Furthermore, an average of 423 suppliers each period held a non-compliant status on the RISQS portal. This is a big concern to RISQS and our buyers, as suppliers could still be delivering services within railway infrastructure that carry an unacceptable level of risk, until they are stopped by becoming non-compliant.

During FY 2022-23, the top reasons for audit failures, in descending order of frequency were:


  • 8.1 Monitoring and Measuring
  • 2.2 Legal and Other Requirements
  • 7.3 (3.4 Sentinel) Drug and Alcohol


  • 1.2 Contracts of Sponsorship
  • 3.4 Drug and Alcohol

Safe Systems of Work 

  • 2.3 Document Control
  • 6.2 Measuring Safe Work Packs
  • 1.2 Ongoing Competence Arrangements

We do acknowledge the railway industry does regularly adapt or change compliance criteria. RISQS embraces its role in helping businesses to adapt to an ever-evolving industry.

Therefore, on Wednesday 11 July 2023, Phil Smith, Scheme Manager, was joined by Laura Smith and Jo Astor Duggan from Network Rail’s Sentinel Project team for a webinar titled: ‘Staying compliant in a Changing World’. 

Prior to the July 2023 RISQS webinar, there were 425 suppliers that were in a non-compliant status on the RISQS platform. Within two weeks, that number had been reduced by over 50% to leave 199 suppliers non-compliant, many of which heeded the learnings delivered by Phil Smith to become compliant later on. Suppliers also heeded the direct nudges from us to get compliant. 

Buyer procurement confidence

Supplier selection is a vital stage within public procurement. Buyers need to have confidence in the supply chain due to the significant financial, health and safety, and reputational damage caused by incidents or project delays for example.

Therefore, a robust selection process must be put in place, using objective pre-determined criteria, to ensure suppliers have the necessary compliance to be awarded contracts. 

Under the utilities contracts regulations, buyers may use a qualification system, such as RISQS, to check criteria and make assessments of a supplier’s relevant technical and professional capabilities and capacity. In future, this will adapt and change to the new ‘Dynamic Market’ that we will inform you about soon.

RISQS provide measures of compliance through two essential measures that we require. The first is the annual RISQS questionnaire which assesses a company’s ability to trade and operate successfully within the railway industry. The second is delivering on-site audits where required.

Our role is to ensure non-conformance prevents the escalation of risk into fatalities, injuries, shock, or trauma within the railway infrastructure.

If a buyer is working with a supplier who has a non-conformance, they will be notified via the RISQS ‘watch’ function. Where a non-conformance has been identified, the supplier will also become invisible to any buyer searching for suppliers under the RICCL.  

Opportunities to improve business performance

RISQS is actively working closer with Network Rail and now other buyers, to provide advance notice of which RICCL codes will be required for expressions of interest, where it is viable to do so,. This doesn’t mean that every opportunity will become available to every supplier, but it is a clear opportunity for buyers to actively engage with SMEs throughout the supply chain. 

During FY 2022-23, there were 2,622 minor non-conformances identified, which, if left unresolved, have the potential to escalate into major non-conformance, and even worse, danger to the health and safety of employees.

Therefore, it’s vital buyers have full confidence in the supply chain’s ability to deliver their projects, particularly in the current economic climate where every penny is scrutinised to ensure value for money. 

Buyers want to see how suppliers adapt their processes to risks identified within the auditing process. RISQS therefore needs suppliers to see the audits as a chance to improve and protect their business. Taking the time to understand why the auditor has written either an observation, or a minor or major non-conformance, helps suppliers.

If suppliers are compliant, RISQS will work with buyers to ensure opportunities are pushed down the chain for SMEs. 

Key recommendations for suppliers

Following on from the webinar, our key recommendations for suppliers are as follows:

  • Keep on top of portal questionnaire requirements as failure to do so will result in lost opportunities.  
  • RISQS can’t run your page so it’s your responsibility to ensure your business can be found by active buyers. 
  • Prepare for audits in plenty of time. 
  • The industry is always adapting changing criteria so stay on top of the developments and avoid recycling documents from one job to the next. 

We highly recommend watching the webinar ‘Staying compliant in a Changing World’, if you haven’t done so already. 

We have also listed the questions asked and answered as well as those asked but not answered at the ‘Staying compliant in a changing world’ webinar which you can also view here

Our next webinar – Managing fatigue and presenting Safe Work Packs

RISQS has significant non-conformance concerns within the Safe Systems of Work module, especially within:

  • 2.3 Document Control
  • 6.2 Measuring Safe Work Packs
  • 1.2 Ongoing Competence Arrangements

We were also asked to debate fatigue management in a post-HSE advice world. So, our next webinar, due to take place on Thursday 14 September 2023, 11:00-12:00, will be about Managing Fatigue and Presenting Safe Work Packs’. 

Our latest audit results indicate:

  • 36% of suppliers are not following compliance in modules within NR/L2/OHS/003.
  • 25% of suppliers do not have a complete risk assessment on fatigue calculating and mitigating risk.

Phil Smith, Scheme Manager, and guests will deliver a presentation with useful insights for suppliers and contractors, which will then be followed by a Q&A session.