Health and safety exam re-sits after TV exposé

At least 6,000 people will have to re-sit a construction industry Health, Safety and Environment (HS&E) test after suspicious patterns were uncovered at the centres where they sat the exam.

The Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) tests are a mandatory requirement for attaining certification that permits work in the sector. Doubts over the validity of some test scores emerged following an investigation by the BBC’s Newsnight programme.

The CITB accredits 554 training centres. It said its anti-fraud measures led to three being shut down before the programme aired.

“Following analysis of how the test was answered, using known testing patterns and geographical factors, we will require 6,000 individuals to be retested,” said Carl Rhymer, the CITB’s director of delivery and customer engagement.”

“Many of these are expected to be legitimate, but this is to eliminate any doubt.”

One of the training centres featured by Newsnight was offering a ‘cash for qualifications’ deal in respect of the British Safety Council’s Level One award in ‘Health and Safety in a Construction Environment’.

Lara Murray, Palmers’ specialist in health and safety compliance, said: “Despite the number of people required to re-sit, it does not necessarily mean these particular HS&E tests are rogue, rather that there is suspicion about activity at the sites delivering them.

“As the CITB says, re-sits eliminate any doubt and ensure employers that they can rely on individuals’ certification.

“That said, while I do not believe that cash-for-qualifications is institutional, I am concerned by any suggestion of health and safety being taken lightly.

“The stakes, not only in terms of workers’ wellbeing but also employers’ commercial prosperity, are huge. Therefore, I urge any companies with questions over compliance to seek expert advice. For more information about the service Palmers provides, please contact us.”