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BAFE issues Schemes assessment update amid ongoing COVID-19 challenges

05 October 2020

CHRIS AUGER, the director of Schemes for BAFE, has issued a timely Schemes update for all those organisations preparing for their BAFE third party certification assessment and temporary certification changes.

Back in June, BAFE published a statement clarifying its position regarding remote assessments and how organisations should ready themselves for their certification audit. At that juncture, BAFE took the view that registered companies whose initial audit was due would be allowed an initial concession permitting the certification body to issue temporary certification for three months.

That three-month concession period has now expired and some companies will be faced with the prospect of their certification expiring. 

Throughout July and August, the nation witnessed a considerable improvement in the number of cases of Coronavirus and infection rates were reducing nationwide. However, during September with more people returning to work and socialising again within the rules, confirmed infection rates have now increased. As a result, new lockdowns have been imposed in many towns and cities.

This situation has meant that some companies have closed or otherwise restricted who enters their premises. This latest situation has meant that BAFE has had to review its position on the issue of certificates for remote audits. 

Unprecedented situation

Auger told Fire Safety Matters: “The current situation in terms of the global pandemic is unprecedented in recent times. On that basis, I’ve had to take unprecedented steps to ensure the health, safety and well-being of staff, customers and all personnel connected with the certification process. We also need to ensure that businesses are not disadvantaged when tendering for work and not threatened with permanent closure due to a drop in revenue. We need a situation wherein BAFE-registered companies can continue trading through this difficult time.”

With this in mind, BAFE has decided to permit further extensions to certification dates until 31 December 2020. “This decision has not been taken lightly,” asserted Auger, “but BAFE does feel that this move is necessary in order to allow companies to continue trading.”

He continued: “As was the case with the statement issued on 12 June, we will expect further evidence of competency records and procedures and assurances that the on-site/witness audit can be completed at the earliest possible opportunity once restrictions have been lifted and it’s safe to do so while observing the necessary social distancing.” 

Remote assessments

Certification bodies may have their own requirements and may choose not to complete remote assessments. This is going to be down to their discretion/current operating procedures. The recommendation from BAFE is for companies to contact their certification bodies in a bid to discuss the matter further. 

“During the first surveillance visit,” highlighted Auger, “there may be greater scrutiny of the competence of key personnel. I’m thinking about SP205 individual fire risk assessors and validators and particularly the employment status of named validators, SP203 named designers and SP101 factors.” SP101 has already been addressed in communications posted on BAFE’s website. 

Auger concluded: “Should the current situation change, or the Government issue further guidelines, then BAFE will review this guidance. In any case, this will be reviewed at the end of December.”

*For further information visit the BAFE website at www.bafe.org.uk