CHAS stands for the Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme. CHAS is a health and safety accreditation scheme for the construction industry, and often acts as a type of pre-qualification during the tender process. Some buyers will require CHAS to be gained before they will allow you to tender, and this is being seen more often in public procurements such as for councils, schools and other public sector bodies.
The purpose of CHAS is to help both buyers and suppliers in the assessment of health and safety competence. Helping buyers by reducing the lengthy process of assessing contractors health and safety standards individually. Helping suppliers (contractors) by reducing the time consuming process on completing and submitting full details of health and safety processes on each project they compete for.
CHAS can be used to assess the health and safety competence of designers, CDM coordinators, construction and non-construction related contractors, who will complete sections of the questionnaire specific to the type of business. For example, a designer would not require the same level of health and safety management as a main contractor, as their workforce is exposed to different levels of risk.
The application process can be confusing to those unfamiliar with the procedure. You first need to gain CHAS compliance, through the assessment form. Once you have completed the assessment form, and been assessed asCHAS compliant, you can then apply to be CHAS accredited. This can confuse some organisations going through the CHAS assessment for the first time. Applying for CHAS accreditation is subject to an additional fee (currently £60) on top of the assessment fee (for compliance). With accreditation you will be committing to annual assessments to show you are maintaining the high levels of health and safety management required, but you will also get a number of extras. You will be provided with a certificate, and be allowed to use the CHAS logo. You will also be exempt from other scheme H&S questionnaires such as Constructionline – which can save you time gaining other accreditations for your business.
While basic compliance will allow you to be found by buyers, ultimately many buyers will see this compliance as outdated once 12 months has passed anyway. Buyers are also likely to ask to see a copy of your CHAS certificate as evidence and this is provided with accreditation only. Since you have already gone through the full assessment to get compliance, it is worthwhile to pay the additional fee and get the full accreditation for annual assessment, your certificate plus the additional benefits provided.
There has been some recent correspondence from CHAS indicating that they will move towards annual assessments for everyone, which I think will help to reduce the current confusion between compliance and accreditation.