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What is CISRS? Understanding the Role of CISRS


Reading time: 9 minutes


What does CISRS stand for?

CISRS stands for the Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme, which is the respected industry leader in certification, scaffolding safety and training for scaffold workers. For over 50 years, the construction industry has relied upon CISRS to train and certify scaffolding workers, contributing to an international standard of safety and professionalism.


As well as providing reassurance that a worker has had the correct training for their role, the CISRS scaffolding card scheme promotes safety within the industry, as well as assessing risk management and skill competence. Many large contractor companies and agencies insist that workers hold the appropriate level of CISRS card before they can be employed - both in the UK and abroad. The different CISRS card types quickly show an employee’s experience level, to make sure everyone on site holds the right card for their job and responsibilities.


CISRS Regulations in the UK

CISRS scaffolding cards are a simple way to show a worker’s competence and qualifications for their role. All cards can only be gained by passing a specific set of training courses for each experience level, as well as the HS&E (CITB Health, safety and Environment) Test. CISRS cards are split into four main colour grades:


  • Scaffolding labourer card (green card) - for supervised labourers not erecting scaffolding

  • Trainee scaffolder card (red card) - must be supervised by a competent person and working towards their blue card

  • Scaffolder card (blue card) - divided into two specialties, Tube & Fitting or System scaffolders, with both recognised as qualified scaffolders

  • Advanced Scaffolder card (gold card) - either an Advanced Scaffolder, Advanced Scaffold Inspector card or Manager & Supervisor, who can lead teams and supervise


There is also a Base card (black card) for non-scaffolders who put up and dismantle very basic scaffold towers, as well as a dark blue Basic Scaffold Inspection card. 


Each card type ensures a minimum training compliance level, in-depth construction site safety training and addition to the card database which is searchable by companies who want to make sure workers hold a valid card. This helps to ensure consistent safety standards across the industry, which is particularly important for those working at heights - with trips and falls being the most common cause of injury and death on construction sites.


Although CISRS cards are not a legal requirement, they are highly recommended if you’re serious about a career in scaffolding, as they prove your training and experience level. Each card has a minimum qualification and experience requirement as standard, directly related to each specialty area, which the card holder has to comply with as well as prove their credentials.


CISRS scaffolding cards are different to CSCS qualifications (the Construction Site Competence Scheme), as CISRS relates specifically to working with scaffolding, whereas CSCS cards are for more generalised construction site workers. However, some scaffolders or multi skilled contractors may hold both card types. Most though will not be required to hold CPCS cards, as this is the Construction Plant Competence Scheme designed for plant operators.


What card do you need for scaffolding?

Depending on your role, you’ll need to apply for the correct CISRS card for your level of experience and training. Although you don’t have to hold this qualification, many companies won’t allow you to work on site without one. Each card type represents a different skill level:



CISRS Scaffold Labourer (green card)

This card is designed for labourers who support scaffolding works on site, such as loading and unloading vehicles and transporting equipment to its place, but who aren’t responsible for erecting and dismantling towers. This level requires the COTS Course to be passed, and a valid HS&E test to be completed within 2 years. The green card is valid for 5 years.


CISRS Trainee Scaffolder (red card)

The red trainee card is designed for those studying towards a blue scaffolding card. Trainees must be supervised by a competent person at all times when working on or around scaffolding. You’ll need to have completed the COTS course, and the trainee card has to be held for 6 months before you can apply for your CISRS Part 1 training. This should then be followed by CISRS Part 2, NVQ Level 2 SCQF Level 5 and the CISRS 1 day skills test.


CISRS Scaffolder (blue card)

To progress to the blue card, you must have successfully completed the CISRS Part 1, CISRS Part 2, VQ2/SCQF5, CISRS 1 day skills test and HS&E test. You can then apply for a qualified scaffold system or tube & fitting card, but you cannot erect or dismantle scaffolding without the required tube & fitting training. These cards are valid for 5 years.


CISRS Advanced Scaffolder (gold card)

The gold cards are for more experienced scaffolding operators, and are for either inspectors, advanced scaffolders or managers/supervisors. Each card involves completion of the above stated courses, a specific minimum time of site experience, plus a specific advanced training course, as well as being a holder of the tube & fitting card for at least 1 year before applying. This card level means you can supervise crews and manage even complex scaffold structures.


Requirements for obtaining CISRS certification

Although each specialty has slightly different training, qualification requirements and eligibility criteria, CISRS card holders are expected to uphold a level of professionalism at all times, whilst following the latest safety guidelines to protect themselves and others on site. All cards require passing the HS&E test before application, too. All card holders are expected to complete a renewal course, when their card is due for expiry (usually after 5 years). As a result, CISRS card holders have proven qualifications for their level, and have been independently assessed to be able to carry out their roles safely and competently.


What is CISRS?: FAQs


Is CISRS the same as CSCS?

Though both CISRS and CSCS cards provide an industry standard of training and skill recognition, CISRS cards are specifically for the scaffolding trade, whereas CSCS cards are designed as a more general safety and competence scheme for the wider construction industry.


How do I get a CISRS certificate?

To gain a CISRS qualification you’ll need to have passed the relevant training for your level and scaffold specialty, which varies for labourers, general scaffolding workers, fitters and inspectors, as well as completed the CITB HS&E test and had sufficient site experience.

Are CISRS cards a legal requirement?

Although it’s not a legal requirement to hold a CISRS qualification if you work in the scaffolding industry, it’s highly recommended, as it ensures you receive the correct training and assessments to carry out your job safely and skillfully. Many companies won’t allow you to work on projects without a valid CISRS card.


Can a Part 1 scaffolder work alone?

Scaffolders who have completed their CISRS Part 1 training still have to be supervised by a competent person, such as a CISRS advanced (gold) card holder. You’re still considered a trainee until you pass the sufficient training and qualification level for a blue scaffolder card.


Can you work in construction without a CSCS card?

Just like CISRS cards, it’s not illegal to work in the construction industry without a CSCS card, but building sites are inherently risky and it’s highly recommended to take specific safety and skills training to carry out your job successfully. CSCS cards prove your qualification levels, showing you’re trained to a recognised industry standard in both safety and technical knowhow. 


In conclusion, CISRS cards are an important way of ensuring scaffolding staff are properly trained and assessed, in order to be able to skillfully carry out their work and safely do their job. CISRS cards come in four main coloured levels, and they offer an opportunity for career progression and specific skill specialisms for workers on site, plus a reassurance for companies and the general public that all work has been carried out safely using highly trained staff. 


For more articles to help you and your colleagues stay safe at work, visit the Travis Perkins Trade News & Advice Hub, for information on personal safety, construction safety and the latest Building Regulations explained.


Disclaimer: Information displayed in this article is correct at the time of publication, but note that legislation changes periodically. The information contained on this page is intended as an overall introduction and is not intended as advice from a professional building control officer. Travis Perkins aims to avoid, but accepts no liability, in the case that any information stated is out of date.