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Well, the first and most important thing you need to know about the SMSTS is this:-

If you want a site management job in the UK you have to get that Certificate!

The next thing is that it will cost around £600 for a 5-day full-time course. If your employer is paying, no probs!

A good skive off work!

If you freelance and have to pay yourself, that is a heavy investment! Loss of 5 days earnings plus course fee probably clocks up around £2,000! Will the wife go for it or do you look, as so many others have, for work overseas?

SMSTS

Anyway, the next thing to know is what is covered in the SMSTS course. There are actually 12 subjects covered in the course. These are:-

  1. The Health and Safety at Work Act – a quick overview letting you know you are in trouble if someone gets injured or killed on your site.
  2. Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations – something that doesn’t really bother us on site except for making sure we have all the paperwork prepared by other people ready to hand!
  3. Risk assessments/method statements – now from our point of view this one can be a real naughty one! In the early days we had to sit there for weeks writing reams of stuff. One took me 120 pages! Has improved though because we now have ones on file which can often just be printed off and used again. It does require site management to be aware of site-specific hazards, though.
  4. Recent changes in accepted working practices. – This one can pretty well be just an update on fashion! Protective gloves are now super-good for very nearly every trade and offer far better protection than the early one-size-fits-all plastic ones!
  5. Behavioural safety. – This is the real killer and, to me, the thing that makes the SMSTS a questionable qualification. Fine for the experienced tradesmen moving into management, but how does a newly graduated applicant know how to look for the bloke that is an accident looking for somewhere to happen?
  6. Management of occupational health- this, I suppose, amounts to being made aware that we all have to wander around the site with our eyes wide open to make sure everything is safe and all work being done as it should be.
  7. Electricity – this comes down to making sure that whoever is working on the electrical installations is a fully qualified and competent man. He mustn’t allow access to any live cables! As for high voltage, the lesson I was given was this:- if the man from the Board starts to turn away, you run like h*ll.
  8. Excavations- safely shuttered to avoid collapse and edge protected with warning signs.
  9. Working at height- Scaffolding safe and secure? Safety netting? Edge protection? Protection below from falling objects? All that kind of thing.
  10. Scaffolding- making sure it is erected by qualified men, the right heights for ease of access to work from, properly signed off, regularly inspected and, perhaps most important, making sure kids can’t get up on it!
  11. Demolition – This can only touch on the subject! Dropping Tower Blocks is a bit specialist! About as dramatic most of us will get around to is demolishing the odd wall. When we do, we have to make sure whether or not it is load-bearing and ,if it is, making sure something else is installed to carry the load. Usually a good idea to prop it up with Acrow props or something before we start! Oh, and make sure nobody is going to get hit when it comes tumbling down! Isolate the area and have men making sure nobody gets close.
  12. Confined spaces. These can be anywhere; underground, ground level, high level. The first thing to make sure of before someone goes into the confined space sounds silly! Make sure they aren’t claustrophobic! When work is going on there we have to have people stood by in case the worker or workers get stuck. These “guards” have to be ready to start rescue operations and sound the alarm!

So there you go! A summary of what you need to know about the SMSTS Courses. Hope that helps you to decide if you are going to go for it!

Nothing too complicated but don’t expect getting that bit of paper will make you expert!

Oh, and if you want to know whether you should get an NVQ or SMSTS then read this post.