Health and safety conformity assessment schemes


One way an organisation can demonstrate competence in health and safety is to be assessed by a third party. This is also known as conformity assessment. Health and safety conformity assessment schemes originated in the construction sector, but are now used more widely.

The law does not require conformity assessment, and it's only one way of meeting prequalification standards, whether you are supplying or buying goods and services.

For construction work, assessment against a scheme (whether under Safety Schemes in Procurement or otherwise) 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 that a supplier registers with a scheme, including 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;
  • of 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 assessment schemes

There are various schemes buyers (procurers) can ask suppliers to be assessed against.

Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP) is an organisation which enables mutual recognition (known as the 'deem to satisfy' provision – see Mutual RecogniMutual Recognition of Certificates via Deem to Satisfy (DtS) tion of Certificates via Deem to Satisfy (DtS) between health and safety assessment schemes, particularly within the construction industry.

SSIP member schemes apply core criteria approved by HSE – see SSIP core criteria threshold standard. 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 assessment against more than one SSIP member scheme;
  • as a supplier, you should only need to be assessed against one of the SSIP member schemes, as the valid (in-date) assessment information for your organisation will be available via the SSIP portal to assist both current and future buyers.

If a buyer insists a supplier registers with more than one SSIP member scheme, the supplier can apply for a deem to satisfy certificate. This provides full recognition of the health and safety elements of the first scheme the supplier has been assessed against, and will be valid as an alternative to registering again under a new scheme. 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.

Find out more on the SSIP website.

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Updated: 2024-02-01