About the Scheme

CPCS is an Industry Scheme developed by Industry for the Industry.

The Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) provides skills cards for the plant sector of the Construction and allied industries. It was launched in 2003 and since then over 300,000 cards have been issued across 60 categories of plant and related occupations.  The CPCS Management Committee continually review and amend the Scheme in the light of on-going Industry feedback, and external factors such latest occupational health issues, technology advances and new plant types is where the Scheme has undertaken such amendments

We maintain our focus on ensuring that the Scheme is centred on the principles of independent, rigorous assessment of operating ability and for assurance of for competence assurance, raising of standards expected in the plant sector. We continue to reserve ways to allow individuals to maintain or re-apply for expired cards, and providing extensions whilst working towards competency.

With on-going changes come on-going challenges and we look forward to continuing work with Industry and our Test Centres to ensure that the Scheme further contributes to establishing a competent, safe and efficient plant industry.

CPCS is owned by the Construction Industry Training Board (otherwise known as CITB) which allocates staff to manage and administer it on behalf of the CPCS Management Committee that develops its policy and strategy.

The Management Committee is made up from representatives of the industry that use the plant and equipment covered by the Scheme, including the following organisations:

  • Armed Forces (HM Forces)
  • Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA)
  • Construction Plant-Hire Association (CPA)
  • CITB Northern Ireland
  • Federation of Piling Specialists (FPS)
  • Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
  • Home Builders Federation (HBF)
  • Lantra Awards
  • Mineral Products Qualifications Council (MPQC)
  • National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC)
  • Scottish Plant Owners Association (SPOA)
  • Build UK
  • Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT)
  • Unite the Union

CPCS aims to:

  • provide identification for plant operators and those involved with plant operations by recognising skills, knowledge and understanding, competence and qualifications
  • raise health, safety and environment standards through a programme of Health, safety and environment testing to prove workers have met minimum standards
  • provide standards of learning and assessment to equip individuals with relevant skills and knowledge to seek employment within industry
  • provide or improve employment prospects for individuals and experienced operators
  • keep a record of workers in the construction and allied industries who have achieved a recognised level of operating ability and competence, and to provide a means of identification
  • be self-financing; with any surplus funds being used for the benefit of the construction industry
  • encourage construction and allied employers to use certificated and competent plant operators
  • provide certification for UK workers that could be accepted in Europe through agreements with other European national schemes to mutually recognise qualifications.

The Scheme provides certification for plant operators and associated operations for UK construction and allied industries. The plant operator certification process is supported by CPCS Testers, who in turn are certificated as trained and competent by CPCS.

Membership of the Scheme is voluntary, but is mandatory on many construction sites and in other work environments.

Compliance with the contents of this Scheme Booklet is a requirement for members of the Scheme (individuals holding a CPCS Card).

There are no age requirements for Scheme membership. However, in some cases legislation or company policy regarding the use of plant or equipment may specify different age limits for a specific working environment. This may result in the cardholder being prevented from using that plant or equipment.

Basic skills and understanding, and competency standards are defined by the Scheme for:

  • plant operators
  • slinger/signallers
  • individuals securing plant and equipment to vehicles/trailers for transportation
  • individuals planning and controlling lifting operations.

A wide range of construction plant and equipment is covered by CPCS, and new plant and equipment is continually added at the request of industry. The categories currently covered, or that will be covered, by CPCS are listed in Appendix A.

A category is defined as:

an item of plant or equipment used within the construction industry in accordance with the manufacture’s basic design, or

an agreed duty or occupation involving plant operations, e.g. Appointed Person.

Certain categories have endorsements. Endorsements are sub-categories that reflect the variation in a category, for example, by weight, size, capacity or application. Endorsements will be defined as either:

  • separate – as each endorsement will be inscribed separately on a CPCS Card, or
  • senior – as only the higher or senior endorsement will be inscribed on a CPCS Card.

Categories within CPCS are derived through employer consultation and relevant national occupational standards, and are subject to continual review to ensure the Scheme meets employers’ needs.

Subject-specific Technical Advisory Groups meet to review current learning and assessment criteria, and develop learning and assessment standards when new categories are being introduced.

CPCS works closely with many federations, organisations, plant users, other plant certification schemes, CPCS Testers as well as the Health and Safety Executive to ensure that the standards for plant categories are relevant, up-to-date and realistic.

The Scheme adheres to Codes of Practice, British Standards and other sector-led guidance documents for many items of plant. CPCS works closely with Sector Skills Councils and specialist plant certification schemes, and continually contributes to industry-led and produced codes of practice and guidance documents. CPCS follows the principles and requirements of BS EN 17024 – General Requirements for Bodies Operating Certification of Persons.

CPCS has been recognised as an exemplar scheme by a Health and Safety commissioned report on routes to competence in the construction sector. This report was independently researched by PYE Tait, an established research organisation, who reviewed competence processes, certificating bodies and card schemes in order to gauge their effectiveness in both delivering and ensuring competence for occupations within the construction sector. The research looked at the effect over the previous ten years where the sector had implemented many health and safety initiatives based on the Revitalising Health and Safety strategy of 2001; which further led to the origins of CPCS. The report noted that there needs to be further emphasis on situational awareness and the sustaining of appropriate behaviours and CPCS is working with bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive to incorporate these finding into assessment.

Delivery Standards are continually monitored by dedicated staff employed by CITB to ensure national standards are applied. The Scheme acknowledges that flexibility is needed in some instances; however, deviations from test and assessment standards can only be approved by the monitoring and technical teams, and in many cases through prior consultation with the relevant technical advisory group and/or consultation with the employer organisation.

As the manager of CPCS, the Scheme falls within the umbrella of CITB, a Sector Skills Council and Industrial Training Board which is tasked, amongst others, with ensuring that skills gaps and shortages are reduced and that occupational skills and understanding are improved. The Scheme plays its part in ensuring those goals are reached.

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