Thursday, 26 April 2012

Making the Pre Qualification Tender Process Easier

  • Do you find yourself spending more and more time submitting H&S documentation for Pre Qualification Tender documentation? 
  •  Are you confused about what H&S Assessment Schemes you need –SMAS Worksafe, CHAS, Exor, Constructionline etc?
Hopefully, SSIP (Safety Schemes in Procurement) can make life a little easier.
Clients and Principal Contractors have a responsibility under H&S legislation (Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007) to ensure that any sub contractors they employ have appropriate H&S systems in place.
To comply with this responsibility, they either send out their own Pre Qualification Questionnaire and complete an assessment in-house or ask contractors to provide a valid H&S Scheme certificate, such as CHAS or SMAS Worksafe.
Whilst sending in a Scheme certificate saves a lot of time for both the Contractor and the Client, not all Clients ask for the same Scheme. This means that often contractors are required to obtain certificates from a number of Schemes – incurring a duplication of effort and cost.
Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP):
The revised Construction (Design & Management) Regulations, which came into force in April 2007, introduced the Stage 1 Core Criteria for assessing health and safety competence of contractors and consultants working in the construction industry. The introduction of these competence criteria provided an opportunity for existing Health and Safety prequalification schemes to build a common assessment standard.
As a result and with the support of the HSE, the SSIP Forum was created with the aim of cutting out duplication and costs in the pre Qualification process.
All SSIP Forum Member Schemes ( assess to the CDM Core Criteria and are audited annually by an independent Auditor appointed by SSIP to ensure quality standards are maintained. As a result, all SSIP Schemes are happy to recognise each other’s certificates. (See notes below regarding Constructionline.)
In effect this means that if you have gone through an assessment with a recognised SSIP Scheme you should not need to go through another full assessment with another SSIP recognised Scheme whilst your certificate remains valid. Instead, if you need to, you simply need to register and validate your original certificate with the other Scheme(s) at a much reduced rate.
Alongside the mutual recognition process, SSIP are also looking to educate Principal Contractors and Clients that they can save money and reduce administration by adopting an SSIP approach to Stage 1 assessments – simply asking contractors to provide a valid and in date certificate from any recognised SSIP Scheme. This will free up their resources to concentrate on the Stage 2 and on-site assessments.

Read on to find out more about the benefits and costs involved.....
What SSIP means for Contractors:
With more and more Clients adopting an SSIP approach, contractors can:
  • Reduce the need to send multiple H&S information packs out with PQQ responses. If the Client adopts an SSIP approach they simply need to submit their valid SSIP certificate. 
  • Even if the Client is insisting on a specific Scheme certificate they will often still accept another SSIP certificate as proof of competence. If they still insist on a specific Scheme you simply need to register your current SSIP certificate with the requested Scheme and will not need to complete another full assessment. Saving time and money.
Not all SSIP Schemes are the same:
Whilst each SSIP recognised scheme assess to the same criteria, it does not mean that they are all the same. Each Scheme has different questionnaire styles, charge different fees, take different times to complete assessments and offer different levels of support. Having reviewed many of the SSIP Schemes and talked to a number of our Clients these differences can be quite considerable.
As all SSIP Schemes recognise each other’s certificate it means that the choice of SSIP Scheme is down to you and so you can identify the Scheme that best meets your needs.
We have found that many of our Clients are now choosing the SMAS Worksafe Scheme ( it:

  • Offers value for money at £120 + vat. With no extra hidden costs for certificates etc
  • Provides a clear and easy to follow Application form 
  • Offers telephone access to an experienced team of in-house assessors and 
  • Can be achieved quickly - assessments are normally completed with 3-5 days of receiving the necessary documentation.
 Once approved by SMAS the contractors details will be visible to all of their Clients including the likes of Persimmon, Charles Church, Miller and Bloor Homes. This means that contractors will be visible to some key buyers within the construction industry.
Constructionline require as part of their registration process that a health and safety questionnaire is completed by the supplier.

It is important to note however that this is a self-certification of health and safety compliance and Constructionline do not check the validity of the information provided.

Constructionline leave any checking that may be required to the buyer to carry out. However, if the Constructionline applicant is already registered with a SSIP health and safety competence assessment scheme, this replaces the requirement for the health and safety questions to be answered.

The difference between the Constructionline health and safety questionnaire and a third party SSIP competence certification is that the latter is assessed and validated, whereas the Constructionline questionnaire is not.

For this reason SSIP registered schemes do not recognise Constructionline as being an automatic demonstration of health and safety competence.

If you would like to know more about the SSIP scheme, please visit or contact Nick Elford on 01752 697371.

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