As a contractor working within the construction industry, you are constantly having to demonstrate to clients that you have the credentials required not only to deliver a quality product, on time and within budget, but to ensure the health, safety and welfare of your employees, other contractors, and anyone else who may be impacted by the work you are doing. Checking that the contractors you appoint are competent in terms of Health & Safety is a specific requirement under the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015.
In order to streamline the process for those appointing contractors and ensure Health & Safety competence, there are a number of third-party accreditation schemes within the construction industry. These are designed to reduce the burden on both clients and contractors having to go through vigorous pre-qualifications and helping to manage the tendering process.
What Health & Safety Accreditation Schemes Are There?
Within the construction sector there are a number of accreditation schemes such as Safecontractor, Constructionline, CHAS, SMAS, SSIP, etc. Although there is no statutory requirement to be accredited to such schemes, many construction industry clients insist that the contractors they invite to tender or appoint are registered and accredited by them.
Should I Bother Getting Onto A Health & Safety Accreditation Scheme?
Acceptance on to these Health & Safety accreditation schemes requires contractors to demonstrate that they meet the requirements and standards of a set criteria. This can be quite challenging for those who are unfamiliar with these schemes. Depending on the quality of information provided, there can be a lot of to-ing and fro-ing of documentation to ensure that the submissions meet the required standards.
Many clients insist that contractors are registered with an accreditation scheme. Although there is no guarantee of future work, once you have achieved accreditation you will have opened up many more new opportunities. Simply not being accredited to a third-party scheme could result in losing work; the benefits far out-weigh the time and effort required.
What Assistance Will I Need To Get On To A Third-Party Accreditation Scheme?
In order to be successful, you will need help and assistance from your Health & Safety Competent Person. Large companies will have inhouse Health & Safety Advisors, whereas small to medium-sized companies may need some support from an external Health & Safety provider.
No matter who is assigned to assist with your application (whether internally or externally), you must ensure that your Health & Safety Competent Person(s) have a sound knowledge of your organisation and understanding of construction industry-specific Health & Safety. The whole process will involve liaising with an Accreditation Scheme Adviser to ensure you meet the standards required. This process can be time-consuming and may also involve the development of new policies, procedures, and Health & Safety arrangements.
What Information Do I Need To Provide When Looking To Become Accredited?
Firstly, as a contractor/service provider you will need to register your company details and particulars with the accreditation scheme company. You will then be expected to provide details regarding your Health & Safety arrangements and respond to a number of specific Health & Safety questions; usually this will also include providing documentation to back up or support your response. Such information on your arrangements may include:
- Up-to-date and signed Health & Safety Policy
- Arrangements for managing asbestos
- Arrangements for ensuring the successful management of risk from work equipment
- Arrangements for successfully managing fire risk in the workplace
- Arrangements for appointing competent sub-contractors
- Arrangements for successfully monitoring and reviewing safety performance leading to continuous improvement of systems
- Arrangements for accident reporting and accident investigation
- Arrangements for providing suitable welfare facilities
- Arrangements for successfully managing risk through assessment by a Competent Person.
Specific Health & Safety questions may include:
- Do you have a policy and process for providing your workforce with training and information appropriate to the type of work you undertake?
- Do you have access to Competent Health & Safety Advice/Assistance, both general and construction sector-related?
- Are you able to demonstrate arrangements for ensuring that your Health & Safety measures are effective in reducing/preventing incidents, occupational ill-health and accidents?
- Does your workforce have Health & Safety or other relevant qualifications and experience sufficient to implement your Health & Safety policy to a standard appropriate to the work for which your organisation is likely to bid?
- Do you check, review and – where necessary – improve your Health & Safety performance?
- Do you have procedures in place to involve your workforce in the planning and implementation of Health & Safety measures?
- Do you conduct accident/incident reporting and undertake follow-up investigations?
- Do you have arrangements for ensuring that your suppliers apply Health & Safety measures to a standard appropriate to the work for which they are being engaged?
The important thing to recognise is that the information you submit will be assessed by the Accreditation Scheme Assessor – therefore, it is important to ensure that the information provided is relevant and comprehendible. If it is incomplete, disjointed or lacks any clarity, this will simply be returned to you asking for clarification and the whole process could become very time-consuming.
Once I Have Achieved Accreditation, What Do I Have To Do Next?
Generally, these schemes are renewed on an annual basis; therefore, you will be required to update the previous information submitted. This could include an updated version of your Health & Safety Policy, latest insurances, an up-to-date training matrix, or providing evidence that you are, in fact, working in accordance with your Health & Safety management systems – for example, providing examples of method statements, risk assessments, permit to work, site safety inspections, etc.
Advice, Help Or Assistance
Should you require any further advice, help, or assistance regarding CHAS, Safecontractor, or any other third-party Accreditation Scheme, please contact Paul Littlewood on 01332 668877 or email [email protected]. Also take a look at our Marpal’s Health and Safety Competent Persons Scheme which will assist you in gaining accreditation on these schemes should you not have the resources in-house.