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News added on 23.10.2015

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Test centres found to be fixing health and safety tests in construction

A BBC investigation has uncovered fixing of CSCS card health and safety tests. Why is this potentially such a big deal?

An investigation carried out by the BBC has found that several test centres responsible for conducting the entry test for the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) are fixing results.

The card scheme was introduced in 1995 in a bid to raise the standard of health and safety on construction sites. In order to carry a card it is necessary to pass a multiple choice exam which indicates that a basic level of health and safety understanding has been achieved. The majority of the UK’s larger construction companies insist that all workers and visitors hold a card to prove that they have this minimum level before they are permitted on site.

The investigation found that some centres were deliberately fixing the results by going through the answers with candidates. It also found that some questions were answered incorrectly on purpose to avoid suspicion that may be raised by a continual 100% pass rate.

The Construction Industry Training Board, which administers the scheme, has responded by stating that it is accelerating plans to install CCTV in all test centres and has launched spot checks.

Whilst card schemes such as these should not be solely relied upon as a measure of competence, they are an important aspect of ensuring minimum standards of health and safety. When the integrity of such a scheme is called into question in this manner it casts doubt on the wider benefits that it brings to the industry. Where cards are being obtained by those who do not have a basic level of health and safety knowledge, there will be an increased risk to themselves and others on the sites where they will work. This is particularly an issue where workers lacking English may obtain a card, but in fact not understand the hazards or signage present on sites.

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