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Health and safety at heart of battle to cut red tape

The government has pledged to cut £10bn worth of costs to small businesses created by the burden of “red tape”.

According to B&ES president Andy Sneyd, one of the main areas of frustration and expense to small contractors is health and safety pre-qualification assessments. 

“The proliferation of different schemes in the construction industry costs specialist contractors over £40m a year, with firms often forced to join several competing schemes, each with their own criteria, creating a huge and costly administrative burden so they can tender for projects,” he said.

Research recently carried out by the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group showed that contractors spend an average of nine days a year on paperwork relating to the different schemes.

The B&ES has been working hard for a number of years to help its members avoid this duplication of effort and was one of the original members of the SSIP – Safety Schemes in Procurement – initiative supported by the government and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

Members of the SSIP Forum – including Constructionline, the Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme (CHAS), Exor Management Services and the National House Building Council, among others – agreed to mutually recognise each other’s schemes, meaning that contractors who join one scheme automatically pre-qualify under the others.

This ensures compliance with the bovernment-backed construction pre-qualification document PAS 91, with specific reference to the new Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

The health and safety element of CAS has now moved online and off the “physical” desktop to make the process of achieving accreditation more straightforward.

The system allows members to upload and save all the necessary policies and documents needed to complete the assessment. 

Mr Sneyd added: “Mutual recognition between schemes also levels the playing field for specialist engineering firms of all sizes and does not penalise those who lack the resources to deal with the administrative demands of multiple schemes.

“It has the potential to significantly reduce overheads and could make all the difference to contractors’ increasingly slim profit margins.”

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