08 August 2008 | Helen Gilbert
Procurement questionnaires need to be a lot more probing about health and safety issues and not focus so much on costs, the managing director of a sign installation firm has claimed.
Steve Martin, MD of Xmo Strata describes the current tick-box approach to procurement questionnaires as sending a 'subtext' message to bidding companies that they can ignore health and safety related issues and treat them as a secondary thought after cost savings.
Martin, who is also author of Safety Quality Tricks and Lies: Dirty tricks in the British Sign Industry and 100 Questions Your Sign Company Doesn't Want You To Ask, says customer firms sometimes have health and safety policies in place.
But to comply with these bidding companies often have to simply tick a box next to a statement such as "please confirm your willingness to adhere to the company's health and safety policies" and possibly supply generic documents.
He added the rest of the tender goes into lengthy details about performance, key performance indicators, price and cost savings, with the final part being "now name your price or words to that effect".
"The weight of wording about price and service often leads suppliers to think that safety is an afterthought and isn't critical to winning the contract," he said.
"Questionnaires like this are a very loud signal to the customer, health and safety is a risk that they wish to transfer to the supplier, and I'm afraid under UK law you cannot do that, however much your procurement department may wish to."