Originally launched in 2019 under its first phase of operation, 2021 has seen the full rollout of the Common Assessment Standard — news that no construction company should ignore. Given that the Common Assessment Standard is still in its infancy, it’s no surprise that many organisations are still uncertain as to what it is, why it’s here, and what the benefits of the Common Assessment Standard are.
This article is your introduction to the new Common Assessment Standard and explains why this development is worth paying attention to.
What is the Common Assessment Standard?
The Common Assessment Standard is a new form of regulatory compliance and risk assessment accreditation, covering 12 modules:
- Identity — Verification that you’re legally able to operate within the UK.
- Financial — Audit of steps taken to reduce financial risks.
- Corporate and Professional Standing — A look into your corporate and professional standing relating to criminal activity, corruption, terrorism and human trafficking.
- Health and Safety — Demonstration of your ability to protect onsite workers and visitors.
- Environmental — Coverage of steps taken to reduce your environmental impact.
- Quality — Preventive risk assessment to identify service quality and potential issues.
- Equality — Assessment of company equality and diversity measures.
- Corporate Social Responsibility — Analysis of how your company impacts society.
- Information Security and GDPR — Compliance checks around data protection.
- Building Information Modelling — Looking at how your company develops, manages and controls design information.
- Anti-Bribery and Corruption — Implementation of procedures to prevent persons within or associated with your organisation from receiving bribes or bribing others.
- Modern Slavery — Assessment and management of modern slavery risk factors.
The Common Assessment Standard was designed for the construction industry and devised by contractors and project management clients to cover all the necessary bases of regulatory compliance and risk assessment.
It is a single form of certification, purpose-built to demonstrate complete supply chain value, allowing contractors to prequalify for work.
Why Should You Care About the Common Assessment Standard?
Backed by BuildUK, obtaining the Common Assessment Standard allows contractors to prequalify for construction jobs, many of which now request Common Assessment Standard as a minimum requirement for bid consideration — such as the HS2 project.
If contractors are not Common Assessment Standard accredited, they can lose access to jobs. And, even if the Common Assessment Standard isn’t required, it may be preferred. Given its comprehensive coverage of risk assessment and compliance criteria, working with an approved contractor is a highly appealing prospect.
When given a choice between an accredited and non-accredited contractor, many project management clients will opt for those with Common Assessment Standard certification. Not being accredited can mean contractors lose their competitive edge when it comes to winning bids and tenders. If supply chain managers are not working with accredited contractors, they invite unnecessary risk into their supply process. Something nobody wants to do.
The accreditation itself also keeps contractor businesses up to date with all regulatory standards and compliance protocols. This reduces risk within the organisation and creates a healthier internal structure that promotes better working practices and business longevity. If contractors don’t have these accreditations, they may find that they fall behind on critical risk-averse processes like increased data protection or better financial management.
It’s not just about showing compliance with regulations, but actually being compliant with regulations, too.
Short answer: Achieving Common Assessment Standard accreditation means more work opportunities and better regulatory compliance, mitigating internal risk.
How the Common Assessment Standard Benefits Construction Contractors
Access to more work opportunities through prequalification for job contracts is a clear benefit for contractors using the Common Assessment Standard, as are better internal compliance protocols, but that’s not all you can get out of it.
The Common Assessment Standard was devised to resolve a set of specific problems identified within the construction accreditation process. As reported by The Construction Index, one such problem was an intense amount of repetition in the prequalification process for construction projects.
One hundred eighty thousand contractors were filling out over 2 million prequalification assessments per year. Many of these covered the same areas of risk assessment but were required as different project management clients required different prequalifications and accreditations from various awarding bodies. Contractors were wasting large amounts of time, resources, and money on repeating prequalification processes repeatedly.
The Common Assessment Standard removes this repetition from the job application process. Once you’re accredited, you prequalify for any job accepting the Common Assessment Standard. It’s a one-stop prequalification option for the construction industry, dramatically reducing the need for repetitious accreditation applications.
The ultimate goal is for those 180,000 contractors to only fill out one prequalification assessment per year by having all construction projects accept the Common Assessment Standard. With just 180,000 assessments completed, that’s a 91% reduction in the amount of prequalification assessments filled per year, saving vast amounts of time and money for contractors across the UK.
How the Common Assessment Standard Benefits Construction Project Management Teams
If you’re working client-side, sourcing subcontractors for your construction project, the Common Assessment Standard can be an impressively powerful tool. By holding all your contractors to the Common Assessment Standard criteria, only working with those who have achieved total 12-point compliance, you can guarantee a high-quality supply chain that fully supports all essential regulatory standards as well as many other risk assessment protocols that are not legally essential but immensely valuable for smooth operation.
A supply chain built on the Common Assessment Standard is potentially the most risk-averse supply chain you can create. Not only are your subcontractors demonstrating risk-mitigation practices, but also that they’re prepared to go the extra mile to ensure value and showcase their competency. If you’re looking to achieve a long-lasting, stable and reliable supply chain, the Common Assessment Standard provides the security you’re looking for.
How to Obtain Common Assessment Standard Accreditation
Common Assessment Standard certification works like many other accreditation schemes. You fill out a qualification questionnaire and are required to provide supportive evidence when necessary. Accreditations can be applied for online and are approved and awarded after all requirements are met. The process is simple and has been developed specifically to save time and cut down on the repetition involved in multiple accreditation schemes across numerous providers.
There are very few suppliers offering the Common Assessment Standard to construction businesses. Risk-management specialists, CHAS, are one of them. It should be noted that the Common Assessment Standard is not a certification process owned or operated by a single provider. If you’ve achieved certification with one organisation, you have achieved it in the eyes of all those who provide it and can therefore work with them as a Common Assessment Standard approved construction business.