Over 1,500 cards issued in the scheme’s first year
The Home Builders Federation and the Home Building Skills Partnership are celebrating the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Home Builders Virtual Visitor Card today (11 December).
The scheme, which was launched in December 2019 with the help of CIGA and Reference Point, has to date successfully issued over 1,500 visitor cards allowing non-construction staff to easily and safely access sites during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The card was created to serve as a home building industry replacement for the Construction Skills Certification Scheme’s Construction Site Visitor card, which they stopped issuing this year. There was a high demand from HBF members to create a new card for the industry, and thus the Virtual Visitor Card was launched.
The learning from and principles of this project will also be considered industry wide to address the new focus on competence arising from the Hackitt Review and the enhanced arrangements for consumer redress to be overseen by the New Homes Quality Board and the establishment of the New Homes Ombudsman. The home building sector is to begin measuring competency virtually against the HBSP skills frameworks in the coming year. This means that individual job roles and competencies can be defined, and competent workers easily identified virtually through a digital ‘skills tracker’ when cards are scanned on site.
One housebuilder who has successfully taken up the visitor card on their sites is Miller Homes.
Dave Hickman, Group Safety, Health & Environment Director at Miller Homes, said, “We are committed to ensuring that we have a workforce with the necessary skills and knowledge to look after their own health and safety on site and also contribute to the safety of colleagues, site workers and our customers. The HBF’s Virtual Visitor Card allows us to achieve that and has been particularly valuable for members of our team who are not construction focused in their day-to-day role but are either resident members of our sales teams or frequent visitors to site.”
The function of the Virtual Visitor Card is to ensure that workers who often visit construction sites, but do not perform a construction related job (such as sales or HR staff), were accounted for and could be assured to have an appropriate level of Health and Safety Awareness by passing the CITB Health, Safety and Environment test.
This allows third party workers, such as Artspace Interior Design Ltd to attend sites safely. Artspace is a supplier to Barratt Homes, where they work installing show homes, and have used the Virtual Visitor Card during their site visits this year during the pandemic.
Katie Garwood, General Manager at Artspace Interior Design, said, “The card was easy to apply for; a standard health and safety test and speedy delivery of the virtual card. The card allows the team to access sites, where we work regularly to dress show homes across the UK. It felt much safer using a Virtual Card to access sites during the pandemic.”
The Virtual Visitor Card can be accessed through an app on a phone or through a computer system, allowing ease of access and for more data to be compiled within the digital ‘card’, while cutting down on the number of physical, plastic cards being issued.
Following a short trial last year ahead of the launch, NHBC have been one of the biggest adopters of the card.
Simon Mantle, Group Health and Safety Manager at NHBC, said, “The application process for the visitor card is very straightforward and, as with the CSCS card it has replaced, you only need to be able to show that you have passed the CITB health safety and environment test in the last two years. I would encourage anyone who works in the home building industry and needs a visitor card to apply for one. We are looking forward to seeing them develop into a competency card at a later stage.”
John Slaughter, Director of External Affairs at HBF, said, “We are pleased to see that demand for the Virtual Visitor Card has remained high. We are particularly happy that feedback we have received has been positive, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic when it has been important to have confidence that staff are adopting new and safer ways of working.”
For more information on the new Home Builders Virtual Visitor Card please visit www.homebuildskillscard.co.uk
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Notes to editors
- The Home Builders Federation (HBF) is the representative body of the home building industry in England and Wales. The HBF’s member firms account for some 80% of all new homes built in England and Wales in any one year, and include companies of all sizes, ranging from multi-national, household names through regionally based businesses to small local companies: www.hbf.co.uk
- The Skills Partnership employed the help of Reference Point, who specialise in smartcard management, to provide the software and platforms to produce the virtual card. CIGA process and validate all card applications and provide customer service on behalf of the Skills Partnership.