View from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

A supporter

Small construction businesses face many requests for prequalification questionnaires, often asking similar questions. This creates a burden of paperwork for small construction businesses. HSE supports the work of SSIP to simplify prequalification and to encourage straightforward mutual recognition between its Member Schemes. Publication of assessed suppliers on the internet through the SSIP Web Portal will continue to reduce the burden of paperwork.

SSIP Adopts the Core Criteria

SSIP assessments are all judged on core criteria approved by HSE. These core criteria describe what it means for a construction business to comply with basic health and safety law. The Core Criteria were published by HSE in Appendix 4 of the CDM 2007 Approved Code of Practice. With the new CDM 2015 Regulations, there is no immediate publication of an Approved Code of Practice, and the SSIP Forum have agreed to adopt the Core Criteria to become part of the SSIP Rules and Bylaws.

Message for clients

HSE’s message for Clients, those who are procuring the services of suppliers to do construction work, is simple. HSE encourages Clients to accept a valid certification, based on an assessment by any of the SSIP Forum Member Schemes* as having met the Core Criteria, and Clients should not then require any further evidence at the prequalification stage.

Significance of Mutual Recognition

The terms of membership of the SSIP Forum means that all the members of the SSIP Forum are committed to mutually recognise each other’s standards of assessment. Therefore, any client wishing to procure the services of a business which has achieved certification by an SSIP Member Scheme can be confident that a reasonable and robust judgement has been made that the standard for organisational capability in CDM 2015 has been met, for the prequalification stage of procurement. CDM 2015 requires anybody who is employing or engaging a supplier to carry out construction work to take reasonable steps to ensure that they have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to fulfil that role, or if they are an organisation, the organisational capability.

Assurance by Annual Audit

HSE has a permanent non-voting role as a co-opted member on the SSIP Forum, and uses this role to ensure that an annual independent audit of the processes employed by each of the Member Schemes is carried out. The purpose of the audit is to ensure that the process of assessment carried out by any Member Scheme will be consistent and fit for purpose.

Client responsibility beyond pre-qualification

Possession of an SSIP Forum Member Scheme certification cannot be taken on its own as a sufficient assessment of organisational capability for a business to start construction work on site. All Clients should ensure that, before instructing an SSIP Member Scheme assessed business to start work, a project specific scrutiny of the supplier’s skills, track record and organisational capability is carried out. This scrutiny should satisfy the Client that the supplier can properly manage the risks presented by the work, on the project in hand.

Clients and suppliers also need to be clear that the Law does not require a third party prequalification assessment, such as that carried out by a SSIP Member Scheme. This is only one way of meeting prequalification standards. For example PAS 91 sets out a pre-qualification question set on health and safety which reflects the Core Criteria, and provides a self-assessment route for both clients and suppliers.

Clients may have a duty to determine a broader range of criteria than health and safety. For example, by enquiries about quality or environmental management. Remember that arrangements for mutual recognition under the SSIP Forum relate only to health and safety. The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) come into force on 6 April 2015. Learn more about what the CDM Regulations mean for you, including: the business benefits, your roles and responsibilities, and practical advice.

*With the exception of Constructionline, which does not carry out health and safety assessments to the Core Criteria