Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 13th 2013 Contents How do I become STOW cer-
tified? This is the number
one question that we receive
from contractors. The answer
to this question is not quite
straight forward but, in this
article, we will provide a road map of sorts
for leaders of contracting companies, which,
if taken to heart, will certainly lead to STOW
Visit our STOW Web site at
As is expected, if you are embarking on any
new venture, you should do your initial research
to find out what STOW is about and what
you are working towards.
As the Web site explains, the STOW pro-
gramme seeks to have the different energy
sector operating companies adopt the same
HSE requirements and approach, to pre-qualify
their contractors. It involves an independent
audit of a contractor s safety management
systems and certification if the company can
attain a minimum of 75 per cent in each of
the 11 elements that make up the STOW HSE
In addition, you must attain a minimum of
70 per cent when the auditor conducts the
physical inspection of your site(s).
For some reason, contractors shy away from
our Web site, but it has a wealth of information
on STOW and updates and changes to the
programme are posted regularly. All the doc-
uments mentioned in this article can be found
on the STOW Web site.
You should not skip this step.
Determine your risk level
With the background information on STOW
in hand, you need to figure out whether you
should be seeking low or high risk certification.
Certification is granted according to the level
of risk associated with the service your com-
pany provides to the energy industry.
It is extremely important to get this right.
You will only be able to bid for work within
your risk level ie if you are certified at the low
risk level you can only tender for low risk jobs.
At the high risk level, you can bid for and pro-
vide services across the board.
At the chamber, we do not give advice on
the risk level that you should be seeking, but
clear definitions are available on the Web site
along with examples of services that might
be considered high or low risk.
Ultimately, it is the operating company that
determines the level of risk that you bring to
their operations. Therefore, the easiest way
to find out is to check with your clients if you
are listed as a low- or high-risk company.
Have a gap analysis done
Once you know the level of risk you are
shooting at, you have to match your safety
management systems against what is required
for STOW at your level of risk. This involves
a thorough review of the STOW Contractor
Guidance Manual, which outlines the STOW
requirements and provides best practices to
meet each requirement. You cannot go wrong
if you make the guidance manual your STOW
The HSE systems that exist in STOW, but
are missing in your safety management systems
are your gaps.
If you need assistance in conducting the
gap analysis, you can seek guidance from our
STOW assessors who were specifically trained
on STOW or you may contract a freelance
Close the gaps
The next step will be working towards clos-
ing the gaps that you identified.
From your gap analysis, you will know which
of the 11 elements of STOW you need to con-
centrate on. Of those, you will also have a
good idea which elements you can tackle your-
self and which elements are beyond the expert-
ise of you and your employees. For such ele-
ments you should definitely seek external
Again, our assessors are available to guide
you or you may work with other HSE con-
sultants to close the gaps.
Remember to maintain evidence of imple-
mentation on the ground as you go along.
Your documented policies and procedures
mean little if what is documented is not put
into practice, and there is little or no evidence
to support that it is actually done.
The STOW auditor will want to see that
your safety management systems are func-
tional. Therefore, you should, for example,
start recording minutes of HSE meetings; keep
training records including copies of certificates;
ensure that employees sign off on receiving
and understanding communication on HSE.
These are all examples of evidence that your
safety management systems are in effect.
Whatever you do, do not go the route of
handing over your implementation efforts
wholesale to a consultant or an assessor.
Instead, take charge of the process and work
under the guidance of the expert.
The STOW certification audit will involve
you and your employees---not your consult-
ant---providing evidence to demonstrate con-
formance to the STOW requirements.
Use our free STOW sample manual
if you are starting from zero
If you are literally starting from scratch,
instead of paying a consultant to create an
HSE Manual for you, you can use the Sample
STOW Manual. We created the manual for
contractors who have next to nothing in place
and do not have the financial resources to
contract the services of a consultant or assessor.
The manual is generic in nature, but can
be tailored to the specific needs of your oper-
ations. It comes with templates that you can
work with by simply adding or deleting infor-
mation so it reflects the activities of your com-
We have uploaded a protected copy on our
Web site, but we will be happy to provide an
unprotected version upon request and free of
charge to both members and non-members.
Final word of caution
Ensure that the safety management sys-
tems that you have implemented cover all
of your activities because you cannot certify
some activities and not others. Each con-
tracting company only gets one certificate
which lists your activities and all the sites
you operate from.
If you add an activity after certification or
relocate, you are required to inform us at the
chamber so we can arrange for another audit
and have the new activity added to the cer-
Apply to the Energy Chamber
When you believe that you can achieve
more than 75 per cent in each of the 11 ele-
ments of STOW, plus 70 per cent on the phys-
ical inspection, you should apply to the Energy
Chamber for the STOW certification audit
and pay the application fees. We will assign
an assessor and have them call you to arrange
If you are unable to gauge your compliance
level, you can have an assessor conduct a pre-
assessment or mock audit so you will have
a better idea if you are ready for the certi-
Be ready for the audit
Keep in mind that the STOW auditor
expects you and your employees to have your
HSE documents and related information at
your fingertips. Therefore, ensure that your
HSE documentation, records and other evi-
dence that your safety management systems
are in practice and are available for the auditor
at the time of the audit.
Remember that if it is not available during
the audit it does not exist. Ensure that your
employees are also available for interviews.
Among other things, ensure they are aware
of the HSE policies and procedures relevant
to them and of their responsibilities under
the company s HSE plan.
Once you do your work upfront and imple-
ment the STOW requirements according to
the guidelines of the STOW Contractor Guid-
ance Manual and readying your company for
the audit as outlined, you are well on your
way to STOW certification.
JUNE 2013 • WEEK TWO www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG23
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