Contractor Pre-Qualification Schemes: PAS 91 Explained

Contractor Pre-Qualification Schemes: PAS 91 Explained

15th September 2014

PAS 91 was commissioned by the UK government and developed by the British Standards Institute (BSI) to act as a standardized pre-qualification questionnaire.  With a variety of question sets being used between different clients and contractors, making prequalification scheme accreditation simpler for both sides has been essential, especially in the construction industry where so many contractors work in jobs that require the use of work at height equipment like ladders, step units and access platforms.  

From the year 2016 onwards every public sector buyer will require PAS 91 level accreditation and this is now rapidly becoming the industry standard.  


A standardised pre-qualification questionnaire means that contractors will know what information they need to provide and have this ready.  

  • A single set of questions means that contractors are confident that they know what to expect in a pre-qualification questionnaire and will have the information ready, saving both time and stress.
  • Contractors can develop standard answers to pertinent questions, saving time on a regular basis.
  • A reduction in the amount of time and money spent on the pre-qualification questionnaire will allow contractors to tender for more contracts.
  • AS 91 compliancy gives a contractor an added advantage when working with public sector buyers.


Nowadays, all public sector buyers are required to pre-qualify construction suppliers of all kinds.  Public sector buyers are doubly accountable and a buying process that is not cost-efficient is unacceptable as it leads to massive amounts of wasted money and time for all concerned.  PAS 91 is becoming ever more popular amongst buyers in the private sector because of the benefits it brings to business:

  • It helps buyers to quickly identify the contractors who are suitably qualified using less time and fewer resources.
  • It is one of the UK government's common minimum standards for construction procurement.
  • It allows buyers to accomplish a more sustainable procurement process.
  • It enables buyers to easily identify the project specific areas of the pre-qualification process and focus on them.
  • Less time is needed to interpret the information gathered.
  • It encourages more contractors (especially SMEs) to tender for work due to the simplified tendering process.
  • It gives buyers the confidence that they are following best practice.
  • It provides buyers with more choice and a greater availability of contractors and the contractors are more likely to be willing to bid for work with a more assured process.


Basically, the BSI is the business standards company that aims to supply businesses in the UK with all the solutions they need to ensure that standards of best practice become “habits of excellence”.  The organization was established in 1901 and is a founding member of the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) which helps to facilitate business around the world.  

For those who deal in construction, a standardised pre-qualification questionnaire can only be positive.  It also helps to raise awareness of health and safety issues in a sector where workers are at risk of injury on a day to day basis and should lead to even lower injury statistics.  This is welcome news for those who work at height, particularly those who use equipment such as access ladders, step platforms and access equipment of all kinds.