The new NHBC ‘Register of Site Managers’.

The NHBC launched its Register of Site Managers earlier this year. Their press release on 9 March 2016 said:

“Recognising the key role that site managers play in delivering high quality new homes, NHBC has developed a dedicated online resource to support them and assist in their development. With over 1,200 users in the first weeks, NHBC OnSite is an online resource providing site managers with access to a host of technical resources and career support and in addition, allows them to build their personal profile.”

It should be noted that the early take up could have been due to the free prize draw (an iPad Air 2, 16GB) for site managers signing up to NHBC OnSite before 30 April 2015.

Creating a Profile:

In this section a site manager can choose to add quite a bit of personal information, there is even a 2000 word “About me” box! There is an option to hide anything, other than their name, crucially; all information entered will be viewable by NHBC. The information not hidden in the Profile will be visible on their public profile if shared via the “share profile” option.

Under the ‘Professional’ heading, site managers can add career information such as the number of years employed as a site manager, type of projects worked on, current and previous employers, Pride in the Job awards won, professional and academic qualifications and even their CSCS number!

There is even a Social Media heading where LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Google+ URLs can be entered – but interestingly, not for Facebook. Quite why anyone would want their employer/future employer and the NHBC to have access to these is beyond me.

Technical Assessment:

Site Managers who decide to register can choose to complete an online questionnaire for a technical assessment to “assess their own skills and knowledge”. This could help the NHBC determine how much of a claim risk individual site managers may pose. The NHBC also suggest ticking the box confirming acceptance of results being shared with your employer, to “help them understand which areas might benefit from additional focus/training.” NHBC Technical AssessmentBut as this is an “open book” assessment, meaning the NHBC actually recommend that a copy of the current NHBC Standards is available so correct answers can be looked up, the assessment results are meaningless. The technical assessment comprises of 30 questions to be answered within 45 minutes. Once completed, site managers can see their overall score and a breakdown against subject areas to “identify any particular strengths or areas for focus”. Those with a ‘pass’ mark of 80% or more, can download and print a certificate! The results will also be added to the site manager’s NHBC OnSite profile.

Easy access to Regulations and Standards

Registered site managers can view the Building Regulations and NHBC Standards Plus 2016. Including NHBC guidance notes, videos, 3D models and other supplementary material for each section. The NHBC have also developed two apps for tablets and mobiles, the NHBC 3D Viewer for Standards 2016 app and the NHBC Foundation Depth Calculator App.

NHBC at the APPG Inquiry

In their presentation to the APPG Inquiry Into the Quality of New Homes in England on 7th December 2015, the NHBC stated their intention to set up a ‘Register of Site Managers’ stating:

“Recognising the pivotal role that site managers play in delivering high quality new homes, and the fact that their development is a key factor in the on-going success of the industry, a new Register of Site Managers will be a confidential online register aimed at capturing key information that reflects site manager experience, qualifications and capability in relation to construction quality.

The registers key objectives include:

  • Incentivising and facilitating site manager development and consequential impact on construction quality
  • Creating a more effective communications channel
  • Providing site managers with access to a resource of useful information and initiatives
  • Providing site managers with an opportunity to differentiate themselves via key attributes
  • Providing a referral point as part of the recruitment process via a time limited unique identifier”
The website tells site managers:

“NHBC is here to support you. NHBC OnSite is your free, dedicated resource for technical and career support. Use it to access technical guidance on NHBC Standards and Building Control as well as our latest standards-raising training courses and seminars. You can also build your own profile, highlighting your key career achievements to date, which you’ll be able to share with others if you wish to demonstrate technical expertise.”

NHBC OnSite is free to access and contains:
  • help to interpret and implement NHBC Standards and Building Regulations through NHBC Standards Plus and NHBC Building Regulations Plus
  • access to technical support from our in-house experts
  • links to the latest and previous editions of Technical Extra
  • regular industry news and updates specifically relevant to site managers
  • details of our latest training events, including priority invitations to free training aimed at site managers.

The website states that: “Details of site managers benefiting from NHBC OnSite will not be published and will not be freely available.”

So I asked the NHBC to clarify the following:

Whilst the register is not going to be made “freely available” can you clarify what extent the site managers’ details will be available, other than if they choose to share their own profiles for a limited time?

Whether the NHBC site managers register will be made available (or is planned to be made available) to all (or any particular) NHBC registered housebuilders, either as part of their membership or for an additional fee.

The NHBC states: online register aimed at capturing key information that reflects site manager experience, qualifications and capability in relation to construction quality. Providing a referral point as part of the recruitment process via a time limited unique identifier”
What exactly does the NHBC plan to do with this information?

In reply, an NHBC spokesperson told me:

“The purpose of NHBC OnSite is to provide site managers with easily accessible, extensive technical resources in one place. Site managers signed up to the portal will be able to create their own individual profiles and will have the ability to share these with one another using a sharing link. Currently, NHBC is not planning to make the list of site managers registered to OnSite freely available.” 

NHBC OnSite DashboardSo it is only “currently not planning to make the register freely available” but that should be interpreted as “likely at a future date.” Clearly the NHBC are stockpiling an extensive database of detailed information about individual site managers and appear to be apparently free to choose how they decide to use it. I am concerned that such a register may be used as an unofficial industry blacklist or by omission, site managers may be blacklisted by employers for not being on the register. In my opinion, I believe this represents a potentially huge data protection and privacy issue for the NHBC with implications for those site managers who voluntarily choose to register for what appears to be very little benefit for them. Whether site managers who register could potentially increase their likelihood of winning an NHBC Pride in the Job Award remains to be seen.

Certainly, large plc housebuilders’ (the NHBC’s paymasters) could potentially use the register as part of their recruitment process (“only site managers on the NHBC Register will be considered”) or offers of employment will be conditional on the site manager registering on the NHBC ONSite. Perhaps registration will become “company policy” for the large plc housebuilders.

It is possible to register using a false name with a Gmail e mail address and I would suggest that those site managers wishing to access the dashboard do so anonymously and untraceably.

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