top tips to consider. However, we would now encourage you to complete our SMSTS mock test, available at bottom of this page. Mock tests are an excellent way to tap into the nerves and tension experienced during test day, and give you some genuine examples of questions included in previous assessments. Therefore, they operate as particularly useful revision tools.
Lastly, if you are due to attend the Site Safety Management Training Scheme course, we hope you pass its accompanying assessment, and use it as a stepping stone towards realising your construction industry career ambitions!
Please try the SMSTS mock test above. We would recommend sitting this assessment in exam conditions, as this will clearly give you the best insight of the current score you would receive if doing this test for real.