Common assessment questions asked during Health & Safety certification

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Common assessment questions to expect when you are seeking certification

Many organisations want to demonstrate their positive track record and commitment to health and safety. A simple way to do this is by gaining one of the many certifications available on the market. 

You may be looking to gain a safety scheme in procurement certificate (SSIP) such as with CHAS and Safe Contractor, or looking at a holistic approach as seen with the common assessments standard certification (CAS). For those wanting the gold standard, organisations look to ISO standards, such as 45001 for safety system management, 9001 for quality system management or 14001 for environment system management.

Regardless of what certification you have an interest in, there are common questions asked to gauge how compliant you are with both legal requirements and expected health and safety outcomes. Here are the top five questions that are generally asked during the process - so give this a read and make sure you're prepared before filling out that application form! 

Do you have a health & safety policy?

A main starting point with these certification applications is to show that you have a health and safety policy in place. They ask for this so that they can see evidence that you organise your health and safety, showing commitment/leadership. This is especially important where you employ five or more persons - as having a written policy is a legal requirement.

For an effective health and safety policy, you want to ensure that 3 types of information can be clearly identified: a statement of intent (ideally signed by top-tier management); an organisation section that clearly states roles and responsibilities regarding health and safety management; and an arrangements section which summarises how you are going to manage your responsibilities.

A safety policy does not need to be long and complex. As long as the above points are in place and the policy is relevant to your organisation, you have done the minimum of what is expected of you. To go above and beyond, look to review and re-sign that policy every 12 months, and look to communicate the policy both internally and externally so all stakeholders can see your arrangements and commitment.    

Do you have safe systems of work in place?

Health and safety management is all about identifying hazards, evaluating the risk, and putting in place enough control measures that you can keep people safe when working. This question is asked across all certifications because a safe system of work is the foundation of safety management. 

To start evidencing this for your certification, look to supply active examples of risk assessments and method statements (RAMS). These documents are the first port of call in safety as they capture the hazards and control measures for a task to keep everyone safe before starting a job. Risk assessments must be written down as a legal requirement where you employ 5 or more people, hence why certification bodies look at ensuring you are using them. 

Risk assessments and method statements can take many formats, with organisations typically using Word or Excel templates to write down their findings. However, these systems are not purely designed for safety management and can often become frustrating and clunky with their limited functionality. If you are struggling to find a suitable starting point, HandsHQ offers free templates here. To drive better RAMS practice, show that your risk assessment process follows the HSE’s recommended 5 steps and ensure you are communicating them effectively to your workforce and actively involving them in the process.

Do you have health & safety training in place?

The health and safety world has an obsession with competence in the workplace, and rightly so. If we don’t have the correct skills, knowledge and experience in place, how can we demonstrate that we can safely complete our work? This is why every certification you apply for will ask for evidence of competence.

Often submitted in the form of training certifications and industry cards (like CSCS), the certification body will want to see that you are actively putting staff through regular health and safety training, including any refresher training that may be required. Many health and safety legislation also require you to put ‘information, instruction and training’ in place, so it makes sense why certifications look to ensure you have adequate training in place. 

To increase the effectiveness of health and safety training and education at work, ensure your organisation has completed a training needs analysis. This is a simple exercise to review what roles you have in the business and what you determine are suitable levels of training for these people. As part of the certification, you may need to demonstrate that both the organisation and individuals have the correct training in place to satisfy health and safety responsibilities. Think about how you can show evidence that the organisation is capable of taking on the work and that the correct individuals have been selected for the job.

Do you have arrangements in place for managing health & safety?

This question is asked because certification bodies want the confidence that you have suitable resources and a structure in place to manage health and safety effectively. Without these arrangements, organisations open themselves to unnecessary risk as there is a loss of operational control, which increases the chance for incidents and safety malpractice to occur.

Examples of evidence you would submit to demonstrate arrangements could include (but are not limited to): details of your competent health and safety person; a summary of any safety management system in place across your organisation; health and safety improvement plans; and details of any other systems or resources in place to help manage your compliance to legislation. You may wish to explain your arrangements using free text boxes in the certification application if you find this easier or provide a range of attachments to summarise what you have in place.  

If you need to provide more details or want to look at opportunities to improve your arrangements further, think about what activities you have already completed to monitor health and safety. Many organisations will have an inspection regime or internal audit programme in place to check that arrangements are implemented and working effectively. You may also subscribe to services or products that help keep your health and safety requirements in order such as legal update services, external consultants or safety software. Look to include as much of an overview as you can to showcase the robust arrangements you have set up.

Do you have appropriate measures in place for communication and consultation?

All safety measures fall down if they are not effectively communicated or consulted on. If people don’t understand what they need to follow, or don’t agree with the measures in place because they simply won’t work in practice, this opens up unnecessary risk to your organisation. This is why certification bodies will want to see that you involve workers in safety decisions and that everyone knows what’s in place to keep them safe.

There will be numerous ways that you communicate and consult with your workforce so find the easiest evidence to submit for your application. Think about the most effective channels you use to share safety messaging such as inductions, toolbox talks, safety alerts or daily briefings. It is also positive here to submit any evidence of regular meetings you have about safety, whether these are dedicated safety forums attended by safety representatives or routine project update meetings that have safety as an item on the agenda

To provide further information for this section, look to supply details of your safety reps or representatives of employee safety if you appoint them. You can also share details on systems and products you use that help encourage communication across the organisation such as internal forums, instant messenger and remote working software or other innovative ways of getting information out such as HandsHQ’s AI toolbox talk generator


These questions are a starting guide to the type of information that you will need to gather if you are considering a certification for your business. Depending on the role your organisation has on a certain project (such as being appointed as a Principal Designer or Principal Contractor) there will be additional questions that you may wish to seek further advice on.

If you would like to discuss your own health and safety questions or you need some advice about the best certifications for your organisation, come speak to one of our team.