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CN Briefing: BBC Newsnight; CSCS; CITB; health and safety

The industry’s reputation has taken another battering thanks to BBC’s Newsnight revealing that some construction workers have been paying cash for CSCS cards.

As health and safety is at stake, you won’t hear many people complaining about the investigation (albeit the fact that 13 testing centres have been shut down or are under investigation by the CITB probably warranted a mention).

If prospective employees are entering construction sites on the basis of having forked out a couple of hundred quid, rather than understanding health and safety principles, then the exposure is welcome.

For one thing, there may well be a few people thinking twice about taking money to help people pass a test today.

But questions over the suitability of third party training providers are important.

This industry needs more and more people to take tests and get onto construction sites.

But the CITB has already expressed its desire to row back on direct training where there are more appropriate providers in place.

To do this, it needs to be robust in assessing prospective training providers. Getting a CSCS card can’t be dependent on the size of your wallet.

There will be serious questions about the value of those cards today.

Those questions will extend into the living rooms of every parent who was coming around to the idea that construction was a prospective career for their son or daughter.

Long-term career prospects, salary and job satisfaction all play a part in whether parents support the industry as a career path for their kids.

But if construction sites and employees aren’t perceived as skilled and safe, those considerations may pale in comparison.

More than 160 people were killed in construction accidents 40 years ago. Around 40 a year lose their lives today.

That’s a significant improvement. But leaving dodgy characters looking to make a quick buck in charge of training will quickly see the industry return to the bad old days where health and safety wasn’t the number one priority.

Got 5 mins?

Jack Simpson reports from a remarkable public accounts committee hearing into Network Rail’s £38.5bn Control Period 5.

Watch: how the world’s longest road and rail tunnel will come together.

Construction News has exclusively revealed contractors for more than £1.5bn-worth of deals in the last week, details of which are all here.

Got longer?

Read news editor Gav Hollander’s excellent interview with Lendlease’s European construction managing director, which includes news that the firm will be moving into infrastructure.

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