Interior Design and the CSCS debate 2nd March 2015 | IN DESIGN ADVICE | BY SBID

The CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) was set up to increase working standards on UK construction sites, and possession of CSCS cards is fast becoming the industry norm for UK construction sites and industry staff; many sites operating on a no card, no access basis.

As an interior designer specializing in spatial planning and redesign of commercial interiors, my team and I spend a reasonable amount of time on construction sites working alongside CSCS qualifying trades (contractors, architects, M&E, plumbers, joiners etc.) Many of these “trades” work from our drawings and are supervised by us.

Believing we should also hold CSCS cards, I set about the application process – and fell at the first hurdle. Which card to actually apply for, as none of the categories seemed to include Interior Designers, what we did whilst on site, or even our contribution to the design and construction process?

Several months and emails to CSCS later I was no nearer finding the answer. In the absence of clarification I decided to apply for the Red Experienced Technician’s Card. Having decided on the card then came the question of which test to take. Back to CSCS I went.
This time CSCS told me they had received several enquiries from interior designers (probably half of them from me) and the CSCS Board were now going to make a decision.

Then came the surprising and, I think, disappointing news:

“After a recent meeting CSCS Ltd have decided not to include the occupation of Interior Design as one of the acceptable titles for an Academically Qualified Persons CSCS Card”

A CSCS Card demonstrates the holder has the skills required to work well in their trade and also possesses Health and Safety knowledge needed to work safely. Working in the commercial sector Rachel McLane Ltd have been required to complete contractors compliance questionnaires. These always include examples of our risk assessments and method statements which are part of our standard working practices and are mandatory for site work and fit outs. Some of the larger developers also request copies of valid CSCS cards for site work.

The decision raises the question of why Designers who produce drawings, attend site and supervise the implementation by CSCS card holding trades do not meet the criteria for “An “Academically Qualified Persons CSCS Card”?

I can only think CSCS do not differentiate between types of “interior designer”. At one end Interior Designers like ourselves involved in spatial planning, redesign of building interiors and right through to fit out, to the other, Interior Designers who are responsible only for the soft furnishings and furniture.
Meanwhile in lieu of a CSCS card we will use the copy of the email from CSCS. I can only hope we don’t turn up at site and get refused access because we don’t hold a CSCS card.

It’s an interesting discussion. Do you believe Interior Designers and our contribution to the design, construction and interiors process qualify us as an academically qualified person? Do you think CSCS should reconsider their decision?

Written by Rachel McLane – Design Consultant & Founder at Rachel McLane Ltd