FSC accreditation process
Accreditation under the Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner (OFSC) Australian Government Building and Construction Work Health and Safety Accreditation Scheme (the Scheme) consists of a two-step process; the initial application and an on-site audit process, both at no cost to the applicant organisation.
Initial application for accreditation
The first step of the process is to fill out and submit the online application consisting of information pertaining to your organisation, details of projects where your organisation is the head contractor, and a system map indicating how your systems fulfill each audit criterion’s requirements.
Once you have completed and submitted your online application and providing an appropriate site is available for audit, your organisation will advance to the audit stage. As far as is practicable, priority, will be given to organisations who currently have a tender application for a project lodged with the Scheme.
After your application has been reviewed, your Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OH&SMS) are assessed during your on-site audit. On-site audits are conducted by a Federal Safety Officer (FSO) and consist of a comprehensive review of your OH&SMS against the accreditation requirements, typically stretching over the course of a couple of days.
The OFSC records the site details supplied in your application and reaches out to your organisation to work out an audit date suitable for everyone. Please note that project sites listed on your application must be sites where your organisation’s OH&SMS is being implemented.
The OFSC will dispatch an FSO who will be in charge of conducting your audit and an audit notification letter will be mailed to your organisation. It includes information on the criteria that will be reviewed during the audit. The information included in the letter should be reviewed carefully during the audit preparation. It is advised to include all relevant project employees in this process to ensure all employees present at the site being audited are up to speed and on the same page.
Applicants must bear in mind that their nominated project site should remain active throughout the entire audit period. Should this change, make sure to contact the OFSC right away, to discuss alternative options.
During the audit, all your systems documentation should be on hand and available for the FSO to ensure easy access and a smooth audit.
If you are using the services of a consultant, please be advised that the FSO conducting the audit still expects relevant site employees to have a firm grasp of your systems. Prior to the audit, the FSO will reach out to you to discuss logistics, such as time and place of the meeting. Upper management along with subcontractors should be present during the audit for questioning.
On the scheduled audit day, the FSO will arrange to have a meeting with appointed representatives to go over the format of the audit which will consist of an on-site inspection and a complete review of your systems at the site, or sometimes at your company main office. The auditor will also have discussions with upper management, appointed representatives and site-staff.
Any and all documentation examined during the auditing process is treated as Commercial in Confidence. The OFSC will never share any information about your organisation obtained during the audit.
When the audit comes to an end, the auditor will hold a closing meeting during which audit findings will be reviewed from a high level to give you a chance to understand the main issues identified. It is not customary for the FSO to reveal the nonconformances level (major or minor) specifically during this meeting, however, your appointed representative will be informed of all identified issues throughout the audit.
What to expect after the audit?
After the audit, the FSO submits their report to the OFSC who checks it for quality assurance before forwarding it to the applicant organisation accompanied by a letter outlining the steps required to move forward.
Applicants should note that becoming accredited typically necessitates more than one audit. Follow up audits are scheduled in consultation with the applicant and generally consist of reviewing the nonconformances identified in the previous audit.
After the audit process is done and dusted, the findings are shared with the FSC who will take into consideration all the elements from your application and the onsite audit findings when determining the outcome of your application. Approval/denial decisions are at the sole discretion of the FSC who, upon making their decision, will send out a written notification letter to the applicant, to inform them of their decision.
Organisations accredited under the Scheme will have their name added to the accreditation register on the FSC website, free of charge. Initial accreditation is granted for a period of 3 years. Accreditation holders will need to renew their accreditation after that time.