CONSTRUCTION workers from Northern Ireland are being barred from construction sites in the Republic over a lack of recognition of their health and safety qualifications, it has been claimed.
All workers are required to pass training before going onto any site. Separate qualifications provided in Northern Ireland, the Irish Republic and Britain vary only slightly but have previously been mutually acceptable across all jurisdictions.
However, some local bodies in the Republic have written to Northern Ireland-based contractors stating they are no longer prepared to accept workers without southern accreditation.
Brendan Crealey, MD of Portadown based training provider Industry Training Services has raised concerns that authorities south of the border are “creating a hard border to our construction workers even before Brexit”.
“The logic of all the various schemes is the same - to ensure competence across industry and promote safety of construction operatives and members of the public. The schemes are also effectively identical in terms of content.
“The safety standards in the construction industry across the UK are considered among the highest in Europe.
“As it stands, the schemes in the Republic of Ireland are largely modelled on those in the UK.
“In my opinion, this requires a political solution so I am calling on politicians on both sides of the border to get their heads together and apply some common sense to the situation.”
Malcolm Keys, health and safety manager with civil engineering firm Mills Contracts, Dromore, Co Tyrone said; “It has got to the stage now that some companies just aren’t tendering for contracts over the border.
“Even if you win the work, you end up paying out again for pretty much the same training that your workers already have.”
Gordon Best, regional director with the Quarry Products Association NI (QPANI) said:
“I am already aware of a number of road contractors which have had workers put off sites because they are not deemed to be carrying the correct cards.”