A new competence scheme for assessors has been launched to assist with the verification of health and safety arrangements in construction.

Individuals who carry out Stage 1 Core Criteria (pre-qualification) assessments for constructors who are members of the Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP) forum can now apply for certification by the International Register of Certified Auditors. The IRCA scheme is being actively encouraged by the HSE and SSIP members, with successful completion of the IRCA-approved SSIP assessor-training course being mandatory for all assessors working under the SSIP scheme.

IRCA director Simon Feary said: “We are delighted that [this] scheme will be used to set the standard for health and safety assessors working in construction. The scheme will provide the benchmark for the assessors responsible for ensuring that an organisation’s health and safety arrangements are to standard. It should also provide assurance for those companies commissioning sub-contracting services and provide greater consistency in ensuring health and safety standards across the industry.”

Philip White, the HSE’s chief inspector of construction, said it will help the construction industry “have confidence” that assessors who are carrying out pre-qualification health and safety assessments for SSIP members have the necessary training and experience to do the job in a practical and proportionate manner”.

The Stage One assessment applies to a company’s health and safety arrangements and determines if they are sufficient to enable the organisation to carry out construction work safely and without risk to health. This competency assessment extends to organisations as well as principal contractors, contractors, designers, and CDM coordinators.

The SSIP forum is the group of more than 17 assessment bodies that carry out Stage One assessments and consists of about 300 assessors.

To apply, or find out more about the IRCA SSIP scheme, visit www.irca.org/certification/certification_17.html