- 1 The CITB
- 2 The SSSTS Course
- 3 SSSTS Refresher course
- 4 Taking control of your own learning journey
- 5 SSSTS Cost
- 6 How does passing the Site Supervision Safety Training Scheme complement the supervisor role?
- 7 SSSTS Test
- 8 SSSTS Future Prospects
- 9 Summary
The Site Supervision Safety Training Scheme, or SSSTS, is a health and safety awareness course sponsored by the CITB. The scheme covers all elements of construction site safety in considerable detail. It is aimed at individuals currently in site supervision roles.
Below is information on the content and format of the course. It also demonstrates how a supervisor can benefit from undertaking the SSSTS, and what future career opportunities potentially lie in wait after completion. However, before commencing discussion on the Site Supervision Safety Training Scheme, it’s worth quickly offering an overview of the CITB.
The CITB, or Construction Industry Training Board, play an essential role in the building and construction sector. They are the parent organisation of the CSCS, or Construction Skills Certification Scheme, which is a programme designed to appropriately categorise workers in the construction industry.
The scheme offers a range of cards, with each setting out its own qualifying criteria. Workers will therefore acquire a particular CSCS card based on their experience, capability level, seniority, and nature of their occupation. Each trade has its own, distinctive CSCS card programmes.
The CSCS also provides training tools and learning resources to students, workers and employers. Furthermore, as it is a trusted body amongst key stakeholders in the construction industry, it has the license to produce sector-wide testing criteria. Therefore, possessing a CSCS card is seen as proof of your credentials within a particular occupation.
The Construction Industry Training Board is similarly empowered to create testing criteria. The CITB runs a number of health and safety assessments. These are used to assess whether workers have acquired a suitable level of safety awareness for the role that they are undertaking. For example, the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test, which is taken by all CSCS card applicants.
There are three types of this assessment available, each targeted at different types of individuals. The Operatives assessment is aimed at members of the general workforce, whilst the Specialists exam is taken by those either already in, or aspiring towards, highly technical or supervisory roles. Current and prospective managers will take the Manager and Professionals CITB test when applying for highly graded cards.
In contrast to the examination used in the CSCS card application process, the SSSTS is part of the CITB’s Site Safety Plus (SSP) classification of courses. As per the CSCS programme, this scheme is exclusively linked to construction-related trades and disciplines.
Be respectful of the course’s target audience
Please note that this course is pitched at individuals already operating in a supervisory role. The course content is specifically constructed with the supervisor position in mind, and therefore some topics would not resonate with those in either labourer or skilled worker positions. If you’re not currently at this level, it’s worth waiting until you’ve made the necessary step up. Do not try and skip ahead to this course, as this will result in wasted time, money, and effort.
If keen to progress towards becoming a supervisor, it’s a good idea to slowly build your experience first. This can be done, for example, by offering to take on additional responsibilities from your current supervisor. This will then stand you in better stead for landing supervisory roles, before you then potentially attend an SSSTS course.
The SSSTS Course
This is a two-day training course, inclusive of the assessments that need to be taken in order to achieve this qualification (more on this to follow).
As previously mentioned, it covers all components relating to safety practice and compliance within building environments. Over the duration of the course, you’ll learn:
- Exactly what the role of a Site Supervisor is. This will include discussion on the daily tasks and activities a Site Supervisor is demanded to carry out. In this way, you’ll be able to understand what a typical Site Supervisor’s working week should look like.
- The importance of conducting these duties, and what impact this has on how a construction site functions and operates.
- How the Site Supervisor position forms an integral part of on-site safety. In this session, you’ll hear about what work supervisors do to reduce the risk posed by construction sites. Indeed, you’ll learn that through direct corrective action taken, supervisors can help to protect the well-being and welfare of on-site workers.
SSSTS Refresher course
After five years, your training certificate will expire. In order to maintain your qualification level, you’ll need to sit a refresher course. This needs to have been completed prior to the end of your certificate’s validation period.
The refresher SSSTS module, or Site Supervision Safety Training Scheme Refresher- RSSSTS, is usually delivered as a one-day course. This is a shortened version of the original training programme. It aims to re-emphasise key learnings from the SSSTS, and provide any relevant updates on safety guidance and legislation. The accompanying assessment must also be successfully navigated to pass this course.
If you’re SSSTS certification goes beyond its expiration date before you’ve completed the refresher, you’ll unfortunately need to take the full course again. Therefore, ensure that you regularly check the date on your certificate! As you’ll see later on, this would lead to incurring an additional, substantial (and unrequired) cost.
Taking control of your own learning journey
Completing this qualification is mutually beneficial for you and your employer. For yourself, you have an opportunity to develop your understanding of on-site safety, and therefore execute your job more diligently.
Furthermore, holding an SSSTS certificate will look great on your CV, and support you in the future to apply for more senior roles. Employers will get plenty of return on investment, as you’ll be driving better compliance standards on contracted projects. This work serves to generate more trust in a business’ brand and mitigates the risk of accidents occurring.
Therefore, it’s highly likely that your employer will support you to take this course during working hours. In some cases, they may financially sponsor you to complete this qualification. However, if either time or funding is of genuine concern, it’s worth being aware of the potential options on offer.
Doing it your way
Most learning providers now facilitate highly-flexible training plans. You are no longer shackled to a regimented schedule of classroom-based learning. Recently, there has been a huge shift in the utilisation of online tools to deliver training courses. This is largely due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, which made academic institutions completely re-think the nature of their qualification formats. As a result, tutors have realised that virtual platforms can facilitate suitable learning environments.
Therefore, if you have other commitments which make reaching a training centre challenging, always remember that you have the option to conduct your studies online. It may also be of interest to know that numerous course facilitators now host weekend training sessions.
There are plenty of providers who offer remote SSSTS training, including companies such as ESS (Essential Site Skills), CST Training, and Envico.
If your employer is not willing to pay for this course, you may be able to apply for a CITB or government grant. Whether you receive this support will be based on your personal financial circumstances.
Regardless of how you achieve your Site Supervision Safety Training Scheme certificate, whether that be in a classroom, at home, and through your own pocket or via a grant/bursary, every qualification carries the same weight and value. Therefore, we would encourage you to take your time when reviewing learning providers. Ensure that they accommodate your personal needs and requirements, and ultimately deliver training, within reason, at your convenience.
It’s also worth thoroughly researching whether you qualify for financial support. It would be terrible to miss out on a great learning opportunity just because you’ve failed to check whether you’re eligible for funding!
Course costs are heavily dependent on your learning provider, location, and whether you’re studying in-person or online. You would logically assume that virtual courses would be cheaper, as they do not require a space to rent or classroom equipment. However, this isn’t always the case!
An average SSSTS course is priced between £200-£300 (inc. VAT). Nevertheless, if you shop around thoroughly, you may be able to find some for less than £150. If you’re seeing a course advertised for over £300, we would advise you to keep searching elsewhere. However, you will clearly also need to potentially factor in any travel, hotel, or food expenses. Therefore, it’s better to work out the overall price, rather than being overly focused on the course charge.
Given that the RSSSTS refresher requires half the training time, the course price is a little cheaper than the full version. You should expect to pay between £150-£200 (inc. VAT) to attend this module.
Hopefully, understanding the financial element serves to illustrate one of the reasons why keeping your certificate in-date is so important!
How does passing the Site Supervision Safety Training Scheme complement the supervisor role?
The duties and responsibilities of a supervisor vary from business to business. Some may hold a high level of on-site autonomy, whilst others may play a smaller role as part of a larger leadership framework. Nevertheless, there are two key consistencies shared by all site supervisors.
Firstly, and most importantly, is the expectation to play a leading part in securing the safety and wellbeing of workforce personnel. Secondly, it’s to ensure the day-to-day operation of the construction site runs according to plan.
As the SSSTS course directly addresses both of these elements, it’s the ideal qualification for in-role, site supervisors. You’ll learn about safety checks and inspections, designed to increase your awareness of potential faults and hazards. The module will also instruct you on how to appropriately communicate these risks to the senior leadership team, and what immediate corrective action you can take. It will also discuss the importance of observing your team in action, and providing feedback to improve compliance levels and ways of working.
Furthermore, the course will articulate what a good relationship with your on-site manager looks like. The vast majority of supervisors will report directly into a member of the management team. In order for a construction site to operate in the right way, it’s vital that communication between the supervisor and manager is efficient and effective.
The course also offers insight into the site manager role itself. Therefore, delegates can develop a better understanding of the issues their line manager may need to address in a typical day. This not only increases empathy and awareness, but also helps supervisors perform better as duty managers. This is something they’ll usually be asked to do in the absence of management team members.
Although a manager holds final accountability for the site, supervisors need to be prepared to take on a significant level of responsibility. The SSSTS course prepares candidates, both in a theoretical and practical sense, for this challenge.
There are two separate testing modules on the SSSTS course. These both need to be passed in order to earn your certificate.
The first test will be in a fairly traditional format, comprising of 22 multiple-choice questions, and three questions which require written responses. The duration of the exam is just 30 minutes, so you’re allocated just over one minute per question. However, this should still be more than ample time to provide all of your answers. Remember, it’s vitally important that you answer every question. Although it’s clearly preferential to know the correct answer, an educated guess might be the difference between passing and failing. This should be particularly the case in the multiple-choice segment. If in doubt, just circle an answer you feel is most likely!
The pass mark for the test is 80%, which means you’ll need to answer 20 out of the 25 questions correctly. However, if you manage to score over 70%, you will be permitted to re-sit the examination.
The second part of the testing structure is to complete a trainer-reviewed case study; this will contribute towards your final overall mark.
The learnings generated throughout the course will suitably prepare you to tackle these two assessments. Therefore, providing you attend both days, and actively listen to the information being discussed, you should feel confident in passing these exams. The pass rate is generally quite high, but please don’t be complacent! Many delegates often assume that multiple-choice tests are a little easier than other testing formats- this is not always the case! Some of the questions will require a considerable level of thought, and may refer to technical industry terms.
Please note that on concluding the course (providing you pass the assessments), you will be awarded a SSSTS certificate. You will not receive any type of card, as per the CITB-backed CSCS programme. However, you can now digitally upload your certificate onto a platform called the ‘CSCS Card Checker’. Therefore, you’ll be able to carry electronic proof of this qualification on your smartphone or alternative device. This clearly prevents you from having to lumber the hard copy certificate around with you, as evidence of this qualification might be required when attending interviews or inductions.
SSSTS Future Prospects
In the short-term, undertaking the SSSTS course will support you to really flourish in your current role. If you’re better equipped to perform your daily duties, then it’s highly likely your general performance will improve as a result. This will inevitably lead to further recognition amongst your peers and management colleagues. Furthermore, it will serve to strengthen the potential for future progression.
Many supervisors will target management roles as their next career step. However, please don’t assume this is an inevitable consequence of gaining some experience as a supervisor. To progress, you’ll need to develop all of the competencies associated with an on-site management role. Something that will help you with this endeavour is attending the Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) course, the next step up from the SSSTS qualification. Indeed, most companies will only consider candidates for management positions who have successfully passed the SMSTS.
If you are eager to progress to the next stage in your career, be clear about your objectives to your current line manager. They may decide to allocate you additional responsibilities, or give you the opportunity to gain some management-level experience.
Remember, whichever occupation you decide to pursue, health and safety awareness should always be at the forefront of your mind. The CITB’s Site Safety Plus course series will serve to help you to ensure that compliance is always in focus.
As we’ve discussed, the SSSTS course is an essential training programme for current site supervisors. It offers comprehensive guidance on how to compliantly deliver your role, why this is so important to the welfare and wellbeing of your team, and how you can contribute to overall on-site safety.
Remember, it’s important that you feel comfortable when approaching your training. Therefore, consider whether you would prefer to learn in a virtual or classroom-based environment. It’s also critical to check to see whether you’re eligible for any financial support, either through your employer or via a governmental grant.
To keep your certificate valid and in-date, you’ll need to take the RSSSTS refresher course once every five years. This will not be a significant undertaking, but is vital to ensure your health and safety knowledge remains accurate, relevant, and close to hand.
The accompanying assessment modules, for both the original and refresher courses, must be passed in order to acquire a valid certificate. Ensure you’re comfortable with the format of these tests.
Lastly, it’s important to be aware of how completing the SSSTS course can support you to achieve your future career ambitions. The most efficient way to progress in the workplace is to be performing extremely strongly in your current role. The knowledge gained through the Site Supervision Safety Training Scheme will certainly help you to be more effective in your job. Plus, it will look pretty good on any management application form!
We hope that you’ve really grasped the merits of taking an SSSTS course, and encourage you to sign-up for this useful training module. If you require any further information on this qualification, it may be worth visiting the official CITB website, or liaising with a trusted industry professional.