Employment background checks in the construction and manufacturing industry

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Jordie Black
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In most places across the globe, the construction and manufacturing industries are the pins that keep our world in shape; without their hard work and infrastructure, many of the buildings we know today simply wouldn’t exist. 

In the UK, almost half (4/9) sectors in the construction industry saw a rise in output and revenue in  March 2023, the main contributors were seen in infrastructure. In addition, according to data released by the Construction Skills Network (CSN), an additional 225,000 construction workers will be needed by 2027 to keep up with the demand.

From a recruitment perspective, this means getting more people through the door. 

As a manufacturing or construction hiring manager, knowing who you’re hiring is as important as knowing what your team is building.

Knowing your team helps build a stable and efficient working environment and ensures safety, productivity, and reliability. After all, the people behind the machinery, the tools, and the blueprints are the real architects of progress.

As daunting as it may sound, conducting a background check is an integral part of the hiring process in the construction and manufacturing industries. It's not merely about ticking off a checklist. It's about ensuring that each team member is capable, reliable, and fit for the industry's demanding environment. 

In this post, we’ll consider:

  1. The importance of background checks within the construction, infrastructure and manufacturing industries 
  2. The legalities around which checks you can do in the UK 
  3. The future of background checks within this sector

Let’s dive in. 

The importance of background checks in the construction and manufacturing industries

Safety is paramount in the construction and manufacturing industries. Workers handle heavy machinery daily, operate at dangerous heights, and manoeuvre around potentially hazardous materials. In such an environment, one misstep can have grave consequences. Therefore, hiring individuals who are not only skilled but also responsible and reliable becomes a matter of utmost importance. A thorough background check can help ascertain these qualities.

Background checks are also crucial for verifying skills and qualifications. The complexity of tasks in these industries necessitates proper knowledge and competence of employees. A construction worker must understand building regulations and a manufacturing worker must know how to operate machinery correctly. By verifying their previous employment and checking their qualifications, you can ensure they can perform the job.

Your company's reputation is at stake. A delay or inefficiency can tarnish your company's standing. A worker with a history of negligence or incompetence could be a liability. Knowing who you're hiring is essential in maintaining the high standards associated with your brand.

What background checks to consider? 

  • Identity check: A thorough background check, first and foremost, should confirm the individual's identity. This check validates the person's full name, date of birth and national insurance number. In a world where identity fraud is, unfortunately, a reality, confirming an applicant's identity is a crucial first step
  • Right to work: Equally important is verifying the individual's right to work. By UK employment laws, it's a legal requirement to establish that the candidate has the right to work in the UK. Failure to do so could result in significant fines and legal complications for your company.
  • Criminal record check: This  involves looking into any criminal history. This ensures that the candidate hasn't been involved in activities that could pose a risk to workplace safety and security.
  • Reference checks: delving into the applicant's employment history provides insights into their professional background. This process allows you to assess the candidate's capabilities, reliability, and work ethic based on their previous performance.
  • Education check: The construction and manufacturing industries demand specific skill sets and, often, certificates. Verifying qualifications and certifications.solidifies that the applicant has the necessary skills and education.

The legal aspect of conducting background checks in construction and manufacturing

When conducting background checks in the construction and manufacturing industries, you must adhere to the legal data protection and equality laws, per the Data Protection Act 2018, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and the Equality Act 2010. However, these industries also have additional considerations due to the nature of their work.

For example, the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) in the UK requires that all construction workers have the proper training and skills to ensure safety. Therefore, verifying qualifications and certifications isn't just about hiring competent individuals; it's a legal requirement.

Similarly, in manufacturing, adherence to Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and specific regulations like the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER), often requires verification of workers' competence and familiarity with particular machinery or processes.

How to automate your construction and manufacturing background checks

Consider implementing checks as part of the conditional job offer stage. This is particularly important when verifying specific qualifications, training, or licences. For instance, a forklift operator must have appropriate certification, or a construction worker might need a valid CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card.

Remember, for roles that require the operation of heavy machinery, looking into driving records could be a prudent step. In addition, since drug and alcohol misuse can pose severe risks in these industries, substance misuse checks might also be worth considering.

Third-party services specialising in background checks can be valuable in this process. They can help ensure that your checks are comprehensive, legal, and tailored to the needs of construction and manufacturing roles. It's essential to be transparent with candidates about these checks to maintain trust and give them a chance to clarify any potential issues.

Consider additional HR tools for hiring onboarding and employee experience. For example, a time clock app with GPS, can help streamline attendance tracking and ensure accurate payroll processing.

Another useful tool for construction teams within HR,  is a project management software like BuilderTREND. This can help with assigning and tracking tasks, sharing schedules and important project updates, and managing collaboration among team members.

HR departments can also benefit from using feedback tools such as 15Five, which allows employees to provide regular feedback.

The future of background checks in construction and manufacturing

The world is rapidly evolving, with technology playing a more significant role in all aspects of life, including recruitment and background checks. 

Technological advances and workforce shifts will shape the future of background checks in construction and manufacturing. To stay ahead, companies should adapt their hiring processes, invest in new tools, and continually review their approach to ensure it remains effective, fair, and compliant with laws and regulations.

After all, it's all about building a team as strong, capable, and reliable as the structures and products they create.

Discover a better way for reliable automated background checks