by Lee Jones
Considering the ongoing efforts to improve safety in our sector, the RIBA has launched a health and safety test. The aim of the test is to allow members of the architectural community to evaluate and demonstrate their competence in respect of personal health and safety knowledge, and their knowledge of safety in design. Particularly notable is the testing of knowledge in respect of fire safety in design.
The test itself is a multiple choice-style exam, split into two sections: ‘Personal’ and ‘Design’. Participants must answer 40 questions in total and answer a minimum of 90% of the questions correctly (18/20 minimum from each section) to pass. Having sat the test myself, the first thing to report is that it is quite robust. There are quite a few unexpected questions that could easily catch even seasoned professionals off-guard. It’s a great step in the fight to make the industry a more safety-conscious environment.
For construction product manufacturers, this test brings to light the need for broad knowledge in respect of the relevant areas, and by default brings opportunities to educate the RIBA members on various topics through CPD. Below is an overview of the two sections and the content that is covered within each.
Focusing heavily on-site safety, this section evaluates knowledge from a broad scope to ensure that the candidate is knowledgeable enough to protect themselves, their surroundings, and others who they interact with when visiting a site. It ranges from pre-site visit planning to proactively being prepared for safety, through to documentation for handling asbestos removal, general PPE requirements, site signage and what to do in the event of on-site emergencies.
Arguably, this is the section that will bring the most potential for manufacturers of construction products to assist RIBA members in their learning. There are questions concerning ways of advising clients on procedures and the appointment of principal designers. However, from a product perspective, below is a snapshot of the required knowledge areas, which are undoubtedly critical to ensuring that designers are designing safely:
- Building Regulations.
- COSHH (the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002).
- Fire classification of construction products.
- Fire prevention and extinguishing.
- Fire spread.
- Increasing client awareness.
- Risk mitigation.
- Third-party certification.
- Working at height.
What can manufacturers do to help?
Many construction product manufacturers will already be providing CPD to the design community. This is a great way of getting your brand in front of decision makers, but also goes a long way to build relationships. As CPD is educational and not a hard sell, it is far more accepted in approach by the design community. RIBA CPD Providers have the benefit of knowing that their CPD material has been assessed by the RIBA, ensuring that its educational content is high quality. In an NBS survey from 2019*, 75% of respondents stated that having CPD material assessed by the RIBA was important in ensuring the quality of the content, whilst 87% of those responding used RIBA-assessed CPD learning.
Furthermore, only RIBA-assessed CPDs offer double points to members. Considering that RIBA members must achieve 35 hours of CPD – totalling 100 points within each year – this is obviously a draw, and a clear positive for manufacturers delivering RIBA-assessed CPD material.
CPD is required across a broad spectrum (ten areas, in fact) from the RIBA core curriculum. However, the areas of focus in respect of safer design noted in this article will be high on the agenda, especially as they link to the new test.
What to do next?
If you are already providing CPD, maybe just considering delivering CPD or are completely new to it, the first piece of advice would be to look at ribacpd.com. Familiarise yourself with the topics from the core curriculum, and look at what other manufacturers are doing in respect of CPD.
CPD can be delivered in several ways – they are most commonly PowerPoint presentations delivered as online or in person seminars, however they can also be blogs, videos, podcasts, articles and even factory tours. For the manufacturer considering seminars, I would offer two key points of advice for a successful CPD:
- 1. Make the CPD engaging: Get the audience to interact with you by asking questions. Maybe do a little test at the end of each section. Whatever you are comfortable with but avoid just talking at your attendees for the whole seminar.
- 2. Consider a digital delivery: Manufacturers have always loved CPD as it gets them through the front door of the designer’s office. However, as good as this is, today we live in a much different world. The pandemic initially forced many designers to work remotely; however, as with the rest of the world, this has transformed into a blended approach as things are returning to some form of ‘normal’. Expect that many of the specifiers who you will interact with may still want to meet digitally through Zoom or Teams, etc. Ensure that the presentation is flexible enough that you can do it in person and online, so that it works in either scenario.
NBS works with the RIBA to deliver the RIBA CPD Providers Network. RIBA CPD accreditation is a highly coveted asset for manufacturers. Over 85% of RIBA Chartered Members and 75% of non-members are familiar with the CPD Providers Network logo and prefer it to any other CPD series*. This is due to the assurance of quality CPD content assessed and approved by the RIBA: a well-established and trusted brand. Furthermore, manufacturers joining the RIBA CPD Providers Network have the opportunity to attend exclusive events; the RIBA CPD Roadshows where you can deliver your CPD material to many RIBA members, and attend the RIBA CPD Providers Network forums for your own learning.
To find out more on how to become a member of the RIBA CPD Providers Network, get in touch with our team.
Find out how NBS can help you
Call us on: 0345 200 1056
Email us at: manufacturers@theNBS.com
*Source: NBS Research: RIBA CPD Providers Network Survey, 2019