Planned changes to the HS&E test

The updated HS&E test went live on 26 June 2019. Changes have been made to make the test even more robust so that operatives can continue to be safe on the job, and know their fellow workers are just as qualified to contribute to a safe working environment. Employers can also have assurance that their qualified workforce is less likely to lose days to injuries on the job.

What has changed?

The CITB HS&E test has been revised in several ways. Details of these changes are below.

Up to date with current practice and legislation

All versions of the test have been reviewed, and where applicable the questions have been updated to keep up with current legislation.

The Operatives test in particular has undergone a substantial update to better reflect the range of day to day tasks and repsonsibilities an operative has on site

CITB has worked with construction health and safety managers and trainers with years of hands-on experience in making these changes, so that the revised HS&E test is up-to-date and fit for the needs of workers and employers.

Level playing field

Each person taking the revised Operatives test will have the same proportion of easy, medium and hard questions. The test will continue to serve up a random combination of questions to a candidate, but each combination will have the same level of difficulty.

We’ve worked with industry experts to make sure that all the test questions were rated for difficulty, so that the revised test is a ‘level playing field’ for operatives who take it.

One score to pass

Instead of two sections of questions to answer candidates only have one in the revised test. The behavioural case study questions have been removed.

The test will still examine whether candidates know the right behaviours to demonstrate in the job, as behavioural elements have been incorporated into many of the test questions

As there will only be one section of questions, the score will be simpler to understand as a result.

With the new scoring, candidates will now need the following scores to pass the test:

  • for the Operatives test, the pass mark is 45 out of 50
  • for the Specialists test, the pass mark is 45 out of 50
  • for the Managers and Professionals test, the pass mark is 46 out of 50.

Please note detailed score reports will no longer be available, all information available as to what areas you have passed or failed within your test will be on the score report you recieve at the test centre. Should you lose or misplace your score report you can now go online and print another copy meaning you no longer have to pay the £10 duplicate fee. You can do this by logging in to the PearsonVUE portal (where you book online tests). If you need further information about printing a score report please contact testingservicesfeedback@citb.co.uk 

New questions and a new style

New questions have been added to better cover the wide range of daily health, safety and environment tasks and responsibilities. So, instead of a limited variety of questions, each candidate will now get a wider selection.

A new question style has also been introduced to the Managers and Professionals (MAP) version of the test. In this new style, candidates will drag and drop the answers into the right order. This format helps test whether a candidate really knows the procedures for being safe on the job.

This new style joins the other styles that were added to the test over the last year. You can see a preview of these new styles on our sample questions platform by using the button below.

Please note that the questions platform is not a practice test and no score will be given when you try to answer a question.

Clearer instructions

Test centres reported that many workers struggled with the instructions on how to use the test equipment. We’ve now improved the on-screen tutorial so that candidates can learn how to operate the equipment during the test.

Materials to revise, not memorise

Revision materials, such as DVDs, books, downloads and apps, have all been updated alongside changes to the HS&E test. In the operatives version, we’ve replaced some questions and answers with short explanatory text and included more diagrams to make it easier for candidates to prepare and revise for the test.

The updated revision materials are now available to purchase from the CITB Shop. For all tests from 26 June onwards candidates require the 2019 versions of the revision materials.

These updates have been designed to help workers learn and be able to practise health and safety. When a worker passes the test, it should be because they know and practise safe working, not because they’ve memorised the answers but don’t really know how to be safe on the job.

The updated revision materials are now available to purchase and download from the CITB Shop.


Example page from updated revision materials showing new content format.


Example page from updated revision materials showing new diagrams to revise with.

The health, safety and environment field has changed a lot since 2001. More is now required of construction workers to work on a site safely, especially for new workers who lack the same levels of knowledge and skills that experienced operatives have. The CITB Health, safety and environment (HS&E) test needed to be revised so that it continues to assure workers that their fellow operatives can be trusted to be safe on the job and not put them at risk of harm.

For employers, these changes should help with keeping their workforce up to date with current health and safety practices and legislation, and improve productivity with fewer days lost to injury.

What will not change:

  • how much time a candidate has to take the test – it will still be a 50 question test that needs to be completed in 45 minutes
  • how to book the test – see Book a test for further details
  • being able to get special assistance, such as sign language, translators, etc. for the test
  • regular question styles, such as multiple choice questions, will still be used in the test.

The changes to the test were made in stages over the course of two and a half years. At each stage we worked with:

  • health and safety managers
  • health and safety trainers
  • legislation experts from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE)
  • site managers
  • psychometric testing experts
  • representatives from test centres
  • employers
  • candidates who volunteered to give feedback.

Incremental changes to the CITB HS&E test were made throughout 2018, with the final set of changes due to launch on 26 June 2019.

Phase 1: launched January 2018

In this phase, we:

  • piloted new question styles with about 7,500 candidates. Their feedback was analysed and led to the refinement of these styles
  • set up a sample questions platform to allow candidates to try out these new question styles along with the regular ones
  • implemented two new question styles - 'drag and drop text' and 'multiple choice with images' - to 57 questions in the test
  • maintained the content/subject matter in the test; in other words there was no change to the content of the questions, just the way the questions were formatted.

Phase 2: launched June 2018

For this phase, we:

  • implemented three more new question styles:
    • 'drag and drop' image questions
    • 'hot spot' questions
    • 'hot area' questions
  • replaced the content of several existing questions with new content
  • included these new question styles in all the hard copy and digital versions of the test revision materials. These updated materials became available to buy in our online shop from 3 April 2018.

If you have any questions or feedback about these planned changes to the HS&E test, please email hsetestdev@citb.co.uk

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