Good business is built on cooperation. Partnering with others can achieve results that neither side could manage alone. Working as a contractor is a win-win. You can focus on the thing you do best, while the client can enjoy the benefits of specialised workers, without having to hire them permanently.
Whatever your industry, things can get competitive. Clients are spoilt for choice, so you’ll need to do everything you can to give yourself the edge. One possible dealbreaker could be your health and safety record. Companies won’t want to partner with anyone they don’t trust to be safe on their site. Many clients won’t even consider tender applications from contractors who can’t prove their safety credentials. This is where accreditation can help.
What are the advantages of accreditation?
Gaining an official health and safety accreditation has several benefits:
- Larger clients are more likely to require official H&S credentials. Gaining accreditation can thus give you access to more lucrative contracts and greater business opportunities.
- Accreditation shows that you take health and safety seriously. This demonstrates that you are trustworthy, which of course reflects well on the rest of your business.
- Bidding for contracts without accreditation often means completing a pre-application. If you are bidding on several contracts, you will have to repeat this process multiple times. Accreditation allows you to skip this step, saving you time and money.
What accreditations are there?
There are three main health and safety accreditations for UK contractors. While they all work in much the same way, each has its own unique characteristics.
CHAS (The Contractors’ Health & Safety Assessment Scheme) is the UK’s best known safety accreditation for contractors. It takes the form of an annual audit of your company’s health and safety practices.
The most basic CHAS accreditation is the CHAS Health and Safety Assessment. This can be completed online without the need for a site visit. Businesses who want a more advanced accreditation can opt for CHAS Premier, also known as the Common Assessment Standard. This covers 12 key areas of risk management, including modules on environmental and financial risk.
One of the main advantages of CHAS is that it helps clients to connect with contractors. Clients can join CHAS for free and use the scheme’s online portal to find approved contractors in a matter of minutes. Joining CHAS as a contractor is the only way to ensure that you’ll be included in these searches.
The SMAS (Safety Management Advisory Services) Worksafe scheme has 25,000 members, making it one of the UK’s most popular safety accreditations. The scheme specialises in construction, education and social care, but is not limited to these sectors.
Accreditation takes between two and five days, but a 24-hour fast track service is also available. Like CHAS, clients can access an online portal to connect with accredited contractors.
SafeContractor is a comprehensive scheme that covers not just health and safety, but also diversity, equal opportunities and environmental risk management. Although it is usually associated with construction, it can be applied to other sectors as well.
All three schemes are recognised by the SSIP (Safety Systems in Procurement). This is an umbrella organisation that aims to standardise UK health and safety accreditation schemes. Most clients will accept any accreditation that is endorsed by SSIP, but this is ultimately at the client’s discretion.
We’re here to help
Whichever accreditation you choose, the requirements are stringent. You will need to provide detailed evidence of your health and safety policies and procedures. This will include:
- Your health and safety policy
- Risk assessments
- Maintenance records
- Insurance information
- Details of onsite training
- Evidence of safety certification
This is a lot to think about, and missing something could mean starting the whole process again. We’ve helped with numerous CHAS, SMAS and SafeContractor applications. So we know exactly what is required. Our experts can guide you through the process so that you can get your accreditation as soon as possible. Contact your local Health & Safety Dept to get started.