UKAS or non-UKAS certification?

UKAS is the UK National Accreditation Body for Certification Bodies offering ISO 9001, ISO14001, ISO 18001 and other certification. They effectively ‘audit the auditors’. We have to undergo a programme of UKAS audits, where we are audited against ISO 17021, to ensure we comply with its requirements.

There are a range of ‘non-accredited’ Certification Bodies, which are not accredited by the National Accreditation Body, although they may be accredited by ‘someone else’. It should be noted that there is only one NAB: UKAS.
The general advice on the Internet is to go through a UKAS accredited Certification body. The Chartered Quality Institute discusses this in detail:

The main thinking behind this is that many customers require UKAS accredited certification, as the non-regulated part of the industry has ‘variable approaches and quality’. The non-regulated part of the industry ranges from competent Certification Bodies who provide a good level of service and professionalism, through to ‘certificate mills’ who do not effectively audit a company.

Our advice is to go for a UKAS accredited Certification Body (Interface-NRM springs to mind!). If you do decide to go for a non-accredited Certification Body, then Buyer Beware!

UKAS ISO 9001 and ISO 14001

The most recent publication on ISO certificates was released recently, and showed growth in both ISO 9001 certificates and ISO 14001, with ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems showing the most robust growth. Our own anecdotal evidence from the UK would indicate that there is great interest in both these systems. We are currently working with an arboricultural and forestry organisation in Birmingham that wants both certificates, and a company in Shrewsbury that is also interested in both, as well as a list of clients including Telford, Wolverhampton, London and Manchester.

Forestry – a certification perspective

Below is a post Dr Gavin Jordan wrote, starting a discussion on the linked-in ‘forest management and Wood Sourcing’ group site. Although it does not directly tie-in with ISO 9001 or ISO 14001, and does has some implications for forest certification.

When I studied wood science/forest products at the University of Wales, Bangor, back in the mid-1980s, we spent a lot of time analysing trade flows and timber production, using the TRADA ‘little red books’ and other sources explaining what timber was produced where in the worlds natural forests. Most of that trade has now stopped, and the books are of historic interest today, just 30 years later, due to economics or environmental concerns.

Current sustainability tools – primarily forest certification, have proved too demanding for much of the production in natural forests in countries with weak governance, hence ‘Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) , which likewise have proved very demanding (no licensed timber has yet been produced) and from a wood production perspective have been ‘disappointing’.

Environmentally, as natural forest has become scarcer, it has become more valued as a resource in its own right (i.e. standing) for multiple benefits rather than as a timber resource.

I would argue that these two factors combined spell the death of traditional (i.e. natural or ‘old-growth’ ) tropical forestry. Going into an area of forest that has not been previously silviculturally managed and harvesting will increasingly become an impossibility. The standing forests of south east Asia, central and (limited in extent already) west Africa, and south America will increasingly become reserves, too expensive/difficult to manage under FSC/VPA, and too valuable to global society to harvested without certification.

I suspect that by 2030 logging natural tropical forest will be viewed the same way as slavery now is – a historical aberration to be regretted and apologised about.

Tropical forests will be managed as a mixture/blend of community-forests and protected areas. Tropical forest resources with higher biodiversity or special values will increasingly become national or international reserves, drawing down funding for their management from international development/climate funds.Tropical commercial production will by almost solely from plantation forests. The rural landscape will be a mosaic of farmland, woodlots and community forest, plantation and isolated reserves with connectivity being attempted.

ISO 9001 or ISO 14001?

Across the West Midlands we meet with clients who ask us whether ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 is the standard to get accredited to first. Generally, we feel that ISO 9001 makes sense as the first standard, as it helps to embed a quality ethos and a good approach to management systems, audit and review. Exceptions are where there may be a sector specific reason to go for ISO 14001, perhaps forestry, arboriculture or environmental consultancies.

Of course, both may be the best answer. This allows scores to be maximised in PQQ and tendering exercises. We recently had a forestry client in Birmingham decide on both, an obvious choice for that sector.

Shropshire Star Press Release

We got a nice press release in the Shropshire Star on Feb 19th, as the only Shropshire-based UKAS accredited certification body:

“A Telford based business has become the first in Shropshire to assess other companies for key management accreditations.

Interface NRM, based at the e-Innovation centre in Priorslee, is the only certification body in Shropshire which ios recognised by industry monitors UKAS. Now it has won the right to assess companies for ISO 9001 (Quality Management Systems) and ISO 14001 (Environmental Management Systems) certificates.

Managing Director Gavin Jordan said “UKAS accreditation will enable us to provide our clients with the very highest level of ISO certification available, coupled with an effective, efficient and supportive service. “As one of the very few UKAS accredited certification bodies in the West Midlands, Interface will also be very competitive on pricing.”