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Case study: Bureau Veritas – nuclear supply chain

Bureau Veritas is a leading Certification Body providing certification and verification services to customers worldwide, enabling them to improve their performance via certification of management systems by providing accredited certification and verification services based on more than 60 accreditations.

On 25th November 2022, UKAS granted ISO/IEC 17021 accreditation to Bureau Veritas Certification for the delivery of ISO 19443 – Quality Management Systems – Specific requirements for the application of ISO 9001:2015 by organizations in the supply chain of the nuclear energy sector supplying products and services important to nuclear safety (ITNS).

This is a new accreditation technical sector following a pilot programme implemented by UKAS to extend ISO/IEC 17021-1 accreditation to include accredited certification to ISO 19443. This important standard is designed to improve safety and quality throughout the nuclear supply chain and builds on the ISO 9001 standard, providing enhanced principles specific to the nuclear energy sector.

As the UK forges ahead with our drive to net zero, interest in alternatives to fossil fuels is highly amplified. Nuclear power is a zero-emission clean energy source, generating power through fission (the process of splitting uranium atoms to produce energy). With its ability to generate electricity without producing carbon emissions, it is natural that considerable interest is being shown in this area of the renewable energy sector.

The biggest concerns around the deployment of nuclear power relate to safety, therefore the ISO 19443 standard is an important standard for this sector as it provides clear requirements for quality management systems in relation to organisations that provide products or services important to nuclear safety.

Bureau Veritas are one of the first organisations in the UK to achieve this accreditation through the UKAS pilot accreditation programme. Flavio Gomes, Accreditation Manager at Bureau Veritas explains that this process is important for their business as accreditation provides an official confirmation and objective proof that they have the competence and qualified personnel to perform these specific conformity assessment services.

For our clients and other stakeholders (industry, business, government, consumers), accreditation is a mechanism used to ensure an objective and independent certification process and a tool in the decision-making process, e.g. for environmental protection, risk management or supplier qualification, and this is the principle driver for Bureau Veritas to always seek accreditation when available.

When talking about Bureau Veritas’s participation in the pilot accreditation programme, Flavio describes a collaborative process in which all participants learned and worked together. First it was necessary to establish if accreditation was possible to the standard in question. After this it was necessary to work out how best to demonstrate process and competence.

“This was a process of mutual learning. The ultimate goal of this process is to bring confidence to the market and to shareholders alike, about the robustness of the work being underpinned by accredited certification.”

The collaborative element of this pilot programme had an international flavour as accreditation assessment activity was conducted in the UK and France that required collaboration between UKAS and COFRAC, the Accreditation Body for France.

Various departments of Bureau Veritas hold a wide range of UKAS accreditation, including Certification Bodies, Inspection Bodies and Testing Laboratories, as well as Validation and Verification Bodies, so they are no stranger to the processes and assessments involved with accreditation. However, as they worked through the pilot accreditation process, Flavio describes this as an important exercise “not only for the Nuclear Supply Chain activities, but for the overall Quality Management certification offered by the business.”

Flavio commented on the accreditation:

Bureau Veritas has a sizeable number of clients in the Nuclear sector. Being awarded accreditation for ISO 19443 certification has enlarged our offer to customers and enhanced the level of support we are able to offer.