» Lucion Environmental’s inspection services meet internationally recognised ISO/IEC 17020 standard for inspection bodies.
11 May, 2015
Lucion Environmental is a privately owned asbestos consultancy offering trusted hazard management to the built and marine environments. Started in late 2002 by two asbestos management specialists, the company has now grown to over 150 full time employees, 112 of which are asbestos surveyors and air/bulk analysts. Operating out of 7 UK offices, Lucion Environmental’s inspection services have achieved UKAS accreditation against the internationally recognised ISO/IEC 17020 standard for inspection bodies. Additionally, its laboratory services are accredited to the laboratory standard ISO/IEC 17025 for the testing of asbestos fibres in air, bulk materials, soils, sludges and slurries.
UKAS is the National Accreditation Body for the UK. Its role is to assess evaluating organisations such as certification, inspection, testing and calibration services to international standards. UKAS assessment is an impartial and rigorous process, so why would an organisation put itself through the process? The answer is that the benefits of achieving accreditation far outweigh the costs. This applies to both an accredited organisation and its customers, particularly in generating confidence. Adam Penny is Commercial Manager at Lucion Environmental, making him ideally placed to see the impact of accreditation on its customers. He said: “Right from when the company was established 13 years ago, the main priority was setting up systems and processes which would allow Lucion Environmental to pass the audits and become accredited to both ISO/IEC 17020 and ISO/IEC 17025. Even back then, the founders acknowledged that having these accreditations was a vital part of gaining customers; by showing that their business operated to a proven standard, and that the accreditations showed a commitment and guarantee to quality and impartiality.”
The ability to prove these traits to customers through accreditation provides Lucion’s customers with the necessary assurance and confidence in its abilities, as Adam Penny explains: “As an accredited inspection body and testing laboratory, we provide less risk to our clients than those who may not operate to these standards. We are able to prove competency in a simple, understandable manner.”
As well as operating to known quality standards, achieving accreditation demonstrates that an organisation’s impartiality, commitment to continual improvement and that its training and experience is suitable for the job in hand.
Lucion Environmental offers its services to both the public and private sectors, focusing on NHS, Local Authority, construction, infrastructure, utility, marine, oil and gas markets. Whilst UKAS accreditation is not mandatory for asbestos inspection or testing in these areas, its effectiveness as an indicator of quality has made it a de facto requirement when tendering for business. Adam Penny said “Today in 2015, being UKAS accredited is becoming much more of an expectation from clients, rather than a ‘nice to have’, which means it will be very difficult to pass most supplier questionnaires and tenders without these accreditations in place. UKAS accreditation is effectively a ‘must have’ in our industry. Although not a requirement, it is extremely difficult for buying organisations to justify using a non-accredited company to undertake the type of services that we provide. I would also imagine that it would be very difficult for companies without accreditation to prove to their customers that they operate to a good standard without having to send over mountains of training records, policy and procedure documents.”
Becoming accredited has been beneficial to Lucion Environmental’s internal operations, helping it establish a culture of quality in its processes, as Adam Penny explains: “Having an external body approve your methods and operating practises allows a known standard of quality to be established and an expectation that all aspects of the business can work to. All of our business processes and practises have been designed around quality management systems and although have moved on over the years to be more IT driven, the roots are still firmly set in auditable quality management systems.”
Going through the accreditation process can also allow an organisation to take a step back from the day to day operations, and adopt a wider view of the business and potential growth opportunities. Adam Penny said: “The audits that have been undertaken by UKAS' assessors each year have been a very valuable ‘health check’ for the business as it has grown through the years. Opening up your business, your processes, systems and procedures can be a scary prospect. However there are very few opportunities to have professional, unbiased auditors take a critical look at your company. We have been able to maintain all of our accreditations without any issues over the years and continue to use these audits as a plan for the future development of the business in order to maintain quality levels through large periods of company growth.”
In addition to increasing efficiency and opportunities for potential business, achieving accreditation can have a more direct impact on a company’s finances. As accreditation provides demonstrable proof of technical competence and quality, some insurance companies offer lower premiums to accredited organisations. Adam Penny concluded: “Preferable deals on insurance are of course a benefit to the bottom line of the business.”