Certification – Why you should use UKAS accredited certification bodies
You know I often extol the virtues of an Environmental Management System (EMS), using the ISO 14001 standard. It is a great way to manage your impacts & costs, comply with the law & engage with your customers & staff on issues that are important to them.
Although you don’t need to get it certified, it is good practice to do so. Externally certification gives validity to the EMS, demonstrates you are serious about the quality of your system & helps identify where to improve.
UKAS accredited certification bodies
You would bring in auditors from a certification body to do this. ‘Cert bodies’ may cover a range of standards (ISO 14001, 9001, 27001 etc) and/or industry sectors. Certification bodies are themselves overseen by UKAS, the National Accreditation Body, which is responsible for determining the technical competence & integrity of these organisations.
Maybe surprisingly it is not mandatory to use a UKAS accredited certification body, even non-accredited bodies can assess your EMS & certify it to ISO 14001. However it is good practice &, indeed, an increasing number of customers are insisting on UKAS accredited certification.
UKAS accredited certification bodies are not allowed to offer consultancy & certification. They often signpost people to a list of trusted consultants. They are also required to carry out a contract review with their potential clients to ensure that they are able to supply the certification that is required by them.
Don’t risk it
Not choosing a UKAS accredited body for certification is allowed, but you run the risk of dealing with a company who may not be competent. More importantly, you may end up spending money on a scheme which your customers do not recognise.
I’ve seen some very poor examples of EMS that have ISO 14001 – always when I look into them further, in every case the cert body was not UKAS accredited. Indeed, some of them appear to simply provide some template documents for their client and then give them some arbitrary certificate & hey presto they have ISO 14001. That is very bad – for the client & the environmental industry in general.
I’m not saying that ALL non-UKAS-accredited bodies are rubbish – indeed I have seen some good ones, with sound processes & customer support. It’s just that all of the bad ones I’ve looked into are not accredited.
Given that most companies get certified to demonstrate their good environmental management to existing & potential clients, it’s just not worth the risk to get a poor cert body in.
A full list of UKAS-accredited certification bodies is available on the UKAS website – see here.
If you’re in any doubt, please give me a shout & I can look into it for you.
Really, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you’re getting ready for certification – see here for more info on the process & what to expect.
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