It is becoming very difficult to tender for work for councils, housing associations and larger clients without submitting your company to the scrutiny of third party safety assessment auditors. The workplace has become a very litigious place to operate in and the procuring client has to reduce the risk of accidents and ill health, together with limiting the liability of a negligence claim.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 specifies a strict legal duty of care for employers, or persons instructing work, to provide safe systems of work for the benefit of the workforce and also to those who may be affected by the work process. Clients (or instructing procurement teams) in the first instance have to prove that they have appointed properly resourced companies who are trained and competent to carry out the “contracted out” function or project.
WHAT YOUR ASSESSOR OR POTENTIAL CLIENT WANTS TO SEE
A signed and dated safety policy, which includes:
1. An organisation chart showing how your company divides up its legal duties and management responsibilities
2. A list and record of the training, vocational awards, certification and certificates of accreditation for specialist skills. In-house induction training, tool box talks checklist and safety awareness records and certificates should also be sent to the assessor - they show how your company deals with organising and training your workforce
3. The CV or accreditation of your third party safety advisors and/or your in-house safety manager.
Task relevant and site specific risk assessment procedures
Risk assessing work processes forms part of the safe working procedures and management systems of a company. Date your risk assessment to show when it was carried out, and give the name of the person who undertook it. The risk assessment itself should always show what residual risk the work person will be exposed to if the control measures are carefully observed. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states that it is a legal requirement to carry out risk assessments as your insurance cover is conditional on your correct identification of the inherent risks of your work.
(Control of substances hazardous to health)
For some work tasks, using acid based substances or solvent based materials are unavoidable. The assessor wants to see that you take formal steps to identify and consider safe working processes to reduce the risk of working with materials that might be hazardous to the health of the work force or people in the vicinity.
The assessor needs evidence that you carry out safe systems of work which are applied in a proactive manner. Binding up generic documentation and guidance will not convince even the most inexperienced safety auditor who will probably analyse your information with software designed to ensure that your responses are coherent, and in line with CDM Regulations and other regulations which demand that a company has demonstrable safe systems of work.
This section of your tender should include your waste removal plan, to show how you deal with regulatory requirements, and that you undertake the efficient dispensation of good environmental management techniques in a way that will not harm the environment.
Some assessors might ask for evidence of your proactive attitude to environmental management. They may want to verify that you have reached ISO14001 standard, or that you have undertaken an independent review of waste removal, recycling and energy use (See This month's 'Princebuild' article).
All your policies should include a proactive feedback process that is shown to work; ie one which generates a record to form an audit trail of responses, if the safe working procedures or system of work fail.
If anything does go wrong and an accident happens, a safety investigator or the safety inspector will look at the audit trail of an event leading up to the accident, so make sure that your audit trails and records show why you made certain decisions. Not only does the law require you to keep records, it can save an enormous amount of time if the prosecuting agency decides you have not acted in a reckless manner.
Always qualify your safety assessments with a ‘non exhaustive’ description, because each service bid will have different technical needs. The descriptions here mainly relate to the duty of care directors hold, the safe systems of work we employ in the workplace and how we proactively operate those systems; culminating in the need to keep records and show how we made decisions.
Assessors might ask to see other documents such as:
1. How you present your safety policies, new process information and workplace guidance to your workforce. (Employee handbooks, induction and management meetings etc)
2. Evidence of safety meetings attended by a good cross section of the company
3. Evidence about how you select and maintain safe working equipment and carry out PAT testing
4. Fire risk assessment in the office, workplace and mobile work site
5. Emergency procedures for staff and client’s employees
6. Risk assessment checklists which should be recorded in your company archives
7. Any job specific safety guidance manuals, specialist working procedures or common guidance for specific tasks, and information about how this knowledge is transferred to the workforce.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Improve your existing knowledge and safety documentation by visiting websites such as www.hse.gov.uk, www.envirowise.gov.uk
Have discussons with your team about how you can refresh your safe working procedures and the formal information you use in the workplace
Make your working documents eye catching - use colour and pictures to convey the safety message to users and safety auditors.
If you need help on the road to compliance, contact PH&S on 020 8778 7838 or visit www.healthandsafety.co.uk
They can mentor you, your managers and employees to help you to fill in the applications and put you on the right track.