Cash for cards
Posted on: 28/10/2015 By: Lee Rance
Newsnight and BBC London recently uncovered corruption in some test centres that offer the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS).
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.
CSCS cards were launched by the industry in 1995 and nine of the UK’s top 10 biggest construction companies demand them before workers can enter a site.
Some test centres had been rigging health and safety exams, throwing into question the competence of workers and potentially undermining the Construction Skills Certification Scheme, which demonstrates skills and grasp of health and safety.
Regulation 15 (7) of The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 states that ‘A contractor must not employ or appoint a person to work on a construction site unless that person has, or is in the process of obtaining, the necessary skills, knowledge, training and experience to carry out the tasks allocated to that person in a manner that secures the health and safety of any person working on the construction site.’
This regulation illustrates why these schemes are so important. They are an effective way of making sure the people you have working on site know what they are doing and are not putting others at risk with their activities.
The BBC undercover investigation revealed that workers have been able to gain CSCS cards and employment on major sites after handing over cash to corrupt test centres.
CSCS made the following statement:
CSCS takes the issue of fraudulent activity extremely seriously and it is essential that steps are taken to prevent it. CSCS is confident the vast majority of cards issued are a result of obtaining a qualification legitimately. It is CSCS’s firm belief to ensure UK construction sites remain safe, construction site workers must have legitimate training and qualifications before allowed to work on site. CSCS will continue to share intelligence and work with the authorities when the evidence suggests criminal activity is taking place.
CITB, whose courses are being run in some of the test centres in question said:
We are working with CSCS to revoke fraudulent cards wherever they are found, which has in some cases helped trigger investigations into suspect testing centres. Our intelligence suggests card fraud is focused in a small minority of the 544 testing centres across the country. We continue to work hard alongside partners including the Health and Safety Executive and the National Crime Agency to help stamp out this problem.
Although there is no legal requirement to possess a card, it is an effective way to provide some evidence of competence. However cards alone cannot be relied upon as a measure of competence and should not be used as a ‘passport’ onto a construction site. There also needs be additional enquiries and/or supervision to check the workers competence.
Until next time.