Who is UKAS?
United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) supports the delivery of quality assessment and conformity processes to businesses. This article describes UKAS and ISO regulations and how they apply to businesses.
UKAS ensures that the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) develops, writes, updates and review standards for many industries are met at the highest level. Also, with an assurance of competency, integrity and impartiality.
UKAS is independent of the UK government but is also the sole national accreditation body for the United Kingdom. It is seen to be the largest accreditation service in Europe.
Although most countries have their own specific accreditation bodies which are similar to UKAS, UKAS itself is recognised by the UK, the EU and worldwide. Therefore, generally, no additional testing is required if a business gets accredited through UKAS.
In turn, this helps to reduce barriers regarding work standards. Companies that achieve UKAS accreditation open up opportunities and access to new markets within the EU and have a competitive advantage in business.
What are ISO standards?
An ISO standard can be about any activity, such as making a product, delivering a service or supplying a type of material to name a few examples.
Standards are created through the culmination and amalgamation of knowledge that is given by people considered to be experts in their field/subject matter.
These experts also know and understand the needs of organisations or businesses they represent. For example, manufacturers, consumers or regulators. Some well-known standards laid down by ISO are:
- Quality Management Standards.
- Environmental Management Standards.
- Health and Safety Standards .
Who ‘Checks the Checkers’ for UKAS and ISO?
ISO writes the rules on what the standards should be and the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the ‘gold standard’ in ISO certification.
UKAS make sure ISO standards are being implemented sufficiently to the highest possible level. This is done on an annual basis and provides an assurance of impartiality and integrity in those certification bodies.
Accreditation bodies like UKAS are used internationally to assess the competence of organisations that provide services such as
- Inspection and Calibration.
The functions of UKAS are:
- To assess conformity assessment bodies for competence against internationally recognised standards aiding in reducing barriers.
- Accrediting (recognising competence of organisations to provide conformity assessment tasks).
- Issuing accreditation certificates and schedules showing the limits of the accreditation for a particular conformity assessment body.
- Permits the use of the UKAS mark on accredited certification provided that it is accompanied by the UKAS Accreditation Number of the accredited body.
What if we are not UKAS and ISO accredited?
Many businesses, especially government-related or larger established organisations insist on UKAS accreditation as part of work contracts.
People in the past have lost out on work due to their lack of UKAS accreditation.
A company/business may have spent money on gaining accreditation. However, because UKAS is the sole national accreditation body, any non-UKAS accreditation is considered worthless.
Companies not getting UKAS accredited have therefore lost money through gaining incorrect certification, lost contracts through their lack of UKAS accreditation and wasted resources from attaining a lower quality certification.