Health and safety can be something of a maze for both construction companies and clients. Many companies fail at the pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) stage of tendering because they haven’t been able to convince the client that their health and safety policies and management are sufficiently robust.
One of the key ways to demonstrate compliance in advance of tendering is to take part in one of the certification schemes. These act to assure clients that your company has met a set of health and safety standards.
One widely used scheme is the Contractors’ Health and Safety Assessment Scheme (CHAS). This was set up to encourage better health and safety practices in small and medium-sized construction firms. It is backed by local authorities, county councils and central government, but it’s open to use by anyone responsible for assessing suppliers and building contractors. Building contractors have to stick to guidelines with health and safety especially when it comes to subjects such as left over Asbestos in soil after demolition or checking the ground before building. For help and advice on these matters you could use companies similar to Soil Remediation Services. CHAS claims to be the fastest-growing health and safety assessment scheme in the UK, with a database of over 62,000 suppliers and 720 buyers. It has recently set up an electronic application process which is said to be a lot simpler than the previous paper-based version. Some companies use consultants to complete their application, and the CHAS figures show that over 97% of assessments are approved. There are no available figures for the percentage of applications submitted by consultants.
If you are using specialist or new products, such as the tensile fabric structures used, it is preferable to get an assessment in advance.
The CHAS service includes health and safety updates, which can be a useful way of keeping up with changes such as those that were made to the CDM Co-ordinator role in 2015. If this all seems daunting, CHAS has a simplified process for sole traders and suppliers who employ fewer than five people.
Leading health and safety schemes such as CHAS are members of Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP). If you’re confused about the various health and safety schemes, SSIP has a useful list of the schemes with links to each. These include the NHBC Safemark scheme, BSI and SafeContractor, among others.
Suppliers can sign up to the SSIP scheme rather than taking several health and safety accreditations. Health and safety assessment by Acclaim is available as part of the construction design membership.