There are a number of pieces of legislation that may be relevant to the contract you are looking to procure and your appointed supplier will need to be competent to adhere to these. There two main Health and Safety related Acts:
- Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
- Environment and Safety Information Act 1988
plus a number of Statutory Regulations that might be relevant to the contract you are procuring:
- Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015
- Control of Asbestos Regulations 2002
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended)
- Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
- Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992
- Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981
- Health and Safety (Leasing Arrangements) Regulations 1992
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
- Personal Protective Equipment (Enforcement) Regulations 2018
- Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013
- Work at Height Regulations 2007
The HSE website has more information on the Acts and Regulations that could apply.
It’s essential for buying organisations to choose safe and responsible suppliers.
One way a potential supplier can demonstrate competence in health and safety is to be accredited by a third party. This is also known as conformity assessment. Accreditation schemes originated in the construction sector, but are now used more widely.
The law does not require accreditation, and it’s only one way of meeting prequalification standards when buying or supplying goods and services.
For construction work, being certificated against a scheme is not proof that an organisation can properly manage the risks presented by the work on site. So, buyers will also need to check a supplier can meet project-specific site requirements.
Before asking a supplier to start work, check their skills and track record, too.
Buying low-risk goods or services
If you’re buying goods or services, consider if the risks of the job justify insisting a supplier has a formal health and safety accreditation. This includes certification against health and safety management system standards.
For low-risk goods or services, suppliers can demonstrate their health and safety capability in other ways. You could ask:
- for evidence that they hold a health and safety policy
- how they control risks
Or, you could ask:
- for information on accidents or near misses
- if, in the last 3 years, the organisation, or any of its directors or executive officers have:
- received enforcement notices from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or equivalent body
- been convicted of a breach of health and safety legislation
Bear in mind that businesses with fewer than 5 employees don’t need to write down their health and safety policy or the findings of a risk assessment.
Mutual recognition between accreditation schemes
There are various schemes buyers (procurers) can ask suppliers to be accredited to.
Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP) is an organisation which enables mutual recognition (also known as the ‘deemed to satisfy’ provision) between health and safety assessment schemes, particularly within the construction industry.
SSIP member schemes apply core criteria approved by HSE. The core criteria describe what it means for a construction business to comply with basic health and safety law, but they can also be applied to other kinds of business.
This means that:
- as a buyer, you do not need to ask for evidence of accreditation to more than one of the SSIP member schemes
- as a supplier, you should only need to be accredited to one of the SSIP member schemes
If a buyer insists on a different SSIP scheme, you can apply to have the equivalence of your existing accreditation recognised through the SSIP mutual recognition provision. This should save you time and money.
Mutual recognition should lead to savings for buyers and suppliers and help deliver more proportionate implementation of accreditation.
Further guidance is available from the HSE Using Contractors Guide.
Buyers should also make an effort to check that their suppliers continue to adhere to the law and that suppliers’ claims during the procurement process are a true reflection of what they are actually doing, months and even years into the future.
It is your responsibility as a business to ensure that you are compliant with all laws and legislations, and moreover that you’re a responsible employer who goes the extra mile by taking diligent care of your staff. However, it’s also your responsibility to ensure that your suppliers uphold the same standards to prevent your entire ethos from being put at risk.