Those who issued fraudulent cards should be arrested and charged with serious criminal offences and jailed and their employers should face heavy fines says GMB.
GMB, the union for construction workers, commented on the call by the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) that employers check all CSCS cards after the CSCS and Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) revoked 4,615 safety cards as a result of fraudulent activity at five test centres. See notes to editors for latest statement from CSCS released on 25th January.
This follows the CITB in November recalling 6,000 Health, Safety and Environment Tests (HS&E) cards after the fraud was exposed. This was to verify that the holders have the required safety qualifications. See notes to editors for copy of statement by Construction Skills Certification Scheme dated 9th November 2015 and GMB press release dated 10th November.
Phil Whitehurst, GMB National Officer, said “Only 1,385 of the 6,000 card holders have applied for the free re-test. This leaves 4,615 fraudulent safety certificates from these five service providers still in circulation on UK construction sites. Those holding these cancelled cards pose a serious danger to life and limb to other construction workers and the public.
GMB support the call by CSCS that every employer on every UK site does an electronic smart card check of every CSCS card in circulation to establish the validity. The visual checks normally done by employers are no longer adequate. The fraudulent certificates once found must be confiscated and the names of the holders reported to CSCS.
GMB call for those who issued the fraudulent cards to be arrested and charged with serious criminal offences and to be jailed and their employers should face heavy fines.
So far there is not a word from the CITB of any prosecutions against the five test centre operators. This was a criminal operation which potentially has put construction workers lives in danger on UK construction sites and not one legal case has been disclosed.
It is for the employers to regain any trust in the training and qualification providers as well as the card certification schemes carrying the CSCS logo.
CITB has to get out of damage limitation mode and start getting their act together to clean up the entire operation. This could be the tip of the iceberg with many more of their service providers cheating the system. Stringent measures with severe criminal penalties must now be taken to eradicate such practices in their operation.
The CSCS directors must set up a full independent investigation of the entire operation to evaluate the true extent of the problem with fraudulent cards. The organizations responsible for fraudulent cards must be driven out of the industry.
The independent investigation should recommend security measures that can be put in place at every training and qualifications provider to eradicate the dangers arising from this fraud. CCTV footage of every course as a true record should be considered. The cost of this clean up should be met by the CITB.”
Contact: Phil Whitehurst 07968 338810 or GMB 020 7391 6700 or GMB press office 07921 289880 or 07974 251 823.
Notes to editors
1 Copy of statement by Construction Skills Certification Scheme- release 25th January 2016.
Employers urged to check CSCS cards electronically
The Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) and CITB have revoked 4,615 cards, following investigations into fraudulent activity at five test centres.
This comes after an extensive investigation by CITB, which exposed fraudulent activity in centres where candidates were taking tests accredited by both the Construction Industry Training Board and the British Safety Council. This was later broadcast on BBC’s Newsnight.
CSCS is committed to safety and works with CITB, the British Safety Council and others, to verify that an individual has achieved the required qualifications, before a CSCS card is issued.
CSCS wrote to all affected card holders in November to tell them that they needed to retake their HS&E test. Vouchers were provided to pay for retesting and steps were taken to reduce inconvenience for businesses.
Following analysis of how the test was answered, using known testing patterns and geographical factors, we required over 6,000 candidates who had completed the Health, Safety and Environment (HS&E) Test and more than 2,000 people who had completed the Site Safety Plus certificate, to retake their test. This was to eliminate any doubt.
Those affected were asked to register by 20 December 2105, or risk the cancellation of their CSCS card. Of the individuals affected, a total of 5,480 did not register to retake their test and as a result their test result is now void and of those individuals who have already used their test result to obtain a card, 4,615 cards have been revoked. The 553 remaining candidates have until the 14 February to successfully take their test before their cards are also revoked.
Graham Wren, Chief Executive at CSCS, said: “We take assurance that CITB’s in-depth analysis was accurate. While we accept that some people have been inconvenienced we have kept this to a minimum and removed unsafe cards from circulation.”
“We are urging employers to check the validity of all cards by either electronically reading the CSCS SmartCard or by using “Card Checker” via the CSCS website, to make sure that invalid cards are not permitted on site”.
Graham Wren added “While the number of people suspected of fraudulent activity is relatively small, compared to the 400,000 cards issued each year, this type of behaviour has the potential to undermine legitimate employees and harm the reputation of the industry.
“It is important employers are able to trust the training and qualification providers as well as the card certification schemes carrying the CSCS logo”.
CSCS continues to work with CITB and the BSC to crack down on fraud. Where possible, we always work with law enforcement agencies to prosecute fraudulent activity.
Additional notes for the editor:
CSCS is the leading skills certification scheme within the UK construction industry. CSCS cards provide proof that individuals working on construction sites have the required training and qualifications for the type of work they carry out.
The Scheme keeps a database of people working in construction who have achieved, or are committed to achieving a recognised construction related qualification.
Most principal contractors and major house builders require construction workers on their sites to hold a valid CSCS card.
CSCS is a not-for-profit limited company. Its directors are from employer organisations and unions representing the breadth of the industry. The Scheme’s application processing and contact centre is delivered under contract by CITB.
Utilising smart technology to verify CSCS cards is simple and can be used in a variety of ways to meet the construction industry’s IT and security requirements.
For those who want to use smartphones or tablets there is a free “Go Smart” app available to download from Google Play.
For those who prefer to work from PC’s CSCS card reader software can be downloaded from the CSCS website or you can purchase the compatible readers from CSCS’s preferred supplier.
CSCS have produced a short video that shows how CSCS SmartCards can be used to check qualifications and training as well as for additional applications to save time and money.
CSCS works closely with the Awarding Organisations, CITB, HMRC, the Police, Trading Standards and other agencies to identify and take action against those attempting to deceive construction employers.
CSCS is confident the vast majority of cards issued are a result of obtaining a qualification legitimately.
2 GMB press release dated 10 November 2015
GMB Supports Construction Skills Certification Scheme Action To Recall 6,000 Safety Cards That May Have Been Obtained By Fraud
BBC investigation revealed widespread and organised cheating offering guaranteed passes for cash allowing untrained builders on to dangerous sites and this has to be dealt with says GMB
GMB, the union for construction workers, commented on the statement by Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) on the recent announcement by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to recall 6,000 Health, Safety and Environment Tests (HS&E) cards. See notes to editors for copy of statement by Construction Skills Certification Scheme dated 9th November 2015.
Phil Whitehurst, GMB National Officer for Construction, said “Since 1995 construction workers across the UK are required to hold a CSCS card to prove skills and grasp of health and safety.
Last month a BBC investigation found that numerous test centres offered guaranteed passes for cash thereby enabling workers lacking language skills to obtain qualifications. The investigation revealed widespread and organised cheating which allowed untrained builders on to dangerous sites.
Even though we should not have been in this position in the first place GMB fully supports the positive steps being taken by CITB & CSCS following the BBC expose regarding the fraudulent issuing of CSCS cards.
CITB & CSCS have investigated all the allegations and have now recalled 6,000 cards. The recipients will now have to re- test. While many of the 6,000 will be innocent parties the risk to health and safety on sites from those who have fraudulently obtained cards has to be eliminated.
To reinforce the stringent measures now being taken by CITB & CSCS to regain confidence in the CSCS card, the employers themselves must make sure that all workers entering their sites are checked through the relevant channels with CITB & CSCS. They should not just take at face value a card being presented which has been the case previously by so many employers.”
3 Copy of statement by Construction Skills Certification Scheme dated 9th November 2015
BBC fraud investigation: CSCS confirms cards at risk of cancellation
Following the recent announcement by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to recall 6,000 Health, Safety and Environment Tests (HS&E), CSCS has made the following statement:
CSCS fully supports CITB’s decision to recall the HS&E Tests identified by their investigation.
Passing the CITB HS&E Test is a key requirement to obtaining a CSCS card. Following CITB’s announcement CSCS is writing to the affected 6,000 card holders to confirm their CSCS card is at risk of cancellation.
In order for the CSCS card to remain valid cardholders must register to retake the CITB HS&E test within one month and complete the test within three months.
Failure to complete either of these steps will result in the immediate and permanent cancellation of the CSCS card.
CSCS accepts many of the 6,000 cardholders will not have taken part in fraudulent activity, however to retain the support and confidence of industry and avoid any doubt all the card holders contacted by CITB will be required to retake the test.
All retests will be taken at centres operated by Pearson VUE and are bookable through the CITB website. CITB will issue vouchers to cover the cost of retesting.
The CITB have established a dedicated helpline on 0344 994 4053 for those that may have been affected by this decision.
It is essential 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.
Employers are asked to check the validity of CSCS cards either by using the Smart technology contained within the card, or using the Check a Card facility on the CSCS website.
CSCS continues to liaise closely with the British Safety Council (BSC) in relation to the Level One Award qualification identified by the BBC investigation. Passing the Level One Award is a key requirement to obtaining a CSCS Labourer card. The BSC are conducting their own investigation and when further information becomes available CSCS will take the appropriate action in conjunction with the BSC.
Our aim is to ensure the CSCS card remains a valuable and credible tool in ensuring workers have the necessary training and qualifications to carry out their jobs. CSCS remains confident the vast majority of the two million CSCS cards issued to date are as a result of obtaining a qualification legitimately.