Highways England urges contractors to join passport scheme

Highways England is encouraging more roadworkers to register for its new passport scheme.

About 600 companies have signed up for the Highways England passport scheme since it was introduced in 2017 with a price of £30 per card. The scheme was again relaunched with an upgrade to Version 5 on 1st August 2020.

Highways England wants more to sign up, especially those in the lower tiers of the supply chain. The system is designed to monitor the workforce on highway projects, keeping track of credentials, training record, qualifications and right to work.

Reference Point provides the data – this is the same company behind the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card software. Mitie holds and manages all of the data.

A revised ‘highways common induction’ is now being developed online and in 90 minutes covers the common risks faced when working on roads. Those who have completed this course then only need to focus on site specific safety briefings when they visit site. The induction is designed to be retaken every three years.

Alongside this training, a passport smartcard, to be renewed annually, will be issued to the individual who will be able to carry around their training record, qualifications and competency details in their pocket wherever they work.

Delivery of the training has been contracted to Lantra.

Highways England has avoided any tie-up with the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) favoured by major contractors. Big contractors require all their site workers to have a CSCS card, which involved going through a health & safety test that is totally unconnected to the Highways England common induction process.

Mark Byard, Highways England health & safety director said: “The Highways England passport scheme is all about ensuring consistency in training and competencies, making things more efficient and supporting our suppliers in the long term. The passport itself, a simple smartcard, provides proof of competencies and demonstrates that the holder has completed the Highways Common Induction. We are encouraging all our suppliers to register for their passport”.

An organisation called the Supply Chain Safety Leadership Group (SCSLG) has been involved in the evolution of the scheme. Phil Clifton its chairman said: “The scheme and induction have been revised and improved following extensive consultation to make it easier to use and suitable for all companies. Getting through proof of concept and moving to full implementation has only been possible by the supply chain and Highways England working together with the primary objective to drive up standards for safety. It takes all of us to create the environment to ensure a positive safety culture and I encourage everyone to register for their passport”.

Nick Holt, WJ North operations director is of the opinion that it is worth it. He said: “I’m extremely pleased with the Highways England passport scheme in the simpler online format. As a mostly tier two contractor, our operatives regularly go to many different sites and before the passport they would attend a full induction at each, despite all being very similar. Whereas now, they’ve done the highways common induction, they can just complete the shorter site-specific inductions before starting work, which is far more efficient. I believe this also enhances safety, as rather than losing concentration during a long induction they can focus on the specific issues they may face on different sites”.

For more information see: highwayspassport.co.uk