This guide offers a complete run-through of all you need to know about the SSSTS course (Site Supervisor Safety Training Scheme) and the training and qualifications associated with this scheme. The course is accredited by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). Also included in this guide is information about the SSSTS Refresher course (Site Supervisor Safety Training Scheme Renewal or SSSTS-R for short).
SSSTS is designed to hep promote best health and safety practice amongst construction site supervisors and soon-to-be supervisors. As there are thousands of accidents on construction sites all over the country, including many fatalities and hundred of life altering injuries, good health and safety practice is imperative to ensure the wellbeing of everyone on site.
The SSSTS training course is designed to give site supervisors all the necessary knowledge and understanding of health and safety law that they will need in order to supervise a safe construction site. The course outlines all the relevant up-to-date health and safety legislation as well as offering information and advice on a supervisor's legal responsibilities and best practice approaches.
By the end of the training course, site supervisors will leave with a thorough understanding of how they and their skills can affect the way those under their supervision work on site so that they can use their new communication skills in order to promote safer working practices. The SSSTS course will also equip supervisors with the skills to conduct regular risk assessments and the skills to implement and maintain necessary control measures to help protect worker health and safety on site.
While the phrase "health and safety course" may not sounds overly enthralling, a SSSTS training course differs from other courses as it is assessed on a mixture of a written exam and practical group work making the course a much more inclusive experience. As the SSSTS course has a specific focus on construction site supervision, you will only be taught and assessed on information relevant to you and your job that you can relate to.
The rest of this guide will thoroughly explore the SSSTS course covering who it is aimed at, exactly how you will be assessed and what information you can expect to cover on the course. The guide will also mention the SSSTS refresher course and give you some information regarding the specificities of that course.
The aims and objectives of the SSSTS course
A SSSTS course in London or elsewhere aims to help site supervisors and potential supervisors with the following areas:
- Helping to identify and fully understand the supervisor's role on the construction site.
- Helping supervisors to understand why they need to undertake specific responsibilities.
- Outlining what is expected of a site supervisor.
- Helping to ensure that the supervisor contributes to the safety of the site on which they work.
By the time of completion of the SSSTS course, delegates should understand and be able to:
- State the obligations of a site supervisor in regard to health and safety in the workplace.
- Relay the basics of the Health and Safety at Work Act and understand how that affects their role.
- Carry out risk assessments and effective site inductions as well as understanding the need for method statements.
- Understand the problems the industry faces.
- Understand how their role as a supervisor fits in within the management structure in the controlling of site safety.
- Understand the value of timely intervention.
Who is SSSTS suitable for?
A SSSTS course in Kent or anywhere else in the country, is designed for site supervisors, first line site managers and team leaders. Gangers and any site foremen should also consider taking a SSSTS course. If you are responsible for other site workers as well as holding responsibility for planning, organising, administrating, controlling or monitoring any aspect of site safety, staff or procedure then you may also benefit from attending a SSSTS course.
A SSSTS qualification is an industry standard and is often a requirement for applying to work on a construction site and without it, your application won't even be considered. With this in mind, the SSSTS course content is also beneficial for those who don't yet hold a supervisor title but are looking to further their career by applying for a supervisory role in the near future. A SSSTS qualification looks very impressive on a CV. There are no formal entry requirements for attendance on this course so anyone at any stage of their career can attend and gain this prestigious qualification.
I've heard about the SMSTS course, is this something I should take instead?
If you have done your research, you will know that there are plenty of health and safety courses out there and picking the right one for you not only ensure that you have the correct knowledge for your job role; but making sure you have no gaps in your knowledge that will need fulling by taking the right course for you is also cost effective.
The SMSTS course stands for Site Management Safety Training Scheme and it is aimed at site managers and other management positions within the construction industry. Like the SSSTS course, the SMSTS course is also accredited by CITB. The course aims to teach managers their responsibilities and liabilities within health and safety law as well as teaching them how to ensure best safety practices within the work place by means of risk assessments, effective communication and understanding of their own duties, morally and legally.
The SMSTS course is mainly classroom based and lasts for 5 days. Delegate are assessed by a written examination at the end of the course but they are also assessed for their group and individual practical work throughout the week. After successful completion of the course, delegates will receive the CITB Site Safety certificate, which is an essential part of any site manager's CV.
The SMSTS and SSSTS courses do have their similarities in regard to the course content. Both courses highlight the importance of health and safety legislation and aim to teach how this legislation shapes and influences the role of supervisor or management. However, the SMSTS course is focussed on the role of the manager and so covers content which is simply not relevant to a site supervisor role. The added responsibility a manager has means that they need a more in-depth understanding of health and safety law than a site supervisor needs.
The SSSTS course content does cover health and safety legislation but it focusses on how it affects procedure at a more practical ground level so that site supervisors can ensure safe working practices within their role. Don't be fooled into thinking a longer and more complex course is necessary better as a course specifically designed for your job role is always the more appropriate course.
Both the SSSTS and SMSTS qualifications must be renewed and the SSSTS refresher course and SMSTS refresher course should be completed every 5 years. Completion of the SMSTS and SSSTS refresher renews the corresponding safety certificate for another 5 years.
The SSSTS course has been designed for site supervisors and potential supervisors and so the information contained within the course is going to be much more helpful for you in ensuring health and safety best practice in your job role. Taking the most appropriate course for your job role is also more cost effective as you do not need to pay for a course you don't necessarily need meaning you can achieve the qualifications to start working as a supervisor without the large financial outlay.
The benefits of taking the SSSTS course
There is an array of benefits that can be taken advantage of once the SSSTS course has been completed:
Highly respected and industry recognised qualification
The SSSTS qualification is recognised by the United Kingdom Contractors Group (UKCG) and is a requirement to work on any of their sites. The qualification is highly respected across the industry as well as being endorsed by CITB.
It is a sign that the holder of the qualification has been trained to the highest standard in health and safety in the workplace. SSSTS is considered the industry standard for all site supervisors and those hoping to supervise construction sites in the future.
A course specifically designed for your job role
As previously mentioned, there are plenty of health and safety courses out there and many of them designed for those who work in construction and affiliated industries. However, there are very few heath and safety courses which have been created and designed to specifically deal with the role and responsibilities of site supervisors.
The SSSTS course content is specifically designed for supervisors who are responsible for overseeing work on construction sites. This makes the course uniquely ideal for teaching the health and safety best practice for those who work within this style of role.
The course is quick to complete
The SSSTS course is taken over just two days and so is relatively quick to undertake. This means that you do not need to take too long away from work in order to complete this course and if you complete the course successfully, you will find yourself with a valuable qualification within very little time.
This course is also idea if you need to gain the accreditation quickly after an unexpected promotion or if a last-minute career advancement opportunity presents itself. Despite what some course providers may advertise, SSSTS courses are classroom only courses, not online. Any online SSSTS certifications are not official and will not be accepted as valid accreditations by construction site management.
A SSSTS qualification looks great on a CV
If you want your CV to stand out from the crowd the next time you are applying for a promotion or new role in construction, then a SSSTS qualification is the way to go about it. Having this on your CV not only shows that you have the best and most inclusive health and safety training available in the industry; but it also shows that you are dedicated and willing and able to learn new skills. Being able to boast the SSSTS course on your CV means that you are prepared for additional responsibility.
It's a great foundation for further career development
If you see your career in construction developing to the management chain, then the SSSTS course is a great first step on that career ladder. The course will give you a great foundation upon which you can build your knowledge and skills should you decide to pursue a career in construction site management.
Compulsory refresher training
The SSSTS qualification must be renewed every five years in order to remain valid. This compulsory SSSTS refresher course ensures that you will always remain up-to-date with the latest in health and safety best practice as well as any changes in health and safety law and legislation which affects your role as site supervisor.
The SSSTS refresher is also a much more cost-effective way to ensure that you are always in possession of an appropriate qualification rather than having to pay out for a new qualification should you allow your SSSTS certificate to become invalid.
Why businesses should only take on SSSTS trained supervisors and ensure that all their supervisors have this qualification
Adhering to health and safety law is vital in any industry but especially so in an industry as dangerous and often unpredictable as construction. Numbers of accidents at work are in the thousands in the UK but if you work in construction, an accident at work can be catastrophic and even fatal.
Accidents on construction sites are likely to be life altering and will affect a victim's quality of life for years. This, as well as the financial cost to employers, is why the proper health and safety training is so important.
Ensuring that all your site supervisors have attended and successfully completed a SSSTS course gives you the reassurance that those who are charged with supervising your construction site and your other employees have received the best health and safety training possible. Once your site supervisors have attended a SSSTS course and received the CITB SSSTS certificate, they will begin to operate and implement health and safety practices which will ensure that accidents on your construction sites become a rarity and the health and safety of your employees are kept at the forefront of your supervisor's priorities.
Looking for a SSSTS qualification on the CV of any potential new supervisor is also a great way to identify potential employees who take health and safety responsibility seriously. The accreditation is a good sign that your potential new supervisor has a willingness and the ability to learn and progress.
The SSSTS certificate needs to be renewed every 5 years via attendance on a SSSTS refresher course. This means that your site supervisors will always be kept up-to-date with all the latest health and safety legislation and best practice.
A valid SSSTS training course is based in a classroom and, as previously mentioned, any provider offering an online SSSTS course is attempting to deceive you as there is no such valid online accreditation. The two-day SSSTS course covers the following areas:
- Health and Safety at Work Act
- Understanding how health and safety legislation affects supervisors
- Risk assessments and the need for method statements
- The role of the supervisor and how that fits in with the management structure in controlling site safety
- A supervisor's legal responsibility around health and safety, welfare and environmental issues
- Site inductions and toolbox talks and method statement briefings
- Behavioural safety in the workplace
- Occupational health
- Persona protection equipment (PPE)
- How to monitor site activities effectively
- Understanding the problems the industry faces regarding health and safety
- Understanding the importance of quick intervention when bad health and safety practice is reported or identified
These are the main areas which will be covered as part of the SSSTS course content but you will delve deeper into each topic. Any SSSTS course will usually begin with an induction and a brief explanation of health and safety law and the areas which are of most important to a construction site supervisor. Other important legislation and key supervisor responsibilities in welfare, environmental issues and site best practice will be explained as well as the CDM regulations which hold most importance to site managers.
Once delegates understand their responsibilities and the law regarding health and safety, the course will begin to focus on the accidents which can happen on a construction site and the best way to avoid these accidents. Delegates will be walked through the importance of risk assessments, how to perform risk assessments and how to implement the change needed to prevent accident and injury. Attendees will also be shown the correct procedure to follow and reporting systems to use should an accident occur.
Also covered in the course are tips and basic advice which will aid supervisors with good communication and leadership skills which will equip delegates with the tools necessary to implement best practice and effectively lead and manage a team so that they can ensure the maintenance of health and safety practice. As the course is focussed on the role of the site supervisor, all topics covered will offer tailored advice and information on how to implement and relate all the skills learnt, directly to the workforce at ground level.
How is the SSSTS course assessed?
The SSSTS training course is assessed in two ways; there are group activities which will be assessed by the trainer conducting the course and there is an exam at the end of day two.
Previously, the SSSTS test questions and answers were all multiple-choice, however as of January 2018, CITB have updated the structure of their Site Safety Plus courses such that the SSSTS test now includes multiple-choice questions, image based questions and questions that require written answers.
Part one: the exercises
The first part of the SSSTS assessment is practical assessments which are done in groups. During the two-day course you will be asked to form groups and take part in a number of tasks and discussions to demonstrate your understanding of the topics which are being covered as part of the course. Topics which you may be asked to cover include:
- Implementing health and safety legislation on site
- Where and when risk assessments should be performed
- Site briefings and tool box talks
- Behavioural safety
- Occupational health
These topics are designed to test your attitudes and responses to specific issues which challenge supervisors on a daily basis on construction sites up and down the country. While a site supervisor will encounter issues related to all the above issues and more, it is important to know that you are unlikely to be tested and assessed on all of them. The number of group assessments and the topics they cover will be dependent on how many delegates are on the course and the time restraints the assessor is working with.
The group assessments will be conducted around a case study which will form the basis of any discussion. Again, the case studies chosen will depend on the number of attendees and what the trainer deems most appropriate. Likely case studies which may crop up however include:
- Civil engineering
- Factory and ancillary building
- Street works
- Building of new homes
What the exercises entail
Many people feel apprehensive at the thought of being assessed and working as part of a group, especially with people they have only just met. The above description of the group exercises may feel a little vague so we will run through an example of the type of group assessment you may be challenged with as part of a SSSTS training course. Again, it is important to remember that the group assessments will vary from course to course and will depend on who is in attendance on the day.
The purpose of the group assessments is to give attendees the opportunity to develop their own ideas and understanding health and safety regulations as well as develop their own leadership style. Delegates are given the chance to get a taste of the problems they are likely to face within their role and explore ways to approach and solve these problems whilst also gaining the experience and ideas of other members of the group. The group work also gives the trainer the chance to see how individuals are working and gain a good handle on how they are understanding the course material.
If we use the first topic mentioned above, implementing health and safety legislation on site, as our example topic we can run through a group assessment example. Delegates will be asked to get into groups and then they will be allocated a specific employee category such as self-employed or contractor. Each group will then be asked to consider and answer fully these questions:
- Define and describe your category
- Identify the general health and safety responsibilities of your category under current legislation
- Establish where and with whom those responsibilities lie
The groups will then come back together and discuss their answers as a whole so that the trainer can give feedback and correct any misunderstandings before the second part of the group exercise begins.
Delegates will then be asked to return to their smaller groups to discuss and develop their ideas on how best to measure and control the health and safety performance of their given category. It may be suggested that you brainstorm several ideas before analysing what has been suggested to develop the ideas which the group deem most realistic and valid.
The group will then be required to present their ideas to the rest of the room. This will prompt discussion with other groups before the trainer summarises the findings of the groups and outlines problem areas which may have cause misunderstandings or difficulties.
Again, the above is just an example of the group exercises but you can expect similar scenarios surrounding the other topics which the course covers.
Part two: the exam
At the end of day two of the SSSTS course, attendees will be required to sit a 30-minute, 25 question test, made up of a mixture of question types, including multiple-choice questions which will test their understanding of the SSSTS course content.
The SSSTS exam paper also includes four safety critical questions, all of which must be answered correctly for the delegate to successfully pass the exam. The SSSTS test includes written and image based questions as well.
Delegates will need to gain at least 80%, as well as achieving 70% in the practical group assessments, to successfully pass the SSSTS course.
What does the two-day course look like?
While all SSSTS course trainers conduct their courses in slightly different ways, what follows is an example of how you can expect your CITB 2 day supervisor course to run:
The course will usually begin with an introduction to the course and the trainer will outline the course aims and objective before jumping straight in to health and safety legislation and regulations.
As the SSSTS course is only two days long, you will mainly focus on the legislation important to site supervisors and their duties.
You will run through the Health and Safety at Work Act and discuss key health and safety figures in the UK.
You will also begin to examine specific issues that site supervisors will face in terms of health and safety and then you will do a group exercise before the end of the day.
You will likely begin the day with reviewing day one and receiving feedback on the group activities.
The trainer will then cover risk assessments and method statements before introducing you to PPE, occupational health and then moving on to interventions when bad practice is reported.
Then you will often be given another group task before the trainer reviews all the course material before giving you the SSSTS exam to complete the course.
Qualification and certification
Upon successful completion of the SSSTS course, you will be awarded a CITB Construction Skills Site Safety Plus certificate which will be valid for 5 years.
While there is no specific SSSTS card, you can list this qualification on your CSCS application to prove you have competent understanding of health and safety procedure.
After five years, you will need to complete a SSSTS refresher course to maintain the validity of your qualification.
Choosing a SSSTS course provider
There are many health and safety course providers out there and it is important that you choose the right one for you to ensure you get the best training as well the best value for money. Things to consider include:
Knowing that the SSSTS course you are taking covers the information you require is important. Ask for a course breakdown before booking to find out whether you will benefit from the course.
There are SSSTS courses in London, SSSTS courses in Kent and all over the rest of the country so find a course which is most convenient for you. Look for ones within travelling distance or close to public transport.
A good course provider should have good pass rates as the examinations themselves are standard across the board. If the pass rates are poor, then it stands to reason the training is poor too.
Compare the cost of the SSSTS course on offer with other providers in your area to find the average cost of such a course. The cheapest courses may be cheap for a reason. Also, check what is included in the price, such as refreshments and lunch.
All courses booked through We Do Training include all materials, textbooks, certificates and registration.
Look at reviews from previous attendees of the course provider to gauge whether they are right for you. Where the tutors helpful? Were previous delegates happy with their training?
While this may not be a deciding factor in your choice of SSSTS course provider, it is always a good idea to read the cancellation policy for your provider if you think there may be a chance you have to reschedule.
Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme Refresher (SSSTS-R)
Once you have passed the SSSTS course, you must take the SSSTS refresher course every 5 years to keep your accreditation valid. The SSSTS refresher covers any changes in health and safety legislation as well as teaching changes in health and safety best practice.
Health and safety is constantly changing, which is one of the reasons the refresher course is necessary as well as compulsory. New material which the refresher course covers includes:
- Control of subcontractors
- CoSHH, Noise and Vibration assessment
- Health issues
- Overview of environmental legislation
Again, the refresher course is assessed using a mixture of group assessment and an examination made up of multiple-choice questions, as well as image and written based questions and answers.
The refresher course lasts for only one day.
After reading this guide, hopefully We Do Training has given you a full understanding of the SSSTS course; who is it for, what it includes and how to find the best course provider.
Regulations and legislation are always changing and adjusting so it is important that you keep up-to-date and in the know when it comes to health and safety in the workplace.
The SSSTS training course is a great place to start gaining a deeper understanding of your health and safety responsibilities as a site supervisor.