What Is UKAS Accreditation And Why Is It Important?15 August 2023
The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) report, Management of Asbestos in School Buildings 2022/23, published at the start of July 2023, revealed 15.7% of schools surveyed had an asbestos survey carried out by a non-accredited surveyor.
While there is no legal requirement for asbestos surveyors to be accredited, HSE strongly recommends using surveyors with accreditation as provided by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).
Lucion Group’s QHSE Director Chris Parr explains the benefits of using UKAS Accredited providers when dealing with asbestos risks in public buildings.
Established in 1981 under the name National Testing Laboratory Accreditation Scheme (NATLAS), now known as the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) a government-appointed agency authorised to assess the competency and abilities of organisations that provide certificates in the testing, inspection, and certification (TIC) industry. This includes the asbestos industry.
UKAS awards successful organisations with Accreditations and/or certification certificates.
What’s the difference between accreditation and certification?
UKAS Accreditation and UKAS Certification are two distinct terms that refer to different processes and types of assessments conducted by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).
- UKAS Accreditation:
- UKAS Accreditation is a formal recognition that an organisation, such as a testing or calibration laboratory, inspection body, or certification body, has been independently assessed and found to have the technical competence, impartiality, and performance capabilities to carry out specific tasks according to internationally recognised standards. The assessment is based on rigorous evaluations, regular audits, and inspections to ensure ongoing compliance with relevant standards. UKAS Accreditation is widely recognised as a mark of quality and competence within a specific field.
- For example, in the context of asbestos testing, a laboratory may seek UKAS Accreditation for conducting air sampling and fibre counting to demonstrate its ability to provide accurate and reliable results in accordance with ISO 17025 standards.
- UKAS Certification:
- UKAS Certification, on the other hand, is a process where a third party organisation is accredited by UKAS to confirm via audit an organisation's systems or products such as ISO 9001 (Quality Management), ISO 14001 (Environmental Management), or ISO 45001 (Occupational Health and Safety Management). The certification process involves an independent assessment to determine if the organisation's management system meets the requirements of the chosen standard.
- For instance, an environmental consultancy firm may seek UKAS Certification for ISO 14001 to demonstrate that it has a robust environmental management system in place, ensuring compliance with environmental regulations and a commitment to sustainability.
In summary, UKAS Accreditation is issued directly by UKAS and relates to the technical competence and performance of an organisation to carry out specific tasks , whereas UKAS Certification is issued by a third party certification body accredited by UKAS and relates to the compliance of an organisation's management system with a particular standard. Both are valuable in their respective areas and provide assurance to clients and stakeholders about an organisation's capabilities and commitment to quality and compliance.
What does UKAS accreditation mean for Clients?
Lucion proudly holds accreditation from the UKAS. Organisations bearing UKAS accreditation have undergone rigorous audits and reviews that assess many aspects of the business including; general management, policies and procedures, and testing of individual team members' competency. This assessment is conducted annually to ensure the service you, the customer, are getting reliable and trusted services from your provider.
At Lucion, our testing and calibration laboratories undergo stringent evaluations against internationally recognised standards, demonstrating our unparalleled competence, impartiality, and exceptional performance.
The significance of choosing a UKAS-accredited company resonates deeply with our clients, influencing their decision-making process. There are multiple reasons why clients opt for a UKAS-accredited organisation over a non-accredited one.
Firstly, as purchasers, they demand accuracy and reliability in the first instance, as the cost of rectifying errors can be exorbitant. We perceive quality assurance schemes like UKAS accreditation as a means of ensuring that the organisations we engage with possess the necessary expertise and proficiency in their respective fields.
Secondly, institutions like county councils prioritise safeguarding their reputation and the well-being of individuals, especially children, within their premises. Consequently, they subject every organisation they collaborate with to meticulous scrutiny. By being UKAS accredited, we provide compelling evidence that our operations have been scrutinised and validated against the required standards by an independent external entity.
But it's not just a badge of honour – UKAS accreditation is a legal requirement for companies like us, as specified in Regulations 20 and 21 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. Our UKAS laboratory number 7691 and compliance with ISO 17025 standards give us the authority to perform air sampling and fibre counting with absolute precision.
Unveiling Europe's Largest Asbestos Testing Laboratory
Our UKAS ISO 17025 accredited North East England laboratory, opened in 2008. Our lab operates seven days a week, capable of processing an astonishing 6,000 bulk samples weekly. A remarkable feat that aligns with UKAS regulations, ensuring a maximum of 60/70 sample points per day, per analyst.
As Europe's largest asbestos testing laboratory, our suite of services extends beyond the ordinary, enhanced by full UKAS-accredited asbestos testing and analysis capabilities:
- Independent asbestos sampling, testing, and analysis:
- With no affiliations to asbestos removal contractors, our reports and findings stand as unbiased pillars of trust.
- Asbestos bulk sampling and analysis:
- Our BOHS-certified surveyor and analyst team meticulously follow HSG 248 guidelines, ensuring precise and accurate procedures.
- Qualitative and quantitative identification of asbestos in soils:
- We delve into the depths of soil to uncover the presence of asbestos, applying our expertise to provide comprehensive insights.
- Asbestos air testing and monitoring:
- Employing Phase Contrast Optical Microscopy (PCOM) analysis, we leave no room for doubt in our results.
- Asbestos fibre determination and fibre counting:
- By utilising Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS), our accuracy surpasses that of many UK asbestos laboratories.
- Four-stage clearance certification of reoccupation:
- We leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of securing safe environments.
Quality assurance resides at the heart of our operations. Our 50+ BOHS P401 qualified lab analysts participate in rigorous quality assurance and proficiency testing schemes, ensuring continuous improvement in our processes.
With an unwavering dedication to impartiality, we present you with dependable, unbiased test results, a hallmark of our commitment to excellence.
Choose Lucion, where UKAS-accredited services redefine the standards of precision and reliability in the industry.
T: 0345 5040 303
About The Author
Chris has over 12 years of experience specifically monitoring, managing and leading on quality assurance for the Lucion Group, having joined us via Lucion’s acquisition of AOH Ltd in 2011. Chris was integral to the successful creation of a strong QHSE culture at Lucion Services, where he maintained an integrated Quality Management System (PAS 99 certified by BSI) to include ISO17020, ISO17025 (requirements for asbestos testing, and inspection accreditation by UKAS), ISO9001, ISO14001 and ISO45001 (certified by BSI).
Moving to his role of Quality & Assurance Director for the Lucion Group, Chris will utilise his experience gained and integrate our strong culture for integrated quality management across our Lucion Group portfolio of companies, working closely with the Lucion Group Technical Director and our individual business leaders.
Group Quality and Assurance Director
T: +44(0)345 5040 303
Linkedin: Chris Parr
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