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June 12, 2020

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Embracing technology is helping companies stay compliant during the COVID-19 pandemic

Adapting to operate within the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a significant challenge for the construction sector but embracing technology is helping the industry stay operational and compliant, says CHAS. 

video conferenceWith companies of all sizes now scheduling regular Zoom meetings and record numbers of workers taking part in Microsoft Teams and WhatsApp conference calls it’s clear for some the world of work may never be the same again.

The requirement for a large proportion of the workforce to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has unveiled the simplicity and affordability of readily available technology and there is a growing consensus that flexible working could become the new norm.

While the construction industry may be less suited to working from home than some other sectors, the speed and ease with which technology has been adopted should prompt every business to ask whether there are simple solutions available that could help them become more efficient.

Free outsourcing options

For the construction industry the answer is definitely yes. In the first instance on sites where workers have been furloughed and operations are being run on skeleton staff, technology can help fulfil essential compliance functions. For example any organisation that engages contractors within the construction sector can become a CHAS client and access its business services completely free. This gives them access to prequalified, accredited contractors and enables them to take advantage of options such as asking CHAS to undertake a contractor matching report on their behalf to help them to easily identify, assess and resolve non-compliance issues. Or they can use CHAS’s contractor engagement services and instruct CHAS to communicate with their contractors to help improve compliance within their supply chain.

There are also industry wide schemes that construction clients can take advantage of to improve efficiency and compliance.

A key example is the industry’s new Common Assessment Standard which was introduced in May 2019. Led by Build UK and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), the Common Assessment Standard replaces a multitude of prequalification schemes with a simplified process based on a single industry-agreed questionnaire. While it is based on existing PQ questionnaires, including PAS 91, its remit is broader, covering topics including Modern Slavery, Finances, Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility, reflecting an overall drive towards more stringent supply chain standards that reflect recent changes and priorities in the marketplace.

Data sharing solutions

The real advantage of the Common Assessment Standard is that it features a data sharing solution that gives contractors and clients access to prequalification data via a single assessment body. Once a contractor has been assessed to the new standard by their chosen body, their assessment can be accessed by anyone who is specifying it without that contractor needing to be assessed by multiple bodies. This collaborative approach is a true game changer for the industry saving contractors and clients a significant amount of time and money. It also makes third party accreditation achievable for contractors of all sizes; who can choose either a site-based or scaled down desktop level of certification based on what is most appropriate for their business.

The scheme is already winning support from the industry, with the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) confirming that contractors appointed to its new seven-year bidding framework will be expected to assess their supply chains using the Common Assessment Standard, and HS2 has confirmed that its four joint ventures will all accept the Common Assessment Standard. In line with the system’s phased introduction, companies (both contractors and supply chain) are being encouraged to move to the new system at a time that suits them, such as when one of their existing certifications is up.

Widespread adoption of predictive data analytics is also on the horizon and will soon become common place within construction opening up even more opportunities for collaboration and having a positive impact on safety, sustainability and procurement.

CHAS, Managing Director, Ian McKinnon comments: “While it has been a challenging period for the construction industry we hope that these changes provide reassurance that there is much to be hopeful about. Embracing technology now while adopting a collaborative outlook won’t just help businesses survive this current period but it will also ensure they thrive in the future.”

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