Why should you seek out a UKAS-accredited organisation when commissioning an asbestos survey?
While there is no shortage of companies around the UK that offer asbestos surveying and consultancy services, when your business requires such a firm’s expertise, it is important not to be guided by cost factors alone.
This is particularly vital when dealing with asbestos, given the serious risks – to human health, as well as in a financial and reputational sense for your business – that this lethal substance can pose.
It is therefore crucial that when you are comparing businesses that could possibly carry out asbestos surveys for you, you ensure they have a certain minimum level of technical competence in this specialised work.
In addition, you will want to be sure that the company you choose has the resources to undertake the work to a high standard, and that its surveyors operate in accordance with appropriate codes of conduct, and have the right safeguards in place, such as suitable liability insurance.
All of these requirements point firmly to a need to seek out an asbestos surveying organisation that is accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) – and here’s why.
Why is it so crucial to use UKAS-accredited asbestos surveyors?
The short answer to this question is that using such a company will give you the ultimate confidence that you are only working with an organisation that really is competent in the specialised and sensitive field of asbestos surveying.
UKAS, after all, is the only national accreditation body recognised by the UK government for its work in assessing asbestos surveying organisations against international standards.
The accreditation process itself scrutinises asbestos surveying specialists’ technical competence and integrity, focusing on such aspects of these firms as their asbestos expertise, team members, facilities, management systems and track record.
You can therefore regard the resulting accreditation as an independent and authoritative confirmation that the asbestos surveying organisation in question is a genuinely professional and competent one.
Don’t depend on ISO 9001 alone!
You might be considering the services of an asbestos surveying firm that states its management system has UKAS-accredited certification to ISO 9001.
However, while this signifies that the organisation has arrangements in place for managing the quality of its product or service, it doesn’t specifically address the company’s technical competence.
By contrast, if an asbestos surveying specialist holds UKAS accreditation to ISO/IEC 17020, you can be confident in the firm’s level of technical competence, on the basis that this is the internationally recognised standard setting out the requirements for organisations conducting inspections.
Consider, also, the following points:
- UKAS presently accredits more than 150 asbestos inspection bodies to undertake surveys. The accreditation process is rigorous and ongoing, designed to ensure that the asbestos surveying organisation is impartial, employs technically competent staff, has suitable facilities and resources, and is performing to the necessary standards.
- In order to be accredited, asbestos surveying firms must demonstrate that its individuals carrying out surveys have the technical competence to do so. There are various ways to demonstrate this, including through the likes of internal training, routine competence monitoring, and on the basis of qualifications held – P402 being the minimum requirement.
- UKAS’ work to accredit asbestos surveying specialists also takes the given firm’s organisation and management into close account. Not only must the asbestos surveying business show, for instance, that it has appropriate liability cover in place, but it also has to demonstrate that it operates a Code of Conduct, and has implemented processes for safe working.
- Finally, another crucial thing to determine is the asbestos surveying organisation’s level of independence, impartiality and integrity. With regard to this aspect of its work, UKAS wants to ensure surveys are undertaken with the right safeguards in place to prevent other bodies, such as removal contractors, influencing the survey or any subsequent recommendations. It is also imperative that the asbestos surveying firm contractually obliges its staff to abide by written codes of conduct.
But is it really that much of a risk to use a non-accredited asbestos inspection body?
In a word, yes. Businesses that use the services of non-accredited asbestos surveying specialists run a series of risks. These include that the staff may not be experienced or competent enough, the given firm’s resources might not be adequate, and the company might lack impartiality in its work.
Not choosing an accredited firm also leaves you and your business more vulnerable to receiving unclear reports and inappropriate recommendations. There might also be no formal complaints procedure at that company, in the event of anything going wrong.
In short, it really isn’t worth going with a non-accredited asbestos surveying business, when so many highly reputable UKAS-accredited ones exist, with stellar track records.
Here at Oracle Solutions, for instance, we are UKAS accredited to carry out all types of asbestos surveys, as outlined within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)’s asbestos survey guidance document. For more information about our services and to receive a free quote, please do not hesitate to contact our team today.