6,000 workers to resit CSCS H&S test after CITB analysis finds suspect 'patterns'
Newsnight exposed “cash for qualifications” scams last month
Following investigations prompted by last month’s Newsnight exposé, at least 6,000 individuals will have to resit the CITB’s Health, Safety & Environment test after suspicious patterns at the test centres where they had taken the test were identified.
The HS&E tests are a mandatory part of the process for gaining various Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) cards.
According to CSCS, the individuals’ cards will remain valid until they book to resit the test, which must happen within one month. After that, they must pass the test within three months to retain their card or the cards will be cancelled.
A statement issued by the CITB said that the rebooked tests would be taken at test centres run by Pearson Vue, rather than independent test centres. It is not known whether the test centres implicated in the suspicious patterns have been suspended or are under investigation by CITB.
The CITB accredits 554 construction training centres, and says that its anti-fraud measures have already resulted in the three centres featured in the Newsnight report being shut down, before the programme was broadcast.
''Following analysis of how the test was answered, using known testing patterns and geographical factors, we will require 6,000 individuals to be retested. Many of these are expected to be legitimate, but this is to eliminate any doubt.''
Carl Rhymer, CITB
In a statement, Carl Rhymer, director of delivery and customer engagement, said: “We have reviewed all test results and evidence indicates that the vast majority of the tests are legitimate.
“Following analysis of how the test was answered, using known testing patterns and geographical factors, we will require 6,000 individuals to be retested. Many of these are expected to be legitimate, but this is to eliminate any doubt.”
The CSCS says it is backing the CITB’s efforts to crack down on fraud in construction testing, and pointed out the 6,000 suspicious tests should be taken in the context of 350,000 CSCS cards being issued a year.
Alan O’Neile, communications manager at CSCS, told Construction Manager: “It is essential that the construction industry continues to have confidence in the CSCS scheme. The decision taken by the CITB to withdraw the tests ensures employers can rely on the information contained on the CSCS card and that the system is effective in tackling those who take part in fraudulent activity.”
Meanwhile, the British Safety Council is also progressing investigations on 149 training centres that deliver its Level 1 award in Health and Safety in a Construction Environment, the 40-hour training course that is now a prerequisite for gaining a CSCS green Labourer card.
One of the three training centres featured on the Newsnight programme was offering a “cash for qualifications” deal on the Level 1 award.
According to the CSCS, it is also liaising with the British Safety Council (BSC), saying that “when further information becomes available CSCS will take the appropriate action in conjunction with the BSC”.
As well as the HS&E test and the Level 1, the Newsnight investigation featured one test centre that was offering SMSTS and SSTS certificates via underhand payments.
Meanwhile, construction union UCATT said that it still believed the current system needs to be improved. Brian Rye, acting general secretary, said: “The 6,000 workers who are being forced to resit their tests are the innocent victims of the CITB’s failure to ensure the test wasn’t being undermined. Not only must they be re-tested for free, the CITB has a moral duty to pay them any lost earnings caused by them having to retake their test.”