All About VCA

VCA stands for (in Dutch) Safety, Health and Environment Checklist for Contractors, but it is much more than that. VCA is a versatile and complete programme whereby service-supplying companies may be tested in a structured and objective manner, and certified for their VGM administration system. VGM (Dutch) stands for Safety (Veiligheid), Health (Gezondheid), Environment (Milieu).

VCA and Cetification

VCA stands for VGM Checklist Contractors (VGM = Safety, Health and Environment). The checklist is an extensive questionnaire that is used as an investigation and screening system for contractors who Carry out work for others. In fact, VCA is more than a checklist. It is a versatile and complete programme whereby service-supplying companies may be tested in a structured and objective manner, and certified for their VGM administration system.

Purose and Necessity

Summing up the subjects in the so-called “checklist questions” reveals that VCA is intended to investigate your company on critical points for safety, health and environmentally-friendly working practices. If your company meets the required standards, a VCA certificate may be obtained.
The VCA-certificate is a useful means of showing at once that your company meets the standard requirements on a large number of points regarding safety, health and environment. This ensures that the customer and contactor do not have to perform all sorts of steps to ensure that safety, health and environment are protected. That has already been taken care of beforehand. From the usefulness of the certificate, the necessity of the possessing the certificate is born. Because of the convenience, customers simply require the possession of the VCA certificate as a condition for those who wish to carry out work for them.

Objective and Structured

Safety, health and environment are, for the (petro-)chemical industry and many others very important points of attention. As a result of restructuring in the industry work is increasingly assigned to contractors. Because of this, the influence of these contractors on safety, health and environment has greatly increased. Selection of good contractors is thus crucial for maintaining or improving the level of safety, health and environment. VCA delivers an important contribution, since it ensures that contractors who have their VGM-administration system well organized can be certified. The certification itself is done on the basis of a checklist, by a certification organisation (CI).
A customer who assigns risk-laden work to a contractor with a VCA certificate may assume that the work will be carried out in such a way as to ensure that safety, health and environment will not be put in danger. An independent and objective investigation, by a recognised certification organisation, has already demonstrated this. The VGM-administration system complies with the minimum requirements and is applied in a structured manner, with constant attention to VGM and with good results (including a low frequency of accidents).
An important aspect of VCA is that there is an annual check that the certificate holder (contractor) still complies with all the VCA requirements. The contractor is, as it were, “under supervision” of the certifying organisation that issued the certificate.

Origin of the VCA-system

The current certification system is the result of a development process started in 1989 via the National Workgroup for Contractor Safety (Landelijke Werkgroep Contractor Veiligheid). In this workgroup, with representatives from primarily the petro-chemical industry, the idea was developed to set up a uniform and objective system that would enable the possibility of checking contractors on their safety policies and performance. After involvement by representatives from the contractors this led to a checklist that, after a trial period in the Europoort-Botlek area under the auspices of the Stichting Europoort Botlek Belangen (now Deltalinqs), is accepted throughout the industry as a uniform system and industry standard.

Organisation of the VCA-system

In 1994, to ease a wider (national) introduction, the system was brought under the independent Stichting Samenwerken voor Veiligheid, with the Centraal College van Deskundigen VCA (CCVD-VCA) as executing organ. This college administers the system in terms of quality and supervises the correct application of the system and procedures.

Additionally, the system has been brought under the Raad voor Accreditatie. This is to guarantee objectivity, to check the certification organisation for sufficient expertise and to ensure correct execution of the procedures and provide an independent complaints procedure. The advantage is that the system (the so-called certification-schema) also complies with the requirements of the European norms which eases international application, and mutual recognition between European countries is made easier (European standards are complied with).

The collective burden of safety for employers and contractors is also included in a number of legal requirements (Working conditions law).

For which activities is VCA intended?

The VCA-certificate is intended for companies that carry out work with a raised level of risk (from the viewpoint of the employer). This work often takes place in factories, installations and at workplaces and project locations.

Some examples are:

  • mechanical engineering activities, for example:
  • maintenance work
  • construction
  • electro-technical and process control, for example:
  • maintenance of process control systems
  • maintenance of electrical systems
  • construction
  • architectural work
  • other technical services, such as:
  • isolation (removing/applying)
  • scaffolding, industrial scaffolding construction
  • industrial cleaning
  • blasting/conservation/painting
  • vertical transport, horizontal transport, lifting vehicles
  • fire and manhole guards, safety guards
  • inspection work (x-rays etc.)

If the company to be certified for VCA has multiple branches (head branch, daughter branches), the certifying organisation’s audit should be carried out as though each branch requires a separate certificate. When one branch does not (any longer) meet the VCA requirements, the certificate becomes invalid for the whole company. When it is the intention that the VCA certificate should only apply to a limited number of a companies branches, only these branches should be mentioned on the VCA certificate. Naturally, each head or sub branch may also be certified separately, if the branch in question meets the VCA requirements.

If the company to be certified for VCA has multiple organisational units, the same rules apply as for a company with multiple branches (see above).

Advantages for the contracter

  • For some employers VCA is often a requirement in order to be permitted to make an offer or be given a contract.
  • VCA gives an advantage over non-certified contractors.
  • Contractors have no longer to be concerned with all sorts of safety requirements, investigations and systems thought up in the past by various employers, that could lead to a great deal of double work, also and in particular regarding training and instruction. One can now depend on just one checklist.
  • The VCA is a widely recognised, uniform checklist that has replaced a large diversity of safety checklists and methods.
  • VCA provides a clear structure: the contractor can focus on improving his VGM control system and its performance in a recognised system.
  • VCA encompasses handy, practical tips and measures.
  • Since VCA is applied under formal accreditation rules, contractors are ensured of an honest, independent, professional evaluation by a certificate organisation (CI). The CI is under the supervision of the Raad voor Accreditatie (the Netherlands), Belcert (Belgium) or TgA (Germany).
  • The VCA-certification process has similarities to the ISO 9000-systems and -audits. VCA is also supportive of the management systems and audits, such as ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001. By application of the VCA certification process, the VGM control system of the contractor can interface smoothly with the VGM system of the employer.
  • VCA is an international system, applied and recognised in multiple EU member states.
  • Since VCA has been developed and is administered by the Dutch and Belgian industry, all VCA users can be assured that it will remain a practical system. In addition, VCA is not a bureaucratic system and does not involve a great administrative burden; it clearly offers added value.

 

Advantages of VCA certification for the employer

  • VCA offers a clear structure for the contractor’s VGM systems. The employer therefore knows what may be expected from a contractor who is VCA certified.
  • Contractors must themselves take responsibility for the setup and administration of their VGM systems.
  • Through the synergy between employer and contractor the total quality and efficiency of the organisation will improve and result in fewer accidents and less damage to company and environment.
  • A VGM investigation by the employer will no longer be necessary or may be limited to the evaluation of the projects or work carried out.
  • More tasks and responsibilities can be delegated to certified contractors since the contractors are competent organisations, with well trained and VGM qualified employees.
  • VCA connects with the employer’s VGM control system (see also VCO: VGM Checklist Employers.)
  • The contractor speaks the same “language” if it is about safety, health or environment.
  • The VCA-certification process has similarities to the ISO 9000-systems and -audits. VCA is also supportive of the management systems and audits, such as ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001. By application of the VCA certification process, the VGM control system of the contractor can interface smoothly with the VGM system of the employer.

Advantages of VCA certification for the employee

  • The employer (contractor) demonstrates that VGM is taken seriously.
  • Employees may expect a safe and healthy working environment in a VCA certified company.
  • Since the employee is required to demonstrate that he is well trained and qualified, he may assume that persons with whom he works on risk-carrying work are also well trained and qualified.
  • A diploma or personal certificate, containing the VCA logo, is a valuable document for the holder. It is an officially recognized declaration that demonstrates that the holder is a professional, safely-working craftsman.
  • A VCA qualified employee or manager has a higher market value.
  • There is less chance of accidents and injuries on the work floor, so one returns home healthy and safe!

 

Advantages of VCA certification for all parties and the community

Fewer injuries, less time off as a result of accidents, less persons unable to work, lower chance of calamities, more attention for the environment. In short: a safe(r) and healthier work environment.