Increasingly to prove competence and protect scaffolding standards, contractors must undertake multiple pre-qualification processes depending on client preference, with PAS 91 being the specification that most pre-qualification questions are based on. Stacey Underhill from the Scaffolding Association takes a look at the different levels of audit available to scaffolding contractors needing to pre-qualify.
Pre-qualification is an essential aspect of tendering for a scaffolding contract. And to be eligible for pre-qualification, scaffolding contractors need to demonstrate that they possess, or have access to, what’s required to undertake work and deliver services for potential buyers.
PAS 91 is a publicly available specification (PAS) that sets out the content, format and use of questions that are widely applicable to pre-qualification for construction tendering. There are three types of assessment – from Level 1 at the high end to Level 3 at the low end – that can be carried out to assess that a potential tenderer meets the requirements of PAS 91.
The PAS 91 Three Assurance Level Model
Level 1: Verification and assessment of supplier
This includes an audit typically involving onsite verification and outcome assessment, before accepting the supplier as meeting the requirements. This is the most certain option for buyers but potentially the most complex for pre-qualifying contractors. It is preferable where high levels of assurance are essential or simply sought by the buyer.
Level 2: Validated assessment
Within this assessment level, activities include, for example, obtaining copies of certificates and gathering details of company procedures and approach to scaffolding standards. This commonly includes what is referred to as ‘desktop’ assessment. This level provides more certainty for buyers than the minimum assessment offered by the self-assessment approach of Level 3.
Level 3: Self assessment
To be assessed at this level, the supplier completes a questionnaire and makes statements about their work and certifications. Minimal verification activity is carried out. Although this is the cheapest solution, it is the least-certain option for buyers.
Why get audited to the highest level?
The move by the Scaffolding Association to offer an Audited Membership level for scaffolding contractors has been welcomed by house builders, local authorities and major contractors who now recognise the benefit of Association members on their tender lists and construction sites.
Clugston Construction’s health and safety manager, Mark Atkinson, commented: “By using Audited
Members of the Scaffolding Association we can be confident that we are procuring contractors that have demonstrated their skills, knowledge and experience through a trusted process.”
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