IOSH or CITB - Which Management Course Should I Choose?

Choosing an appropriate health and safety management course, such as whether to do the IOSH Managing Safely course or the CITB SMSTS course, can be a decision that's almost as difficult as completing the course itself.

Of the wealth of courses on offer, there are often subtle differences that may not seem all that important at the time but it is advisable to conduct thorough research before parting with your money so you can be sure you have selected the best course for your career and staffing needs.

CITB SMSTS & IOSH Managing Safely Qualifications

Two of the more popular health and safety qualifications available to construction site managers are the CITB SMSTS course (Site Management Safety Training Scheme, to give it its full title) and the IOSH Managing Safely course.

There are some important differences between the courses that you need to take into account before enrolling.

CITB SMSTS Training Courses

  • The SMSTS course is delivered over five days, either in one week or over five weeks, totalling 37.5 contact hours.

  • After five day's attendance, delegates must sit an exam in addition to assessment during the course, which includes 'core exercises'. The exam presents the candidate with 25 questions. You need a score of 80% to pass.

  • The course is taught in a classroom with between 4 and 20 other candidates.

  • The qualification is designed to educate site managers in all aspects of health, safety and environmental legislation that affect their work, including best practices, responsibilities and particular duties. It can also be taken if you are civil engineer or have any on-site management responsibility.

  • The SMSTS training course addresses specifics of construction site management including working at height, managing contractors and site layout. It is a good idea to take this course if your day-to-day tasks including site planning, organising or managing third parties.

  • The SMSTS qualification lasts for five years. To remain qualified, you have to complete a refresher course before the expiry date on your certificate.

  • Currently SMSTS courses are only available in the UK and in the English language, per the Construction Industry Training Board's rules governing all of their Site Safety Plus training courses.

  • You can read more about what the SMSTS course content includes in our guides section.

IOSH Managing Safely Training Courses

  • The IOSH Managing Safely course is a health and safety course for construction site supervisors and managers. Other elements of the course include developing awareness of risk, health and safety laws and responsibilities as a supervisor. The course will bring you up to speed with many key definitions used in the industry as well as best practices.

  • The course lasts for three to four days, depending on the version a training provider is registered to deliver.

  • There is no minimum number of candidates required to run a course. IOSH recommend no more than 16 candidates on each course but limit classroom sizes to a maximum of 20 delegates. This is the case for all IOSH courses.

  • Unlike the SMSTS course, you have the option of studying it online or in a classroom. There is a requirement for at least 22 contact hours.

  • Assessment takes place throughout the course in the form of an 'objective test' and you also have to complete a work-place assessment. You will be given a strict deadline for submitting this work. If you do not comply, you will have to retake the qualification.

  • The IOSH Managing Safely certificate does not expire, however you can top up your knowledge by enrolling on a one day refresher course if you so wish.

  • This qualification has received international recognition, especially in the Middle East, and in 2017, IOSH announced it had launched an Arabic version of the course. Currently IOSH courses are provided in 74 countries.

  • Unlike the SMSTS training course, you are permitted to attend the IOSH Managing Safely course through the use of a translator, if you do not speak or write in English. This is the case for all IOSH training courses and specific criteria needs to be met which we can advise you on if you're interested.

Which health and safety qualification to go with?

Enrol for CITB SMSTS if:

  • You manage construction facilities at any level;
  • You have aspirations to become a construction site manager or beyond;
  • You are a civil engineer;
  • You look after a large workforce, manage contractors or are responsible for site planning and organising;
  • You want to understand the specifics of construction site management;
  • You want to stay up to date with current industry best practice and legislation;
  • Your employer requires it.

Enrol for IOSH Managing Safely if:

  • You work as a supervisor on a construction site;
  • You want a general overview of health and safety and risk management;
  • You want to work abroad;
  • Arabic is your first language;
  • You cannot speak or write in English;
  • You cannot attend a course in person;
  • Your employer requires it.