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Evaluating pre-qualification questionnaires and tender submissions
Management of health and safety
As the client you need to be certain that the contractor has the organisational structures in place and arrangements to make sure what it says it will do in fact gets done, ie a management structure and system for occupational health and safety.
Does the contractor have a policy, authorised by the most senior executive, outlining clearly the organisation’s commitment to and intentions for managing occupational health and safety?
Look at the overall policy and confirm that there is a named senior officer (director) with responsibility for implementing the safety management system.
Is the policy appropriate to the nature and scale of the organisation’s occupational health and safety risks?
Are roles, responsibilities, accountabilities and authorities documented and communicated?
Has it been reviewed/updated to ensure that it remains relevant and appropriate to the organisation?
Check the contractor’s monitoring and review procedures to make sure safe systems of work are operated in practice and are effective.
Check the contractor’s procedure for selecting, monitoring and maintaining hardware.
Check the contractor’s procedures to monitor and measure occupational health and safety performance on a regular basis.
Such measures should include both proactive (eg training, planned preventative maintenance) and reactive (eg ill health, incidents including accidents, near misses) measures.
Look at the contractor’s ability to record, investigate and learn from incidents (its investigation procedure).
Does the contractor undertake regular management review and audits of the occupational health and safety management system to ensure its continuing suitability, adequacy and effectiveness?
Hazard identification, risk assessment and determining controls
Does the contractor have a procedure for ongoing hazard identification, risk assessment and determination of necessary controls?
Do they demonstrate that the contractor has adequately assessed the risks?
Do they come to similar conclusions as your own risk assessments?
Do they cover risks such as manual handling, slips and trips, workplace transport, violence etc?
Do they demonstrate that the contractor has competence in health and safety?
Do they identify any areas of high risk?
Do they realistically relate to your work areas or are they likely to be generic at this stage of the process?
Are they appropriate to adequately cover the risks in your work environment to enable you to evaluate the bid?
At the early stages of the tender process where multiple bids are being considered, generic documentation may be more appropriate than towards the end nearing a final decision where more contract specific documents may be required.
Statements of safe working practices/operational instructions
These are developed using the findings of the risk assessments to define how the risks will be adequately controlled. They should therefore be examined with care. For example, with handling bags:
Is there a method of safe working which details how sharps injuries will be controlled, how manual handling risks will be addressed, how working in the road will be covered?
Is there evidence that the contractor has taken into account the relevant available HSE or industry guidance in determining methods of safe working?
Do the controls identified follow the accepted hierarchy, ie elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, and use of personal protective equipment?
As a client are you able to confidently determine from the safe working method that the contractor will have systems to control these risks?
Are the systems clearly presented to those who will have to use them?
Are they clearly written, using appropriate language and terminology?
Do they adequately describe the precautions, actions and behaviours necessary for safe working?
Do they describe the consequences of failing to adhere to them?
How will the statements of safe working practice be reviewed subject to specific information relating to the service in question?
Qualifications, training and competence
Is the contractor able to demonstrate that they have effective procedures and processes in place to ensure that its employees (including agency workers) are competent by providing appropriate training and experience?
How do they identify training needs?
Do they keep records?
Check the health and safety qualifications and training of managers and supervisors within the organisation, particularly those relevant to your contract.
Check what induction and other training is given to employees (including agency workers) on key issues such as manual handling, working roadside, control of manoeuvring vehicles, violence to staff, and sharps.
Check on the delivery and format of the training and training aids given to take into account workforce diversity (eg ability, language skills, literacy).
An organisations commitment to training can be demonstrated by externally verified training, such as that covered by the WAMITAB S/NVQ standards. There are statutory Certificates of Technical Competence in areas such as landfill, incineration and civic amenity sites and a range of S/NVQs from levels 1-4 in topics such as waste collection, kerbside collection and recycling.
Bidders should be able to impress you with evidence showing that their staff are competent to address the risks presented by the contract, and where appropriate that they would be able to develop the culture and competence of staff who would transfer over to their control if they won the contract.
Communication, participation and consultation
Can the contractor demonstrate that it has procedures and processes in place to ensure effective communication internally and externally?
Can the contractor show that it has established, implemented and maintained procedures for effective consultation with (and participation of) workers?
Is the contract adequately resourced? This includes a wide range of hardware and organisational matters.
Hardware would include layout and resources provided at the base location, number and type of vehicles (and their maintenance provisions), and provisions for PPE.
Organisational matters would include workforce profile (crew headcount, reliance on agency operatives, absence cover), levels of supervision – particular the ability to provide frequent face-to-face supervision in the field of operations, and contingency arrangements to cover unplanned situations such as sickness and emergencies.
References and history
Do the references you have obtained give you confidence in the abilities of the contractor to deliver a safe and healthy service?
Are they responsive to your further queries?
Use other sources of information, such as accreditation schemes and the HSE enforcement and prosecution databases. But it is important to use these carefully as there is naturally a greater chance of a large company appearing on these. And the fact that a company does not appear on the database does not necessarily suggest compliance, nor does a company’s inclusion imply continuing non-compliance.
If a contractor does have enforcement history you should be willing and prepared to ask them what lessons they learnt and critically what measures they have taken to remedy matters to ensure no further repetition.