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Confidential reporting scheme will help air structural safety concerns

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Launch of the pilot phase of the Confidential Reporting on Structural Safety scheme (CROSS) was hailed as a large step forward in identifying safety issues in the industry.

It will allow anyone in the construction industry to report safety concerns in confidence, with the aim of providing systematic feedback and alerts to the industry.

The pilot was announced to coincide with the publication of the latest two-yearly report of the Standing Committee on Structural Safety. SCOSS floated the idea of the pilot scheme in its last report.

SCOSS Secretary John Carpenter said the initiative had gained wide support from industry, the professional institutions and government, including the Department of Trade & Industry, Office of the Deputy Prime minister, the Scottish Executive and the Health and Safety Executive.

CROSS allows people to report safety concerns in a standard format. Mr Carpenter said CROSS is not a “whistle-blowing” scheme. The names of people making reports and the projects or companies involved would not be revealed at any stage. Anonymous contributions would not be permitted.

The Director of CROSS, Dr Alastair Soane, will review contributions and will be the only person to know the names of those involved. ‘De-identified’ data – purely technical details, with all names removed – will be made available to SCOSS. If a concern seems to recur or if a pattern or trend seems to be emerging, “we will determine whether we need to advise the industry about it,” said Mr Carpenter. This could involve taking the issue up with other industry bodies as necessary and preenting the information on the website.

Funding for the pilot is being provided by the DTI, Scottish Executive, the HSE and the Institutions of Civil and Structural Engineers.

The professional engineering institutions need to develop systems for validating continuing professional development of their members. This is one of the main recommendations of the SCOSS report, published last month. 

“An institution which has a professional membership should have some kind of validation that someone in their forties or fifties is maintaining their competence as necessary,” said Secretary John Carpenter. The IStructE asks members to complete annual CPD returns, but only 40% do so. Organisations such as the Institution of Occupational Health and Safety require members to complete CPD returns and carry out random audits on 10% of them.

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