Taking the lead in procurement

Appointing competent suppliers

Clients have a key responsibility, which they share with their suppliers, for the health and safety of everyone who works at their premises. This means that Clients must make sure that any suppliers they appoint are competent to do their work.

For construction work, Clients have legal duties to carry out health and safety assessments of Principal Contractors, Principal Designers (who must be appointed for larger projects) Contractors and Designers. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have set out how these assessments should be carried out in the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015). There are numerous companies and other organisations that operate assessment schemes that can help Clients to carry out the first stage of a competence assessment.

It can be difficult for some Clients, especially small and medium sized enterprises, and those that do not regularly procure construction work, to decide which of these schemes meet their needs. The Safety Schemes in Procurement Forum (SSIP Forum) has been established to set a threshold for competence assessments. This threshold is based on the SSIP Core Criteria. Assessment schemes that are members of the SSIP Forum recognise Stage 1 assessments that are carried out by other Member Schemes.

How SSIP Forum can help a client

Clients can be assured that suppliers who have been assessed and certificated by an SSIP Forum Member Scheme have achieved the initial threshold of competence to provide specific services. Clients should note that using these schemes will not absolve them of any liability and that SSIP Forum certification fulfils only the first stage of any assessment of competence.

Using an SSIP Forum Member Scheme for this initial assessment allows Clients to concentrate on Stage 2 of the procurement process. The Stage 2 assessment will ensure that suppliers have and maintain: appropriate experience to carry out specific work in specific locations; suitably trained staff, and; other resources all available to do the work to meet the Client's needs.

Many of the SSIP Forum Member Schemes may be able to assist Clients with their wider duties, including monitoring performance and the continuing competence of suppliers, and auditing the Clients own health and safety arrangements.