A problem shared is a problem… solved!

Richard Catt, ceo, CFA.

Richard suggests that the well-known proverb be slightly altered to: ‘a problem shared, if you’re a CFA member, can be a problem solved.

THERE’s an old proverb that suggests that a problem shared is a problem halved: that just talking about something can make us feel better and sometimes helps us see a solution. Indeed, it’s a maxim I generally subscribe to, particularly when the answer isn’t immediately obvious.

And so when a manufacturer member recently approached me and explained their technical representatives were sometimes experiencing difficulties getting on to main contractor sites, we discussed the problem and any options, but agreed there was currently no ideal solution.

A quick check around with other members and I found this was a growing problem and had links back to the yellow site visitors’ CSCS card.

As most reading this will recognise, for many technical representatives who work for smoothing and adhesive product manufacturers, visiting sites to carry out moisture testing is a common task. It therefore becomes an issue when they’re repeatedly being refused access.  

The yellow CSCS visitors’ card is in the process of being withdrawn, ie it’s no longer being issued or renewed. It’s been withdrawn because CSCS felt it potentially allowed someone to inappropriately gain access to site without the appropriate qualification to carry out a construction related operation.

Their guidelines are now quite specific: You’re visiting site to carry out a construction-related operation, for which you’ll need an appropriate CSCS card (and in turn hold a construction related national qualification) or you’re deemed a visitor.

The decision as to whether someone can visit a site now lies solely with the site manager. Going forward, as a visitor you’ll have a local site induction and will generally be escorted, but there’ll no longer be a CSCS card for that visitor category.

Historically, many technical representatives held yellow CSCS cards to allow them gain access to site for a range of purposes and often this was to carry out moisture testing: either an indicative test, or if appropriate drilling holes for the drill and plug method (as described in BS8201 and BS8203), or occasionally to position hygrometer boxes.

For the two latter types of testing, a return to site to take measurements is often required. Some technical representatives however were being refused access to site owing to the misinterpretation that drilling holes and installing a sleeve constituted a construction related operation and required a CSCS card.

CFA contested this as clearly there’s no construction-related qualification available for moisture testing. Having that understanding however still didn’t necessarily help a technical representative on days they needed immediate access, particularly if a site foreman used his discretion and turned them away.

The technical representative therefore needed some proof that they should be allowed onsite as a visitor and crucially, without a CSCS card.

The solution: we spoke to CSCS and presented evidence to support our case. After a little discussion, CSCS agreed the range of tasks undertaken by a ‘contract flooring – technical representative’ does not constitute construction-related operations and contract flooring technical representatives should indeed always be given access to site as a visitor (without the requirement of a CSCS card) to carry out their work.

In the event a representative is challenged, CSCS have added the role to a list of exempt occupations and tasks that are listed on the CSCS website. Thus, a technical representative should now always be able to gain access to site.

There are two pages on the CSCS website that apply to this and the links are below. The first provides a background to those occupations that have been approved as non-construction related, and the second a full list of the occupations that have been removed from the CSCS scheme. You’ll see there’s an entry for ‘contract flooring – technical representative’.

www.cscs.uk.com/applying-for-cards/non-construction-related-occupations/
www.cscs.uk.com/resource/cro-occupations-removed-from-the-scheme/

It’s thus that I’d like to suggest the proverb be slightly altered to ‘a problem shared, if you’re a CFA member, can be a problem solved’. And of course, CFA members get to know these little gems first through our monthly email newsletter.

One last thing: in speaking to different contacts of whom many have extensive experience, a recurring suggestion was to ask the flooring contractor to fit the sleeves for the drill-and-plug method in advance of a technical representative’s visit.

If the flooring contractor is already onsite, this can save time and therefore money, and eschews questions being raised about tools (a drill etc) being brought on to site and for what purpose. In the event that a flooring contractor cannot install the sleeves, I refer to plan A above.
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