CHAS is a registration scheme that has been developed for pretty much any construction-related firm (large or small) to register for. It was designed to set a standard and so actually gaining accreditation can be a bit tricky. If you have never had to stop and document ‘how’ each element of the work is managed for good health and safety, the whole process of becoming CHAS approved can be a nightmare.
There is a solution though and that is to take some advice from a CHAS Consultant who can not only guide you through the application, but also assist you with the additional documentation that you will need.
Construction Site inspections across Britain have in a some cases lead to enforcement notices being issued to construction companies or in some cases, prosecutions for very serious breaches of the legislation.
It was pleasing to hear that the HSE had praised some Scunthorpe construction sites for adhering to strict regulations to protect their workers. The Health And Safety Executive (HSE) inspected 52 refurbishment sites in South Yorkshire and the Humber region, which includes Scunthorpe, and involved about 75 contractors.
In total, ten sites were deemed to be so far below required standards that inspectors had to issue formal enforcement notices. However, unlike neighbouring towns and cities such as Hull and Grimsby, no action needed to be taken in Scunthorpe.
HSE inspector Hazel Dobb, who co-ordinated the Construction Initiative in South Yorkshire and Humber, said standards on some sites, including two in Scunthorpe, had improved.
“Inspectors did report that on many sites, standards were generally higher and with better use of the right access solutions and tools for the job, however, despite these examples of good practice, which the industry can learn from, the fact that we found unsafe conditions on one in five sites is totally unacceptable. Companies have a responsibility to protect their workers, to help rid construction of its reputation as being one of the UK’s most dangerous industries.”
Figures released by the HSE for 2009/10 showed a total of 833 construction injuries and six deaths in the region as a whole. Of these, 58 were recorded in North and North East Lincolnshire.
Ms Dobb said: “This is the fifth year of the inspection initiative and it is disappointing to find many construction sites taking the same unnecessary risks with their workers’ lives. What is of most concern is that the over-riding failure concerned work at height – eight of the ten prohibition notices related this type of serious safety breach.”
Of the 52 visits in parts of South Yorkshire and Humber, inspectors issued nine prohibition notices, eight of which related to unsafe work being carried out at height.
Two improvement notices were also served for premises where there were unacceptable practices for fire precautions and asbestos management. Six enforcement notices were served in Hull, two in Sheffield and one each in Grimsby, Rotherham and Bridlington. No action needed to be taken from visits in Scunthorpe, Barnsley and Doncaster.
Now it is important to note that attaining CHAS will never ‘sheild’ you from action taken by the HSE, it will improve your understanding of what is required and how you can ensure high standards with some very minor alterations to practice.
The process of CHAS application is often best supported by a CHAS Consultant, that is, someone who is familiar with the approval process and can assist you along the way.
A CHAS Consultant should be in a position to complete the form with you, but also importantly, be able to provide additional documentation that is suitable for your business and will document the evidence that CHAS require.
Try not to see CHAS as a paperwork approval and more as guidance as to the standard even a very small business can achieve with sensible Health and Safety measures and documentation in place.
Documented Risk Assessments, Method Statements and Health and Safety Policy and all crucial components of the CHAS Application along with a means to properly assess any sub-contractors and to maintain records of straight-forward checks on your equipment and tools.
A CHAS Consultant will normally have a variety of tools available for you to use, should also be willing to mentor you through the process and can even document many items for you that will serve your business well for all Health & safety issues in the future.
Remember, the CHAS Consultant you choose should be able to maintain a good relationship between each annual application, so select someone that you can work with and get the most benefit from.
CHAS is a very popular accreditation scheme these days with all kinds of Organisations wanting an approved SSIP scheme. CHAS is perhaps the simplest of all of the health and safety approved assessment schemes, in that whilst all of them require comprehensive evidence, the CHAS application form is a lot less daunting!
Sadly, this is often where those applying for CHAS can be lulled into a false sense of security and receive a rather brisk reply on their email asking for more information from the CHAS Assessor. CHAS is helpful, in that it provides more information regarding the expectations of the CHAS accreditation than other schemes and you do get to see the application form before deciding to apply!
CHAS assessors are generally very helpful at directing applicants towards the evidence that is needed, though if you are unprepared, it can still feel very intimidating as to what is required. Applying for CHAS then should be a planned like any aspect of your organisation’s processes. Do not leap in without understanding what the application (and any feedback from the CHAS assessor) will involve. Ideally, plan a CHAS audit prior to committing to the process and get some decent advice from a CHAS experienced health and safety consultant.
CHAS can truly open doors that were not open before, since SSIPs are becoming more common for all types of large organisations looking to contract work out. CHAS may well be a very useful key to open those doors.
Get sensible CHAS guidance by giving us a call or dropping us an email – we can help.
Whilst we all like to focus on getting it right – it is important to understand how things can go wrong with your CHAS Application.
Really, there are three key areas to get right:
1 The Application Form
It is important to answer all of the questions that are appropriate for the level of Application. There are lots of levels of application, so it’s importrant to apply within the correct category. The questions are straightforward, though many applicants fail to indicate where in their supporting documentation this is addressed.
2 Safety Information Pack
The Safety Information Pack (SIP) is the collection of all the supporting documents that you will submit with your Application. Rarely, do applicants check that they have included all of the information requested by the application. This in itself is not a disaster, though at times submissions are made with very poor information in the SIP.
This is probably the biggest issue – poor SIP documents can lead to a total failure in your Application (along with your fee). Whilst this does not preclude you from re-applying, you will want to be assurred that the SIP documents will be of an acceptable standard!
3 Replying to Assessor Requests
The CHAS Assessor will often request additiona explanation, evidence or documentation to cover all of the CHAS criteria effectively. There is a limited timescale in which to reply and this is often when things do not go to plan.
We are all easily distracted by the ‘real world activities’ in everyday business, but before you know where you are a month has passed, since the CHAS assessor asked for information to be submitted and often the time to reply before re-application has gone.
To manage these issues effectively, we suggest that you have an experienced Health & Safety Consultant examine your existing Health & Safety Documentation, BEFORE completing a CHAS application with you. That way if there are any large ‘holes’, they can be dealt with, before making the application to CHAS.
CHAS has 2 major objectives, namely, to improve health and safety standards nationwide and reduce duplication in the Tendering process for both supplying companies and buying organisations.
Every month, there are 1000′s of interested contractors looking for opportunities with both the Public Sector and larger Private companies and in order to be able to properly assess these potential suppliers, buyers need a standard to work to as a minimum. This is where CHAS comes in as a means to assess Health and Safety.
As you can imagine, assessing standards of Health & Safety for even just a handful of potential Suppliers would be very involved and demand a fair amount of time and at times, some suppliers can meet a buyer’s expectations about Health and Safety standards but then not meet the standards or another – this can clearly be frustrating on everyone involved – both the Buyers and Suppliers.
Gaining CHAS Approval, greatly reduces the amount of duplication in time and effort requirted of Buying organisations, simply because it is a minimum national standard applied to everyone. So, gaining CHAS approval can be a very useful way to open the door to Tendering opportunities or simply dealing with organisations that want some assurrances about your Health & Safety standards.
If you would like to find out more about CHAS you can visit the CHAS official site here
then give us a call or email us with any questions – we’ll be happy to help you.