Authorising Engineers – Friend or Foe?

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There was a very interesting article in the Health Estates Journal (HEJ) from May 2019 that summarised a presentation made by Philip Lonsdale, an Authorising Engineer, on the topic of AEs – Friend or Foe?

Authorising Engineers

AEs provide a number of services including annual audits, incident investigations, training, review of plans and procedures, attendance at enforcement meetings.

AEs should be available for both quick fixes and long-term support and above all, provide an independent outlook to the estates and facilities operation. 

Benefits of Authorising Engineers

There are several benefits to engaging with an independent AE, including:

  • You get an external adviser that is an experienced and subject specialist
  • You only pay for them when you need them
  • You can choose someone who best fits your organisational circumstances
  • Productivity may be higher as typically they want to get a job finished and get paid!
  • They should be impartial as not constrained by organisation budgets or politics
  • They should not only present annual audits but also explain the findings
  • They can answer a key question – ‘How do we compare with our contemporaries?’

Not so friendly?

It was apparent from the presentation that this AE at least felt great when working as a team to creatre tangible improvements. All the stakeholders should be on the ‘same side’ and want to provide a safe service.

However, it is the duty of the AE to tell the truth to the client about their performance or service including issues such as:

  • Records not managed correctly
  • Authorising Person (AP) not suitable
  • Designated Person (DP) not communicating effectively to the board
  • Playing down of risks by DPs or others
  • Previously improved services gradually deteriorate

In some cases, the AE may be required to issue a Letter of Concern or even, in rare cases, act as a ‘whistle-blower’ and provide evidence to legal proceedings.

Depending on the circumstances, the actions of an AE can be taken in various ways by clients.

On the same side

It was evident that AEs don’t want to be anyone’s foe! many problems can be avoided when the full range of stakeholders are involved and invested. The AE is there to work with organisations to remove the issues through a mix of tools including:

  • Audits to identify gaps in the management system
  • Review of organisational training requirements and planning
  • Guidance on document management
  • Independent risk assessments

Ultimately, the AE is there to be a ‘friend’ but cannot see ‘Emperor’s clothes that aren’t there’.

If you would like to find out more about AVM’s Authorising Engineers and how they can be your friend, please contact us.

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