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Last edited 09 Feb 2021
Self-certification is the ability to verify (without recourse to third parties) that a process, service undertaken or product manufactured by an entity has been certified by the entity as complying with certain standards.
In construction, self-certification relies on the principle of 'trust and confirm' for both a client and supplier. It relies on the client putting in place a management system that includes an assurance overview that provides an insight into the correct completion of the works. It also relies on the supplier implementing a system for the provision of evidence at points throughout the works as part of their management arrangements. This could include a job-centric form of checklist, such as an inspection and test plan, that will be used to record the progress of the works. Once the works are complete, a certificate is signed by both parties to agree that the works have been completed to the desired standard.
Self-certification relies on a high level of trust between the client and supplier. The client is passing the responsibility for the standard of the works to the supplier, and not re-examining them in detail at every point. This reduces the amount of duplication of tests and inspections.
Where a collaborative relationship has been formally set in place, a relationship management plan can help. Information about collaborative working and the preparation of relationship management plans can be found in international specification ISO 44001: 2017 'Collaborative business relationship management systems – requirements and framework'. Typically, they follow the life of a relationship from deciding with whom to collaborate, through setting up the relationship through to providing a soft landing when the relationship comes to an end.
At a witness point, the supplier is confirming that the work since the last test or inspection has been successfully completed. The client may accept this with or without attending or examining records, although only the supplier will have signed the item off.
At a hold point, the client will attend the test or inspection and will confirm that the records created at the witness points following the last hold point are valid and that the works conform to the appropriate standard(s). Both parties normally sign the hold point off to permit work to continue into the next stage.
 Other types of self-certification
The Building Act also allows individuals and organisations that are considered sufficiently competent, to join a competent persons scheme, and then to self-certify that their work has been carried out in compliance with the building regulations and to issue a certificate to the client. Their ability to self-certify is limited to those areas of the works in which they are considered sufficiently competent.
Self-certification can be a very loose process and, in many cases, not follow a prescribed format. For example, it may form part of opening an account where a reporting financial institution can determine an account holder’s residence(s) for tax purposes, and whether they are a citizen, based on the information obtained by the institution in connection with the opening of the account.
Because doctors no longer issue ‘sick notes’ to justify short work absences, many firms operate their own self-certification scheme. This involves the employee completing a form in the presence of managers and countersigned by them if they are satisfied with the employee’s declaration. During the process, employees are questioned about the illness or injury. Employers may also make the employee undergo an independent medical examination.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Approved inspector.
- Assurance and self-certification.
- Competent person schemes.
- Design: a quality management perspective.
- Design freeze: a quality perspective.
- How to check certification.
- How to write an inspection and test plan.
- Change control: a quality perspective.
- Mobilisation to site: a quality perspective.
- Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA).
- Why should quality be important to the construction industry?
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