The Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP) Scheme: enhancing health and safety competence in the UK construction industry

UKAS supports the Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP) Scheme, enhancing health and safety competence within the UK construction sector through a robust and impartial assessment approach.

In the UK construction industry, ensuring the health and safety competence of contractors and consultants is of utmost importance. To streamline this process and promote mutual recognition among existing health and safety prequalification schemes, the Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP) scheme was established. This information explains the background of SSIP, its role, the SSIP threshold standard, types of assessments conducted by SSIP members, the evolution of the SSIP sector scheme, and the importance of UKAS accreditation in ensuring industry competence standards.

Background to SSIP

The introduction of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM Regulations) brought about Stage 1 Core Criteria for assessing the health and safety competence of contractors and consultants in the construction industry. This provided the foundation for SSIP to formalise mutual recognition among existing health and safety prequalification schemes. The SSIP scheme was further enhanced with the introduction of the Health and Safety pre-qualification in the 2013 edition of the Government-backed construction pre-qualification document PAS 91. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) played a crucial role in the formation and support of the SSIP Forum, viewing certification from an SSIP scheme member as compliance with the Core Criteria requirements.

The role of SSIP and its members

SSIP plays a vital role in consolidating and building confidence in Stage 1 pre-qualification in the UK construction industry. SSIP members, have signed mutual recognition agreements, allowing for the recognition of health and safety certification issued by one SSIP member by other SSIP member schemes.  This is either via a “one-way” or a “two-way” agreement determined by the type of certification.

Mutual Recognition Agreements

Mutual recognition agreements are at the core of SSIP, enabling businesses to demonstrate compliance with the SSIP Core Criteria. This recognition is achieved through the Deem to Satisfy (DtS) agreement in place between all member schemes. As long as a valid entry is held on the SSIP Portal [] health and safety assessments completed by one SSIP member scheme are recognised by others. This mutual recognition streamlines the prequalification process for contractors and consultants, reducing the time and cost burdens associated with repeated pre-qualification.

Centralised verification database

To facilitate the verification process, SSIP maintains a centralised database [the SSIP portal] listing over 80,000 suppliers assessed by SSIP member schemes. This portal provides a comprehensive and easily accessible source of information for clients and buyers in a range of industries including construction, transport, retail, healthcare, manufacturing and engineering sectors.  Detailed CDM dutyholders and SSIP categories for each SSIP member can be found on the official SSIP website.

The SSIP threshold standard

The SSIP Threshold Standard, also known as the SSIP Core Criteria, confirms organisational capability and compliance with UK health and safety standards. It serves as the benchmark for mutual recognition among SSIP members. Compliance with the SSIP Core Criteria is determined through two types of assessments conducted by SSIP members.

Types of assessments

SSIP members carry out two types of assessments to confirm compliance with the SSIP Core Criteria. The first is a “desk-top” health and safety assessment, which evaluates the organisation’s policies, procedures, documentation and supporting evidence. The second type of assessment involves obtaining an ISO 45001 certificate issued in conjunction with the SSIP Sector Scheme. Both assessment types ensure organisations meet the required health and safety standards.

Evolution of the SSIP scheme

UKAS and SSIP Ltd have been collaborating to implement the UKAS SSIP Sector Scheme since 2017. The SSIP Sector Scheme has evolved from Certification Body organizations issuing ISO 45001 certificates under ISO/IEC 17021:2015 to Inspection Bodies conducting desk-top health and safety assessments under ISO/IEC 17020:2012.

The creation of the SSIP Sector Scheme aims to enhance industry competence standards for health and safety assessment schemes. Accreditation to ISO/IEC 17020:2012 demonstrates SSIP’s commitment to impartiality, conflict of interest management, and the technical competence of personnel involved in the assessment process. UKAS accreditation for all SSIP member schemes conducting health and safety assessments ensures the verification of skills, knowledge, experience, and behaviours of both individuals and organisations.

UKAS accreditation and SSIP

UKAS accreditation plays a crucial role in ensuring the credibility and reliability of SSIP member schemes. It validates SSIP’s corporate values and commitment to maintaining high standards in health and safety assessments. The collaboration between UKAS and SSIP provides confidence to clients, buyers, and stakeholders that the assessments conducted by SSIP member schemes meet the increased requirements of UK health and safety legislation and industry demands.

Competency is a critical factor in building safety, and SSIP’s transition to audit and accreditation under ISO/IEC 17020 ensures the adaptation to evolving industry requirements. The increased focus on competency in health and safety assessments reinforces the commitment to uphold high standards and promote a safer working environment. UKAS accreditation for SSIP registered members ensures a consistent, reliable, and quality-controlled standard of assessment by qualified and competent assessors.

The Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP) scheme plays a pivotal role in the UK construction industry by enhancing health and safety competence and promoting mutual recognition among prequalification schemes. Through its members, SSIP streamlines the prequalification process, reduces time and cost burdens, and provides a centralised verification database for clients and buyers. The SSIP Threshold Standard and types of assessments carried out by SSIP members ensure compliance with UK health and safety standards. The evolution of the SSIP Sector Scheme, in collaboration with UKAS, further strengthens the industry’s competence standards. UKAS accreditation validates the impartiality, technical competence, and reliability of SSIP member schemes, fostering trust and confidence in the assessment process. By emphasising competency in building safety, SSIP and UKAS contribute to the overall goal of creating a safer and more secure working environment in the construction industry.