6,000 workers to resit CSCS H&S test after CITB analysis finds suspect 'patterns'

10 November 2015

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.”


This action is way too late! The problem has existed for ages.
Several 'dark' websites are meant to offer any card for the right price. Delegates on various courses have told me their companies have been offered such services directly, with only a simple registration process.

Mike F, 10 November 2015

The horses have bolted, quick.... close the gate !

Ramjet, 10 November 2015

I have personally seen foreigners been pushed through inductions with CSCS trade cards and can't speak a word of English. Failed tests but later on walking around the site like they own the place.

Chris, 11 November 2015

17 year olds have passed the test, done 1year and 1 day in a training school and on site, have an NVQ2 and are classed as qualified bricklayers/joiners
Shame on the CITB
Call that training for the future?

Tony Callaghan, 1 December 2015

The failed CSCS card scheme is in complete disarray and is driving skilled people away from construction. The vast cost to a company or individual to have these now proven meaningless cards just to get on site is reducing the skills available. New build sites are always complaining about skills shortages but their insistence on fully qualified people taking further exams on health and safety or skills test to gain an unnecessary CSCS card simply pushes the most qualified away. What started out as a good idea is now a very expensive money making scam and skills hindrance to the industry.
I always avoid anything CSCS as it is wasted money, the card proves nothing and is pointless, simply too much hassle and far too expensive !

Steve Shepherd, 2 May 2018

As a CSCS card tutor I must take issue with every word of fake news from Steve Shepherd. The CSCS card scheme has certainly not failed nor is it in disarray, but seems to be going from strength to strength.

The so-called vast cost amounts to £21 for the test and £36 for a five-year Green Card. Our course is now sold out until November 2018 as more new starters are attracted to an expanding industry which can offer good pay and safe conditions of work. The CSCS card qualification is Health, Safety and Environment based and is certainly not skills-based so I fail to accept the argument that it is driving experienced workers away from the industry.

The card simply informs the employer that the holder has completed a basic Health & Safety course and can be regarded as safe to work on site. Major employers must regard it as valuable as it is now mandatory for many construction companies.

Lets hope that the scammers continue to be weeded out and prosecuted so we can all enjoy a safer industry.

Wyn Fisher, 8 August 2018

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