The HVAC industry wants more say in the Gas Safe scheme
The “Gas Safe” register has in many ways been a rip roaring success. It’s widely recognised by the public and the yellow triangle has been used consistently to create a Gas Safe branding. However, for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry, the administration of the scheme could be improved.
HSE letting a new contract
The register is the responsibility of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and it has been managed for 10 years by Capita, which does a great deal of government outsourcing work. However, the contract to run the register is currently being retendered, as it runs out on March 31st, 2019. The bidders will be shortlisted during May and the preferred supplier will be chosen by June. The contract should be awarded in September 2018 if the procurement schedule goes to plan, and that will give a little over six months to bed in the new arrangements if there is a change of supplier. The contract will run for five years.
The HVAC industry is making its voice heard in terms of what it would like to see changed and improved – more stakeholder involvement, for example. For its part, the HSE has come up with some proposals for changes to the way that the Gas Safe register is run.
New advisory panel and student registration being considered
This panel would represent the full range of the Register’s members. The idea is that it would be a modern, virtual panel with online activities such as webinars, user polls and so on. The panel would act on behalf of registered businesses, and could make formal approaches to the HSE or the Register manager.
HSE will also ask whoever wins the contract to carry out a feasibility study into whether students should be made to register. If the answer to this is yes, and HSE thinks it’s a good idea, the contract holder will be tasked with bringing in mandatory student registration. It’s not clear yet whether this would apply to full-time students, apprentices or employees attending college part-time.
The register is currently run on a risk-based model that decides the type and frequency of inspections. This is due to continue. However, there’ll also be a requirement that all businesses on the register must be seen within the five-year period of the next contract. Whether that means an actual visit or not isn’t clear yet. Certainly, stakeholders in the industry want to see more inspectors employed. Another issue is that at present, a trained heating or gas supply installer isn’t allowed to report an illegal gas supply – only the householder can. They’d like to see that changed. The lack of prosecutions for companies ignoring the rules is a concern.
Some large HVAC contracting companies want to see the register scheme being generally more accountable to the industry, with companies having more input into how the scheme is managed.
Financial stability will be key
The government is still smarting over the collapse of Carillion, which held a large number of government contracts. Capita itself has recently issued a profit warning. So the bidders for the contract can expect detailed scrutiny of their financial health and ability to complete the contract term.