Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today announced that the Government has approved publication of the Construction Safety Licensing Bill 2022.
The Bill will modernise and reform the existing accreditation model and provide for a licensing model for construction and quarrying activities.
Speaking at the Construction Industry Federation conference, Minister Harris said: “The Construction Safety Licensing Bill 2022 is a transformational piece of legislation designed to enhance the overall skills and knowledge, as well as to improve safety standards, for all those employed within the construction sector.
“We want to have a robust training system and to achieve that we need to build on existing arrangements and ensure that they reflect modern developments. The impact of this action is very significant for the construction sector.
“The Construction Safety Licensing Bill will be incredibly important for skills enhancement within the construction and quarrying sector in Ireland, and is a monumental step forward in ensuring a high standard of health and safety practices among our construction workers. It is crucial that we place our construction workers, and most importantly their safety at work, at the heart of the industry.
“I would like to acknowledge, with thanks the work undertaken by the CIF and their involvement to oversee and guide the establishment of the Licensing Authority.
“This is part of a number of reforms we intend to take over the next few months as we move SafePass online.”
These new arrangements are critical for the safe operation of the construction and quarrying sector, and will provide a sound legal basis for safety training and licensing.
The Bill will introduce a renewal process that construction and quarrying workers and tutors will need to undertake to ensure they are competent to work, and are upholding and maintaining health and safety standards. SOLAS, as the licensing authority will oversee this new process.
This licensing model is a key element in the Department’s response to construction skills needs and meeting workforce requirements as outlined under Housing for All, the National Development Plan 2021-2030 and the Climate Action Plan.
In addition to this, the Bill will also play an important role in contributing to increased female participation in the sector and will ensure continued growth in public awareness of the diversity and scale of occupations and opportunities in the construction sector.
Notes to the Editor
Construction Safety Licensing Bill 2022
- As part of its continuous improvement programme, SOLAS, in 2017, commissioned an independent review (Bearing Point Report) of its Construction Services Unit. This included widespread stakeholder consultations and set out to identify opportunities for process improvement, including of the CSCS, QSCS and SafePass schemes.
- Bearing Point consultants met with a various stakeholders, including the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), the Construction Industry Training Board, Approved Training Organisations, Education and Training Boards, individual trainers, tutors, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Building and Allied Trades Union, the Transformation and Transition Steering Committee and Construction Industry Advisory Group. The latter two groupings consisted of industry, employers and union partners and State bodies.
- The Bearing Point recommendations included improving the legislative instruments that define the requirements for the Safe Pass, QSCS and CSCS schemes. These schemes were deemed dated and not reflective of changes in the construction sector and workforce arrangements. To keep skills current, it was noted that these schemes were better suited to a licensing type model which would include formal renewal and Competency Professional Development processes.
- Establishing a Licensing Authority for the construction sector was a key recommendation arising from the Bearing Point Report (2017).
- There is widespread support from the main partners for the proposed new arrangements, including from industry representatives and SOLAS.
- The licensing model proposed is a key element of DFHERIS’s response to construction skills needs and meeting the workforce requirements outlined under Housing for All, the National Development Plan 2021-2030 and the Climate Action Plan.
- Recognising the time which had elapsed since the Bearing Point Report, in December 2021 DFHERIS published a consultation paper and sought fresh submissions regarding the development of a licensing model for construction sector safety training.
Construction Safety Licensing Bill, 2022:
The main features of this Bill are:
- The introduction (on a primary legislative basis) of safety awareness requirements for workers in the construction sector;
- The establishment of a licensing model for workers based on an assessment of competence, to replace the accredited training model;
- The introduction of skills-based assessment with no distinction on the basis of environment, thus amalgamating the assessment and licensing process for construction and quarrying activities;
- The establishment of a licensing regime for tutors;
- The establishment of an approvals requirement for training organisations conducting certain reserved activities;
- The creation of offences for failure to hold the appropriate licence and associated offences for contractors and employers.
Read more here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/ebf3f-general-scheme-of-the-construction-safety-licensing-bill-2022/
- The main purpose of the current Construction Skills Certification Scheme and Quarrying Skills Certification Schemes is to ensure that people operate machinery and conduct tasks in a safe and competent manner. This requires appropriate monitoring and inspection which the current certification arrangements do not provide.
- The benefits include the development of a modern and fit for purpose system which in turn will raise safety awareness and minimise accidents and injuries on site.
- Relevant site personnel will have to undergo basic health and safety awareness training to enable them to work onsite and to ensure workers are not at risk to themselves or others.
- The licensing model will assist in meeting the workforce requirements, skills and objectives outlined in Government strategies, including Housing for All and the National Development Plan. Introducing occupational recognition under a licensing model is anticipated to raise awareness regarding the scale and diversity of opportunities in the sector which will also create an opportunity to support increased female participation in the construction industry.
- The development of this licensing model is an important step in the continued response to the needs of the construction sector.