HSE Licence Renewal: Your Essential Guide
HSE wrote to Licence holders late 2018 to inform them they will be piloting a new approach to Licence renewals for those with Licence expires on or after 1st April 2019.
This new electronic application process has been developed to aid standardisation of assessment and to produce a more efficient overall process. However, initially this means the assessments are more detailed and in greater depth than those previously conducted.
To help our members ACAD has pulled together all the various advice and guidance that has been issued to support this new process however don’t forget the process is still evolving so contact ACAD to get our latest advice.
Timeline for Applications & Payments
HSE will write to you 4 months before your existing Licence expiry date inviting you to renew. They will not accept earlier requests for renewal however you can make sure your evidence is readily available and in a format that can be sent electronically. This may mean a review of how you operate in some circumstances or perhaps training around IT. For larger or more complex organisations a robust IT solution is becoming increasingly important.
HSE will not look at your application until you have paid the fee. They encourage you to pay online to facilitate this as soon as possible and state you should not delay until submitting your application. It is your responsibility to make sure this payment is made, particularly important for those companies with remote accounts departments who may not appreciate the importance of paying this.
HSE now state they require up to 10 weeks to review your application and make a decision, up from the initially stated 8 weeks. Within the 10 week timescale HSE undertaken an initial administrative check to confirm your Licence application is complete. There is then a pause of typically 7 or 8 weeks before your application is picked up for review which will take approximately one week.
Due to these processes and the potential to have a gap in your Licence cover with the associated potential commercial impact, ACAD recommend you apply, pay and submit your application within the first month of the four month renewal period.
Freedom of Information Requests and Corporate Operational Information system (COIN)
Both HSE and the Office for Rail Regulation (ORR) record all of their frontline activity using a database called COIN (Corporate Operational INformation system). Every intervention is recorded on the system and the inspector is required to complete records detailing the outcome of their work, including any notices issued or prosecutions initiated.
It is possible that inspector observations are recorded on COIN that were not necessarily captured by the supervisor on site during an HSE inspection or communicated to you afterwards. These are therefore a resource that should be checked as part of pro-active management by a Licensed contractor. ACAD recommends an FOI request is submitted annually with the return included as part of a company’s formal annual review. This can then be fed into your Licence renewal application.
Irrespective of where you address your initial request to, it will be dealt with by the office for wherever your Head Office is based. To hasten the process, you should therefore find the HSE office which covers your Head Office geographically and make the request to that office. Please refer to HSE website for details:
Completing Your Application
HSE advise the questions are for guidance only, they are designed to give applicants an indication of what will be assessed by the HSE upon submission. There is no expectation that applicants will answer every individual question because of the diverse nature of businesses applying for a Licence.
So far, all the applications ACAD have seen have answered all these prompts. Regardless of this though you must answer those questions asking you to demonstrate how you have successfully addressed any issues that arose out of a previous inspection / assessment. Where HSE have raised concerns, they will want to see evidence of how those were addressed with evidence of effective controls in place and working. DO NOT IGNORE THIS AS IT IS CRITICAL.
HSE expect your application to be on the standard form and not your own version of this. You must not adjust their format. One format for answering that appears to be gaining favour though is to cut out each question, answer it and add your evidence below in a single pdf document. This means HSE do not have to spend time cross referencing between different documents, but this approach does require a good IT ability.
Where evidence is kept separate please think about how these are worded. Whilst making perfect sense to you they may be harder to identify to somebody who does not have an intricate knowledge of your systems.
In addition, consider using a consecutive number at the start of each filename so these appear in the same order in a folder structure as they are referenced within your answer (eg 01 RPE daily check…, 02 Site diary…, 03 etc…).
It is important you try and make your answers as clear and accessible as possible to aid HSE’s review of these. Do not waffle on, keep your responses to the point, only answering the actual question asked. Remember HSE have to review everything you provide, you are aiming for somewhere between too little and too much evidence.
As part of the application two self-selected plans of work and their associated completed site packs are submitted. These will also contain a significant amount of evidence that can be used for other questions, but it is important not to limit your evidence base for the sake of being overly clever here. A broader evidence base will allow you to demonstrate to HSE just how good you are…Strut your stuff!
Whilst a broader evidence base is beneficial you should not go too far and simply send everything unless your evidence base is weak (eg only undertaken 3 external audits in 3 years). If you have had 20 external audits over 3 years, HSE would like to see a cross section of 3 or 4 spanning the Licence period along with an explanation of how you manage the audit findings is appropriate.
You must provide evidence and not simply assertion. Reiterating HSE guidance does not provide any evidence how you would achieve good practice yourself. Audits, NVQ assessment, internal competence assessments on the other hand are good evidence.
Some documents such as your SOP are substantial. Do not expect HSE to wade through these looking for a particular reference as this will delay your application. Instead send the relevant section, only answering the actual question asked or, worst case, include an exact reference to the section (eg p17, 2nd paragraph).
Tracker™ from Root-5: Digital compliance data for digital Licence renewals
With HSE’s licence application process moving to a digital format, it makes sense for asbestos removal contractors to do the same for the recording of their compliance data. These changes can seem overwhelming but fortunately Root-5’s solution, Tracker™ streamlines the data collection and management process, validating data at the point of entry to improve accuracy and increase efficiency.
Our friendly team of experts provide training and continued support while customers adapt.
Data entries and uploads are automatically timestamped and are fully auditable providing a robust system that can help satisfy these new HSE expectations. The system also offers full reporting functionality allowing an organisation to show continuous improvements over time.
Tracker™ has been developed by industry for industry and we will continue to work with our customers to ensure the system evolves with improved functionality to meet the growing requirements of their business, at no additional cost. Available on both Android and Apple smart phones and tablets, with low cost set up, no minimum subscription period and flexible ‘pay as you go’ licences – we’ve made it easy for anyone to try it out.
Make the most of those winter months – for a chat or demo, contact Peter on email@example.com, or call 01224 586404 and ask for details on our end of year promotion.
Who Are “You”?
The questions often refer to “you”. “You” could mean a person or people working for an organisation or the organisation as an entity in itself. It is used deliberately in this way in a conversational style.
Individual emails containing evidence should be labelled in accordance with the convention detailed in the application form. Ideally a single email should be used for each section with all emails for all sections sent to the dedicated ALU Licence renewal email address around the same time ie don’t drip feed your application.
HSE state 25MB as the maximum size limit per email which may mean you require more than one email for a particular section. Please note however that regular feedback from applicants suggests a lower limit would be prudent, somewhere in the 10 to 12 MB size limit is the anecdotal feedback.
Please note your own email system may have a size limit for sending email to HSE too.
Some emails have ended up in spam folders, it is essential you get in touch with HSE is you have not received an acknowledgment or reply to any of your emails. Be proactive throughout this process.
How Long Does It Take To Complete?
Typically, two weeks of your time will be needed to collate all your evidence and submit a completed application to ALU. Do not be surprised if this includes around 100 pieces of evidence. IT systems to support your company and speed up this process are available including ACAD members Assure 360 and Tracker.
ALU have confirmed a Licence Holder can notify works past your existing Licence expiry date but obviously you cannot actually do that notified work without holding your new Licence.
This should help avoid the double hit of a gap in Licensing and then having to wait for the standard 14 day notification period to elapse but clearly though this is subject to your clients agreeing to a potentially later or even unknown start for their work.
If you have submitted your application later than advised it would be prudent to manage the expectations of your clients around your expiry date.
Getting ready for asbestos licence assessment – how Assure360 can help you through the process
Over the summer it’s become clear that the Health and Safety Executive’s new asbestos licensing regime is challenging, in particular for organisations that maybe haven’t kept up to date with advances in Information Technology.
Asbestos removal contractors need smart ways to provide the evidence now demanded by HSE and that’s where Assure360 comes in, with several of its features giving our users a critical advantage in the Licence application process.
Assure 360 is a simplified and streamlined system, built on a secure cloud database. All of the evidence for the complex application can be produced at the touch of a button. And because the HSE is already very familiar with Assure360, its reports and data are instantly recognisable to those managing the applications, helping smooth the way through the process.
Assure360 is the culmination of all the lessons I’ve learned in more than 25 years as a health and safety professional, specialising in asbestos. It helps reveal what your data has to tell you about your business. And when it comes to your licence application, it helps demonstrate to the HSE the professionalism and competency of what you do. For those fearing the pressure of licence renewal, it’s the perfect answer.
Nick Garland, Founder, assure360.com
How will my application
Once your application has passed the HSE administrative check for completeness it goes into a folder structure ready for the review then waits in line for the next available inspector to pick this up.
Their review is very detailed and much more critical than a typical face to face assessment. HSE are expecting applicants to clearly demonstrate their suitability to hold a Licence.
To help clarify points HSE may include a planned telephone conversation with the applicant to explain particular elements in further detail. It is possible an inspector may wish to visit the applicant too during this stage, but this is quite rare. Once they are satisfied their report is sent to the ALU with a score given against each assessment topic utilising the following scale:
1. Not Demonstrated: No positive evidence
2. Minimal Demonstration: Limited positive evidence
3. Moderate Demonstration: Moderate positive evidence
4. Acceptable Demonstration: Adequate positive evidence
5. Good Demonstration: Substantial positive evidence
6. Strong Demonstration: Substantial, positive evidence and includes some evidence of exceeding expectations
7. Outstanding Demonstration: Evidence provided wholly exceeds expectation at this level
You should aim for at least a 4 across all topics if you want to be granted a Licence.
Variable Licence terms are no more. At renewal a company will either be granted a Licence, or they will not, and where they are granted one it will be the full (or what will become known as the standard) 3 year duration.
Those applying for their first Licence will still be subject to a face to face assessment and be granted a Licence term of 1 year. There are no current plans to adjust this process.
What’s The 12 Month Review?
Where HSE have a concern over a company but one not enough to refuse to issue a Licence they have introduced a new formal review with the Licence holders typically 12 months after Licence issue to ensure any changes or improvements have been fully implemented.
It is an important point to note that the formal review will not be put as a condition on a Licence so will remain private between the HSE and the Licence holder. Should a company fail to make the improvements specified HSE could start the Licence revocation process or issue a formal notice which will clearly be very public.
General feedback so far has been centred on external auditing and RA/PoW training. To support our members ACAD are expanding our auditing resources and have produced a one day training course covering the Risk Assessment and Plan of Work process.
Don’t forget the basics
The most important point to make is to be proactive and engage with HSE (and ACAD if required) early and throughout the application process. Do not sit back and assume things are happening as it is only your own Licence clock that is ticking down.
Be clear with your submission and be concise to aid HSE review but do not sell yourself short or limit your evidence base. This is your opportunity to demonstrate to HSE that you rightly deserve the title of being an exemplar of Health & Safety standards.
You must ensure anything new from HSE or others has been implemented too. For anything new in the Asbestos world check out the technical reference library on the ACAD website.
Have you provided the correct phone number & email address? HSE will use this to contact you, get somebody else to double check these are correct.
Similarly, have you actually answered the questions asked? It is easy to think you have answered a question but not actually done so. Getting somebody else, perhaps someone without a full understanding of Licenced Asbestos, to read the question and your answer will be a prudent check.
Just like a PQQ it is always better to check your spellings. Attention to detail can only help create the right impression of a successful company that does things right.
Need More Help?
ACAD offers the Pre Licence Renewal Assessment (PLRA) which should be undertaken six to twelve months before the expiry of your current Licence. This service helps to identify any issues facing the company and offers suggestions for improvement whilst a Licence holder still has time to implement our advice.
The Electronic Licence Application Review (ELAR) is a desktop review of your completed Licence renewal application offering suggestions for improvements to your answers and evidence base prior to submission to HSE.
More information is available on our website:
ACAD Head Office:
TICA House, 34 Allington Way,
Darlington, DL1 4QB