Ventilation, protective equipment and appropriate guarding are some of the measures businesses should consider as Britain’s workplace regulator is carrying out inspections to protect the respiratory health of workers.

From April, health and safety inspectors across Great Britain will be visiting business within woodworking industries such as sawmilling, manufacture of composite boards, and carpentry, as well as other industries where wood dust exposure can occur.

Woodworking industries have the potential for high incidence rates of occupational asthma and work-aggravated asthma caused by worker exposure to inadequately controlled wood dust in the workplace.

Inspectors will be looking for evidence that employers have considered the control measures required to reduce workers exposure to wood dust, that workers understand the risks of exposure to wood dust, and effective control measures have been put in place to protect workers from harm. Inspectors will take enforcement action when necessary to make sure workers are protected.

HSE’s head of manufacturing David Butter said: “Around 12,000 workers died last year from lung diseases linked to past exposure from work, with thousands more cases of ill-health and working days lost. Wood dust can cause serious health problems. It can cause asthma, which carpenters and joiners are four times more likely to get compared with other UK workers, as well as nasal cancer. Our campaign aims to help businesses whose workers cut and shape wood to take action now to protect their workers’ respiratory health.

“Through visiting wood working businesses, our inspectors are able to speak to a range of dutyholders and look at the measures they have in place to comply with the guidance and protect workers from respiratory diseases such as occupational asthma and nasal cancer.  

“Businesses can act now to ensure they are complying with the law by ensuring the control of wood dust at source by fitting and using extraction on machines.  Ensuring they fit and use guards on machines to protect fingers and hands and ensure those that use the machine to understand the risks and how to control them. Checking that guards are well adjusted will minimise danger and ensure that dust capture remains effective.

“Our inspection initiative aims to ensure employers and workers are aware of the risks associated with the activities they do. They must recognise these dangers and manage these risks through reducing exposure. Dutyholders need to do the right thing, for example, through completing a risk assessment, ensuring workers are trained, appropriate guarding is fitted and adjusted correctly, and reducing exposure using local exhaust ventilation (LEV) and using suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) to protect workers, where required.”

For the latest advice and guidance visit

As reported on HSE Media.

SMSTS Course

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme is commonly referred to as the SMSTS course and forms part of the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) Site Safety Plus suite of courses.

The Site Safety Plus (SSP) suite of courses provide for key training across a range of roles within the construction, building and civil engineering sectors.

The SSP suite of courses are aimed as specific roles:

These qualifications were created by the CITB to establish and set clear industry wide standards for the management of health and safety across all construction sites within the United Kingdom.

Aim of the SMSTS Training course

The aim of the SMSTS training course is to impart; in-depth knowledge, best practice and the relevant skills required for everyone who is currently working as a construction site manager, or is aspiring to do so.

Hence if you are a; construction site manager, project manager, contracts manager or a site supervisor looking to step up, undertaking the SMSTS course it will assist you in understanding current legislation and best practice enabling you to fullfill your role more effectively, particularly with regard to: planning, controlling, organising, monitoring and administering your staff in a safe manner on a construction site.

Entry Requirements for the SMSTS course

Whilst there are no formal entry requirements for the SMSTS courses as it is aimed at managers, individuals wishing to undertake the course are expected to be competent in the English language – both spoken and written.  Previous health and safety knowledge and experience is also recommended.

Individuals should of course either already be operating as a site manager or about to adopt a site manager role.

Length of the SMSTS course

The SMSTS is a five (5) day tutor led course that can be undertaken in the; classroom or remotely online.

Requirement for SMSTS Training

Whilst there is no specific legal requirement for construction site managers to hold the SMST qualification, it is endorsed by BuildUK and the majority of construction sites within the UK will require their site managers to have it and to have obtained a CSCS Black Managers Card.

Difficulty Level of the SMSTS Training Course

The SMSTS is not overly difficult although as with all courses it can prove challenging particularly if you have additional responsibilities such as work and family to provide for.

You must attend all five days of the course and throughout you will be actively encouraged to engage and participate in the course excercises and share your own experiences of working on a construction site.

The written examination is undertaken on the last day of the course and consists of 18 multiple choice and 7 short answer questions (25 in total), it must be completed within 35 minutes and the pass mark is 81%.

It is stongly suggested that you set aside time for revision in preperation for the exam particularly if you have not undertaken any form of training/examination in the recent past.

SMSTS Certification

The SMSTS course is certified for a period of five (5) years upon its successful completion and it demonstrates to employers that you have met the qualification standard required to operate as a construction site manager.

As the certificate is time limited there is a requirement for individuals to retrain periodically (every 5 years) in order to stay certified.  Re-certification can be achieved through the completion of the shorter SMSTS Refresher course which can be completed in two (2) days.  The refresher is specifically aimed at those individuals who have previously successfully undertaken the SMSTS course.  This shorter course must however be undertaken prior to the expiry of original certification (5 years).

CSCS Black Card

In isolation successful completion of the SMSTS course is not sufficient to qualify an individual for a site managers Black CSCS Card.  Individuals must also:

a. Pass the CITB Health, Safety & Environment Test – at the appropriate level i.e. managers and professionals

b. Successfully completed a relevant Level 5, 6 or 7 NVQ i.e. construction management

You can undertake a relevant NVQ at the appropriate level with Goldcross.

Where can I take the SMSTS Training course

Goldcross Training provide a number of methods by which this course can be undertaken: on block, over weekends, through day release, in the classroom and online.  Why not give one of our training assistants a call to discuss your options on: 0203 6335505 or book directly here.





While there are challenges ahead for the sector, which is set to grow by a quarter of million workers in the next four years, the construction industry will provide more opportunities for British workers, as the number of migrant workers falls, CITB’s annual Migration Survey showed.

Among the findings, 41% of employers will look to increase the skills of British workers, almost a third (30%) will provide more permanent jobs for Brits, a quarter (24%) will increase minimum salaries, and 16% will look to take on more local apprentices.

While employers reported a fall in the number of migrant employees, there was a rise in the number of self-employed migrants working for the industry.

While only 16% of companies expect that issues with migrant workers not remaining in the UK will impact their firm, almost three-quarters (72%) expect it to impact on the sector, with a quarter (27%) anticipating a serious impact.

Supporting the sector

CITB will support the sector in meeting the challenges of Covid-19 and Brexit with investments over the next five years including 28,000 taster experiences of construction, 19,000 on-site experiences to help prepare students, working with Government on a new construction traineeship to get more FE learners into jobs and apprenticeships and increasing the number of apprentices completing their training.

While the report showed that most employers reported no change in their number of migrant workers over the last year, 13% reported a fall in employing them, and only 2% a rise.

The largest fall (41%) was among those employing non-UK workers indirectly (ie. self-employed). Just over a tenth of the construction workforce are migrants, with the proportion falling from 10.7% in 2018 to 10.2% – a drop of about 5% in two years – with most coming from the EU.

The number of employers dependent on migrant workers has fallen slightly (from 15% in 2019 to 13%). While those directly employing migrants (ie. as staff) fell by 11%, the number of firms indirectly employing migrants rose by the same number.

One concerning trend was the lack of understanding among companies of how post-Brexit settlement empowers them to retain staff, with less than one in ten (9%) saying they understood it well.

The chief reasons for this included a primary focus on Covid-19, the belief that their firm will not suffer due to a low number of migrant workers, and waiting for further clarity on Brexit and preparing to act afterwards.

A ‘critical time’

Steve Radley, director of strategy and policy at CITB, said: “Construction faces a number of challenges over the next few years, among them declining numbers of migrant workers, as Covid has seen more workers leave the country and with a new tighter migration system.

“Employers expect to provide more jobs for British workers but for some occupations and employers, this is already proving challenging with order books growing, particularly in housing and infrastructure.

“The government has made some important commitments such as reforming FE, introducing construction traineeships and increasing access to unused apprenticeship levy funding.

“It’s vital that we work together to ensure these deliver the skills construction needs. It’s also critical that employers understand the new points-based system and have confidence it will respond quickly where there are pressures on key skills.”

As reported on PCBToday

There is growing evidence in business of the returns from investment in workplace safety and health.  For example the International Social Security Association, estimates a 120 per cent dividend, and the ratio is even higher for return-to-work programmes for people following injury or illness.

Organisations that invest in health and safety are seeing a positive impact on their workers’ effectiveness and a range of business benefits, such as a positive, caring work culture, increased productivity and an enhanced reputation. These employers are also mitigating the risk of huge costs to their organisation and society as a whole of poor health and safety at work – a recent report estimated the total cost to society of a workplace fatality in Britain at nearly £1.7 million.

In 2019–20, IOSH partnered with market research specialists YouGov to survey mainly small and medium-sized businesses, excluding any sole traders, on their approach to ensuring their managers have the knowledge, skills and understanding to manage their teams safely.

Participants agreed (96 per cent) that: Line managers are important in ensuring the people they directly line manage are safe and healthy, in the workplace.  That being said one in five participants (19 per cent), and predominantly SMEs (companies with up to 250 employees), said they had no form of health and safety training at all for their line managers.

There is a natural hierarchy in organisations that gets more defined the more employees an organisation has and co-workers at each tier of a business have an important role to play in creating work culture that protects its people. In smaller organisations (companies) directors and or managers can find themselves fulfilling many management roles and responsibilities across this hierarchy.

A truism however in all organisations, no matter their size, is that ‘responsibility for risk’ lies with the decision makers.  Those who decide on workplace design, the equipment provided, how it is to be used (systems of work) and how well people are to be educated to do the tasks safely (safe people), are managers. It is fundamental: the decisions of every manager influence the safety, health and welfare of all. They must take ownership for this.  The final accountability lies with Directors, so organisational structure and delegated authorities are an important aspect of this picture.

Whether they are a director, middle manager or first line supervisor, all are taking daily decisions that affect the health, safety and welfare of employees, contractors, suppliers, customers and even the public.  These are not the same responsibilities but related to the responsibility of their role and hierarchical position.  The nature of their responsibility is different for each.  To be efficient and effective they all require a knowledge about health and safety risk, and its control.  Get it wrong and it’s costly.  Get it right and it can bring brand, reputation, productivity and even investment benefits.

Competence is the key to running any business well or performing in any role with confidence and skill.  Knowledge results from experience, but too often it’s the school of hard knocks that delivers this learning and when it comes too health and safety that usually means someone has been harmed, which is morally unforgivable.  Good health and safety training can boost knowledge to a level that not only facilitates prevention of accidents but also drives business benefits.  The problem is that a lack of health and safety knowledge reduces confidence and often results in needlessly stringent controls being implemented that can introduce unhelpful bureaucracy and diminish business performance. The right training can help find the happy balance ……….. Delivering a safe operation with healthy employees is simple when you know how…

Here at Goldcross Training we are specialists in the delivery of the IOSH Managing Safely course so why not give us a call to see how we can help you improve your health and safety knowledge and assist you in driving your business forward.

You can read the full IOSH/YouGov report here.

As we enter our third period of ‘lockdown’ we thought it might be useful to refresh your memories with regard to ‘remote learning’ after all most schools are now delivering it.

When the Coronavirus pandemic first hit the country back in March 2020 most of industry including vocational training establishments and schools came to a grinding halt.  Over the months that followed, whilst some restrictions were lifted many remained in place limiting face to face contact and tuition.  As a result, what was at the time a relatively little used or known concept, ‘remote learning’ became increasingly popular, particularly as a result of improvements in video conferencing services such as Zoom and MS Teams which facilitated the capability.

Goldcross Training were leaders in this field and having embraced the technology available we rapidly developed systems in order to allow us to provide our customers the opportunity to continue to undertake the necessary mandatory training and hence continue working.

So, What is Remote learning?

Remote learning (often called: virtual learning and or online training) is quite simply training or teaching provided live in an online environment.  Here at Goldcross we utilise the Zoom platform which enables our trainers to deliver course content in a very similar manner to which they would do in the classroom.  The Zoom platform provides for all delegates to be connected via video link with the instructor.  This facilitates a good level of interaction and the undertaking of training activities such as quizzes and toolbox talks are just as they would be in the classroom.

How does it work?

Once an individual delegate signs up for a remote learning course they will receive their course joining instructions in the normal manner. The joining instructions provide all of the necessary detail required by the delegate such as course dates, timings, etc.

All required course materials, such as books, will be provided as a PDF or direct download depending on the type of course being undertaken.

The delegate will then be emailed a link directly by their tutor which will contain the ‘Meeting ID’, their ‘Pass Code’ and the time that they will be required to join the meeting (training session).

Once delegates are ‘logged in’ they will as normal be required to show the required form of identification to their tutor prior to the start of the initial training session.

Do I still have to undertake an Exam on a Remote Learning course?

Delegates will be required to complete the necessary exams and assessments as specified by the appropriate awarding body.

This is commonly provided for through the use of an online form (exam template) that delegates complete under the invigilation of their tutor using the webcam facility provided on the Zoom Platform.

Are Remote Learning Courses Accredited in the same Way?

All of our accrediting bodies: CITB, NEBOSH & IOSH have approved the course’s we offer through remote learning.  As a result all delegates that successfully undertake training in this way will receive exactly the same certificate that they would if they had undertaken classroom-based training.

What Hardware do I Require?

Delegates need to ensure that they have appropriate access to the use of a functional: desktop computer, laptop/notebook or IPad/Tablet for the duration of the course.  The hardware utilised must also have a built-in or supplementary webcam and a microphone.  We do not recommend the use of mobile phones.

They must of course also have access to the internet.

Why should I do Remote Learning?

There is no definitive requirement for the majority of delegates to undertake remote learning most have the opportunity to choose the type of training they wish to undertake.  It really does come down to personal choice and whilst there are clearly some advantages to remote learning these must also be balanced against what some delegates consider to be disadvantages:


  • No commute required –  saves time and money.
  • Convenient & Comfort – You can undertake the training dressed as you wish in an environment of your choice, even down to the chair you sit in.
  • Home environment may be less stressful (not always the case however particularly if you have young children at home) – For many delegates going back to the classroom can be rather intimidating.
  • Teaches time management and new learning/social skills – time management skills are essential to remote learning as they are in every aspect of life.  The use of new/modern technologies also enhances your existing learning skills, many of us will not have studied in any meaningful way since we left fulltime education or were mandated to undertake specific classroom based training.
  • Cost Savings – eliminates the costs associated with commuting, hotel accommodation and meals
  • Eco-friendly – remote learning provides an alternative to paper-based learning and students don’t have to travel to and from lectures, meaning the CO2 emissions are reduced substantially.


  • Lack of Social Interaction – Learning in a ‘bricks-and-mortar’ training establishment presents delegates with the opportunity to meet and interact with people from different locations on a personal level.  All of whom are normally focused on successfully completing the training they are undertaking.  Though delegates can interact through: chat rooms, discussion boards, emails and the Zoom platform directly, the experience cannot be compared to that of a traditional training establishment.
  • Opportunity for Distraction – remote learning may not be a good option for delegates who procrastinate over things or those who aren’t able to stick to deadlines.  If you are undertaking the training at home and have a young family you will need to be able to segregate yourself from them and their needs, whilst the training is taking place. Note: If you are undertaking the training at work you can face similar issues albeit through the needs of colleagues/management.
  • New (Complicated) Technology – this learning method requires access to current and functional technologies throughout the course.  Whilst younger delegates may be very familiar with the hardware and software requirements some delegates could struggle through their unfamiliarity with the technologies in use.

What courses do Golcross deliver via Remote Learning?

All of our CITB site safety plus courses can be attended online via Remote Learning including:

CITB Health & Safety Awareness


SSSTS Refresher


SMSTS Refresher

Additionally we are also providing IOSH Managing Safely via Remote Learning.

Site Safety Plus certificate expiry

During the COVID-19 crisis, CITB provided a grace period for delegates whose SMSTS/SSSTS achievement had expired after 15 March 2020. The last updated grace period allowed delegates who were unable to access a refresher course before their certificate expired until the 30 November 2020 to join onto a SSSTS / SMSTS refresher, instead of having to sit the full course.

Due to uncertainty around local and national lockdowns and the fast approaching shutdown for the Christmas period, the CITB took the decision to extend this grace period further to support those delegates who have been unable to access the relevant refresher course.

All delegates now have until 31 January 2021 to join a SSSTS/SMSTS refresher course, if their current certificate expired after the 15 March 2020.

It is important to note that this grace period will not be extended any further, so we would advise that all delegates take this opportunity to attend the appropriate refresher course to avoid the need to attend the full course again.

With more than 3,500 builders dying each year from cancers related to their work and with thousands more cases of ill-health and working days lost, the HSE is launching its latest construction health initiative.  HSE safety inspectors will be targeting construction sites across Great Britain during the month of October.

The initiative will run from Monday 5 – Friday 30 October and the focus will be on respiratory risks not surprisingly however as a critical health risk COVID security will also be covered by the initiative.

The purpose of this initiative is twofold:

(i) To support HSE’s continuing strategy to improve the health of construction workers.
(ii) To align with the wider government agenda to get people back to workplaces safely and so support economic recovery.

Throughout the initiative Health and safety inspectors across Great Britain will be targeting construction firms with inspections to check that their health standards are up to scratch.

As in previous years these inspections will focus on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease; looking at the measures businesses have put in place to protect their workers’ lungs from the likes of asbestos, silica and wood dust. This is part of HSE’s longer term health and work strategy to improve health within the construction industry.

While the primary focus will be on health during this programme of inspections, if a HSE inspector identifies any other areas of concern, they will take the necessary enforcement action to deal with them. This will include making sure that businesses are doing all they can to protect their workers from the risk of coronavirus and make workplaces COVID-secure.

Inspectors will also be looking for evidence of employers and workers knowing the risks, planning their work and using the right controls. If necessary, they will use enforcement to make sure people are protected.

The construction initiative will be supported by HSE’s ‘Dustbuster’ campaign, aimed to influence employer behaviour by encouraging builders to download free guidance and advice, increasing knowledge and capability to protect workers’ health.

Inspectors will also be looking for evidence of employers and workers knowing the risks, planning their work and using the right controls. If necessary, they will use enforcement to make sure people are protected.

The construction initiative will be supported by HSE’s ‘Dustbuster’ campaign and aimed to influence employer behaviour by encouraging builders to download free guidance and advice, increasing knowledge and capability to protect workers’ health.

HSE’s chief inspector of construction, Sarah Jardine, said: “Around 100 times as many workers die from diseases caused or made worse by their work than are actually killed in construction accidents.

“Our inspection initiatives ensure that inspectors are able to speak to dutyholders and visit sites to look at the kind of action businesses in the construction industry are taking right now to protect their workers’ health, particularly when it comes to exposure to dust and damage to lungs.

“There are a few simple things that everyone can do to make sure they are protecting their health and their future. Be aware of the risks associated with activities you do every day, recognise the dangers of hazardous dust and consider how it can affect your health. We want businesses and their workers to think of the job from start to finish and avoid creating dust by working in different ways to keep dust down and wear the right mask and clothing.”

For more details on managing construction related health risks visit the HSE website here.


During the Covid-19 Crisis –

The HSE permitted First aid certificate extensions in a number of circumstances i.e. if you held a a first aid certificate that expired on or after 16 March 2020 and could not access requalification training because of coronavirus, you may have qualified for an extension. This applied to:

  • Offshore Medic (OM)
  • Offshore First Aid (OFA)
  • First Aid at Work (FAW)
  • Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW)

To qualify for the extension, you must have been able to:

  • explain why you weren’t been able to requalify
  • demonstrate what steps you have taken to access the training, if asked to do so

Current Requalification Training Requirements in England

The first aid training industry in England is now confident that enough courses are now available for all required requalification training to take place. HSE has therefore agreed a final deadline for requalification for these qualifications of 30 September 2020.

If because of coronavirus your training was interupted and you were unable to complete the training for your first aid qualification within the usual certification timeframe, training can restart at a later date as long as:

  • a full recap of any training delivered prior to the Covid-19 interruption is undertaken prior to moving onto undelivered modules
  • the awarding body is content that you can show:
    • a full understanding of all aspects of the course content
    • the knowledge required and competencies at the end of the training

Requalification training in Scotland and Wales

It is accepted that training capacity in Scotland and Wales, and for some parts of the emergency services across Great Britain, might take longer to build.

The deadline for completing requalification training in Scotland and Wales (and in relevant GB emergency services), will therefore be reviewed by HSE over the coming months. Employers or certificate holders should still try to arrange requalification training at the earliest opportunity.

Annual refresher training

If first aiders are unable to access annual refresher training face to face during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, HSE supports the use of online refresher training to keep their skills up to date.

The HSE however still strongly recommends that the practical elements of the actual FAW, EFAW and requalification courses are delivered face to face, so that competency of the student can be properly assessed.

If you are working on the highway in any capacity then you should be aware that the new ‘Passport’ scheme has now gone live and that it may well impact you in some capacity, particularly if you operate in the construction sector.

The new highways passport scheme went live on the 01st August 2020 and anybody working under the control of a Principal Contractor for a Highways England funded project or scheme (online and offline) who would normally receive a project or scheme induction in accordance with CDM 2015 will be required to utilise it, although there are currently a few exemptions such as: delivery drivers, maintenance personel, etc at this time.

The scheme which has been fully endorsed by Highways England and the Supply Chain Safety Leadership Group, has been brought into force by ‘Reference Point and Mitie’ – the companies behind Network Rail’s Sentinel Safety Solution and service and HS2’s Validate Safety Scheme.

The aim of the scheme is to:

  • Create Safer Sites
  • Reduce Risk
  • Create Effeciencies and Cost Savings

whilst providing a powerful, comprehensive and feature packed mobile workforce management solution.

It will deliver a single smart solution for the highways workforce; transforming how the competency of those working on the road network is assured and consistently improve standards within the industry.  The scheme claims to utilise trusted and improved technologies to both capture and deliver real-time information enabling workforces to be more effective and safe whilst on site.

Workers will be required to carry a smartcard that will be linked to the ‘passport’ database which in turn will provide a single and transferable real-time competence record, that can be checked daily confirming each workers ability to work in real time.  The system will cover induction training and all other skills, licences and competencies held by an individual allowing training to be aimed at the right individuals at the right time whilst also allowing individuals to confirm their competencies through the presentation of their card.

A spokesman for ‘Reference Point’ (the providers of the SkillGuard system) stated that there are also plans in place to discuss the linking of the scheme with the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card software – so watch this space!

Further details with regard to how it may impact you as an individual or a company can be found here!


As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, businesses and individuals in all sectors are facing the challenges of resuming business head on.  The maintenance of social distancing guidelines and the implementation of the necessary health and safety measures will be extremely challenging, which is one of the primary reasons we introduced our own online course options.

For many this will be a relief however we recognise that for some, particularly for those who have been furloughed without full pay and those that have lost their jobs/contracts, this will be an extremely difficult period.

So, we thought it was time to run a free competition to lighten the load just a little.

The prize

We are offering the chance to win a £399 Goldcross Training voucher – the voucher can be used in a variety of different ways i.e. you can take one course or you can take multiple courses (up to the value of the voucher) and you can spend it on either ‘online’ or ‘classroom’ based training.

Importantly you don’t have to be an existing Goldcross customer, the competition is open to all – so whether you are:

  1. An existing; tradesman, specialist, operative, labourer or first aider
  2. Someone who is thinking of entering the; construction, rail, engineering or safety related sectors

this may be an ideal opportunity for you to cover your current training expenses or perhaps take those first steps in gaining the required qualifications to enter a new industry/sector.

How can You win?

All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is:

  • Like the Goldcross Training ‘Facebook Page’ (note page not post, but happy with both if you wish)  – visit:
  • Scroll down the page to the one of our recent competition posts
  • Share the post and ‘tag’ two friends in the comments section of the post.

Good Luck!

Terms and Conditions

The voucher will valid for 12 months and the winner will be announced on 31st July.

The voucher can only be redeemed against a Goldcross Training provided training course.

The voucher has no redeemable ‘cash value’ and can only be redeemed by the named winner of the competition.