I propose to take Questions Nos. 1002, 1010, 1011 and 1012 together.
Safe Pass, Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) and Quarrying Skills Certification Scheme (QSCS) courses were included in Phase 2 of the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business and restarted on 11th June 2020 under strictly controlled Covid-19 precaution measures (SOLAS’ Standard Operational Pandemic Containment Guidelines).
Given the continuation of construction services within the Level 5 restrictions announced on the 19th October 2020 the operation of Safe Pass training and assessment is continuing subject to the stringent operating procedures which permitted their re-opening in June 2020. 3,131 persons have undertaken CSCS and QSCS training and 34,034 Safe Pass cards have issued between the 11th June and 31st October.
To support the continued operation of the construction sector following the initial shutdown of the certification schemes in March to June 2020, The Minister of State at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) introduced a legislative provision in March which extends the validity of Safe Pass cards(with an expiry date after the 1st March) to the end of the Covid-19 emergency period. This provision remains in force at the current time, however workers with expired cards are advised to renew their cards as soon as possible to prevent a significant backlog accruing with 43,466 cards with an expiry date after the 1st March not yet renewed.
The continued delivery of certification schemes to support health and safety in the construction sector during the Covid-19 period is vital and SOLAS is actively examining alternative delivery methods to identify a solution that is equitable with existing Safe Pass course delivery, in being accessible to all eligible workers, providing real time course participant supports and ensuring assessment integrity.
The criteria for Safe Pass tutor approval is determined by a tripartite collaborative arrangement comprising construction sector stakeholders and social partners in consultation with SOLAS. The Safe Pass tutor is open to anyone who wishes to apply, as long as they comply with the eligibility and approval criteria, as no deviation can be accommodated. A guide to the Safe Pass tutor application criteria and process is attached.
In respect of the price being charged for Safe Pass courses, course fees are determined by the Approved Training Organisations (ATOs) who are independent commercial entities. The maximum number of participants that can attend a Safe Pass course was reduced from twenty to ten participants in line with SOLAS’ Standard Operational Pandemic Containment Guidelines to allow for the re-opening of the sector. There is also a €32 fee payable to SOLAS for the processing, manufacturing and distribution of Safe Pass cards which is unchanged and is generally included in the overall price for attending a course.