SMSTS Course Content & Structure

This guide aims to let you know what to expect when booking onto an SMSTS course, help you plan and prepare for your attendance and what you need to know to pass the course first time.

It is up-to-date with the latest SMSTS syllabus from CITB, as specified by the 2018 revision to the Site Safety Plus Scheme Rules.

If you are after a supervisor training course instead then please read our SSSTS course content guide for further details.


Course Summary

There are no formal prerequisites to attend an SMSTS course, however you should hold a manager position or be aiming to progress to a role at management level.

You will be expected to take an active interest in all subjects during the course and demonstrate knowledge and understanding through interaction with the tutor and your course mates.

As with all CITB courses, delegates must be fluent in both spoken and written English.


Course Attendance

You must attend all specified sessions and meet the minimum number of training hours to be eligible for certification. If any session is missed then a delegate must rebook and attend the entire course again, unless due to extenuating circumstances.

CITB must first authorise a rebooking request where a session was missed due to extenuating circumstances. If approved by CITB, the delegate may attend another course from the missed session onwards, as long as this is done within 90 days of the last day of attendance. Approval will not be granted for reasons such as workload, holiday or other avoidable situations.


Course Delivery

Classrooms for the SMSTS course are between 4 and 20 delegates, as stipulated by the Site Safety Plus Scheme Rules. These limits are rigorously enforced by CITB.

The course is delivered over 5 days, with a minimum number of 37.5 contact hours between tutor and delegates.

CITB strongly recommend the course is delivered over five consecutive days, however the SMSTS course can be delivered as either:

  • Block (Monday - Friday)
  • Day Release (one day per week)
  • Split (usually 1-2 days per week)
  • Weekend (usually 5 Saturdays)
  • Evenings (very rare for open courses).

If the course is to be delivered over half-days (minimum 4 hours per session) then the minimum contact time rises to 40 hours. If the course is to be delivered during evening sessions (minimum 3.5 hours each time) then the minimum contact hours rise to 42.

There can be no more than 7 consecutive days between each session so the maximum gap between any two days of the course must be a week or less.


Course Materials and Publications

The tutor will supply each delegate with their own copies of the following, which they are to use throughout the course and take home with them afterwards:

  • SMSTS delegate workbook (code XA6)
  • Construction site safety (code GE 700).

Modules and Learning Outcomes

The SMSTS course is split into four modules and a delegate must demonstrate their understand of each subject area to pass the course.

While there are no SMSTS mock tests to practice with, it is advisable to research background information in any of the following subject areas where your knowledge is lacking or out-of-date:

Module 1 - Legal and Management

  1. Health and safety law
  2. The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
  3. Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CMD Regulations 2015)
  4. Health and safety policies
  5. Risk assessments and method statements
  6. Induction and training
  7. Effective communication
  8. Leaderships and worker engagement
  9. Inspection and audit
  10. Statutory forms, notices and registers
  11. Accident prevention, control, reporting and investigation

Module 2 - Health and Welfare

  1. Management of health
  2. Welfare facilities
  3. Stress and mental health at work
  4. Drugs and alcohol
  5. Control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH)
  6. Lead
  7. Asbestos
  8. Dust and fumes
  9. Noise
  10. Vibration
  11. Manual handling

Module 3 - General Safety

  1. Site organisation
  2. Fire prevention and control. Dangerous substances
  3. Electrical safety
  4. Temporary works
  5. Plant and work equipment
  6. Mobile plant and vehicles
  7. Lifting operations and equipment
  8. Mobile workforce and driver safety

Module 4 - High Risk Activities

  1. Work at Height Regulations
  2. Safe working at height
  3. Common access equipment
  4. Scaffolding
  5. Fall arrest and suspension equipment
  6. Excavations
  7. Underground and overhead services
  8. Confined spaces

Assessments and Tests to Pass the SMSTS Course

To pass the course and receive an SMSTS certificate from CITB, each delegate will need to satisfactory complete the following:

  • Group exercises (including a case study)
  • Written exam at the end of the last day.

The SMSTS Exam

  • The pass-rate is 80% (you must achieve 28 marks out of a possible 35).
  • There are 25 questions in total.
  • 20 questions have multiple-choice answers (worth 1 mark each).
  • 5 questions require a short written answer (worth between 1 and 3 marks each).
  • 5 of the 25 questions are 'safety critical'.
  • You must answer ALL 5 safety critical questions correctly to pass the test.
  • The test must be completed within 30 minutes.
  • You may refer to the supplied course publications during the final 10 minutes of the test.
  • Delegates can resit a different exam paper, without completing the whole course again, if:
    • They score 80% or more on the exam but fail the safety critical questions.
    • They achieve 70% in the core exercises and at least 71% in the exam.
  • Delegates will need to attend another full 5-day SMSTS course and re-sit another exam if they score less than 69% on the exam.

Group Exercises and Case Study

Delegates are expected to participate in the following exercises and group tasks throughout the course:

  1. Implementing health and safety legislation
  2. Managers and supervisors responsibilities
  3. Site briefing
  4. Site layout

The tutor will monitor and assess progress throughout each exercise and then assign marks to each group and their respective members for each exercise.

Failure to satisfactorily contribute to the group exercisers, including voluntary interaction and the ability to safely and effectively communicate within the group, could see a delegate fail the course, regardless of their test score on the final day.


Exercise 1: Implementing Health and Safety Legislation

This exercise covers the duty placed on duty-holders as specified in the Health and Safety at work Act 1974.

Delegates are split into small groups of 4 or more and are asked to appoint a leader/secretary for each group. The tutor will then assign a duty-holder category to each group (self-employed, contractors, clients etc) for the group to then complete the tasks set out in this assessment.

There will be two tasks assigned to each group for this exercise:

Exercise 1 - Task 1

Groups are to describe their assigned category, note the relevant duties and who is responsible for ensuring the duties are correctly carried out.

The tutor will check each group’s answers and correct and misunderstandings before progressing to task 2.

Exercise 1 - Task 2

Groups are to establish ways to measure and control the health and safety performance of their assigned category. Designated group leaders must then present their findings to the class with a short presentation.


Exercise 2: Managers and Supervisors Responsibilities

This exercise covers the health and safety responsibilities of managers, supervisors and operatives on construction sites.

Delegates should once again split into small groups. The tutor will provide each group with a case study, comprising site drawings and a questionnaire.

Groups should list the responsibilities of managers, supervisors and operatives when it comes to health and safety. Their findings will be reported back to the rest of the class.

The group members will then complete a short questionnaire about what they have learned from this exercise.


Exercise 3: Site Briefing

This exercise with teach delegates how to use their knowledge gained in exercises 1 and 2 to write a set of health and safety instructions for a real on-site construction operation or a theoretical construction process using the supplied site drawings supplied within the case study.

Groups are to create a set of detailed health and safety instructions relating to their real-world or theoretical construction site, including procedures, means of communication as well as methods of ensuing the instructions have been received, understood and are adhered to.

Groups will then present their completed work to the rest of the class.


Exercise 4: Site Layout

This task is designed to build upon the experience gained by completing exercises 1-3 to plan a construction site layout that offers a safe working environment where the risk of injury has been eradicated or reduced as far as reasonably possible.

Delegates will learn about how the general requirements set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 relates to the management of safety within the construction environment and the CDM requirements specified in the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

Each small group will be provided with the case study, including site drawings. Groups should use the site plans to create a proposal for a construction site set-up.

Once the task is complete, each group member will complete a short questionnaire which will help the tutor to provide feedback to the entire class about the exercise as a whole and allow for a classroom discussion about the task.

Tutors will allocate marks to each group, as well as add or remove marks for individual group members, depending on their level of contributions to the group work and later discussions.