Nearly every Standard Selection Questionnaire (SSQ) features a health and safety section. As with all other sections of an SSQ, it is important to give these questions full attention, as a failure to answer them properly can exclude you from participating at ITT (invitation to tender) stage. It may be tempting to attach your health and safety policies and procedures, but there is a chance these might be outdated. Even if in date, this will not add value to your response and could ultimately lose you the contract.
To write a winning SSQ you must aim to score highly in each section. Irrespective of your industry, health and safety provides you with the opportunity to gain marks by evidencing safe systems of work that provide reassurance to the evaluator of low accident rates and the continuing safety of staff, members of the public and any other relevant stakeholders.
Most importantly, health and safety is evidence driven, so it is necessary to provide reassurance to the contracting authority that you can adhere to safe processes and procedures. There are many professional health and safety certifications and membership schemes available to companies, with leading and reputable examples including CHAS, Constructionline and SAFEcontractor, all of whom are part of the Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP) umbrella body. SSIP contains 25 registered members, as well as 25 certification body members offering ISO 45001 certification for health and safety management. Providing evidence of membership of any of these schemes can help to reinforce to the contracting authority that your organisation has a fully assessed and certified health and safety system in place. With a fully qualified and experienced health and safety advisor (where permitted, you can append their CV as evidence of their suitability), you can provide a wealth of supporting evidence to reassure the assessor of your capabilities. Having a health and safety advisor in place will also provide further assurance of your company’s awareness of any amended legislation or changes in best practice. For example, all relevant companies should have migrated to ISO 45001 since September 2021, when the previous standard, OHSAS 18001, was phased out.
Supporting Evidence and Compliance
As well as having a reputable image through certifications, it is vital to provide supporting evidence within your submission of all your policies and procedures. Standard evidence requested in the health and safety section of an SSQ response might include:
- Risk assessments and method statements (RAMS)
- Dynamic risk assessments
- Safe systems of work (SSoWs)
- Equipment assessments
- Fire hazard assessments.
You may even be asked to provide completed and anonymous assessments as evidence of everyday use, so make sure that you have these available.
It is important to show the contracting authority evidence of how your supporting documents are kept current. All policies, procedures and supporting documents should be regularly reviewed to ensure their suitability and compliance, signed by the responsible person and provided with a date of both the most recent review and the next scheduled review as evidence of your quality assurance processes. Having a designated health and safety advisor in place might help to facilitate and streamline this.
If necessary, you may be required to provide case studies to show how an issue has arisen and what steps were taken to competently and effectively respond to it. You will need to demonstrate how the systems you have in place were used to successfully manage the situation.
You will also frequently be asked to show how your health and safety systems are managed and integrated into all daily working practices, for example through:
- Toolbox talks
- Observations of staff
- External assessments/audits.
Further support can be provided through evidence of communication to, and the involvement of, employees/subcontractors in your health and safety processes. This might include providing evidence of the health and safety training with which they are provided, including how this is kept up to date (using a training matrix, for example).
Evidence of employee involvement might include communication of policies and procedures through meetings, emails and memoranda, as well as staff’s involvement in safety committee meetings/the production of RAMS. Guides such as HSE HSG263 provide advice for medium to large employers as to how to do this in accordance with best practice.
Added Value to Your SSQ Submission
Ultimately, the health and safety section of a SSQ exists so that the contracting authority is reassured that your company competently manages health and safety across all operations, and minimises and where appropriate eliminates risks. Demonstration of adherence to all health and safety aspects outlined in the specification, along with supporting evidence, can be the difference between you submitting a winning response and losing out to a competitor.
Additionally, added value can be achieved when responding to the health and safety section in an SSQ to ensure that you score as highly as possible, especially given the potential legal implications. You may be able to provide evidence of where you have worked with contacting authorities to implement or develop health and safety systems, showing that you can work in a site- and client-specific manner. Alternatively, you may implement contract- or site-specific health and safety training/inductions for staff. This will show that you are aware of general hazards, but also specific or previously unrecognised hazards inherent to the work provided under the contract tendered for, and that you can manage them safely.
The bid writing team at Executive Compass has extensive knowledge and experience in completing health and safety responses for a variety of industries. If you require help with a SSQ or tender, please do not hesitate to speak to one of our team today by calling 0191 338 6975 to see how we could add value to your submission. Find out more about our Standard Selection Writing Services here.
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