The impact of Brexit on ISO certification

Well unless you have been hiding under a stone or been abducted by aliens you will no doubt now know that today the UK voted to leave the EU and the resulting initial meltdown is underway.

Having seen numerous posts with worried questions regarding a myriad of topics such as passports, driving licences, European spouses etc. and also heard during the Brexit campaign that if we vote to leave virtually all existing legislation will be thrown in the bin, leaving us defenceless and at the mercy of unscrupulous business owners, hell bent on exploiting all staff and operating in contravention to every shred of legislation that existed under the EU. I thought I’d take a look at and give my view on the impact of Brexit on Certification.

I’m reasonably confident that this shedding of everything that went before won’t apply to ISO Standards, due to their recognition worldwide and not just within the EU.

Amongst the benefits they can offer, international Standards such as  ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 27001, ISO 50001, ISO 22301, ISO 3834 etc. all go to aid companies to cut costs, through improved systems and processes, increase customer satisfaction, through improved safety, quality and processes, access new markets, through ensuring the compatibility of products and services and reduce their impact on the environment.

OHSAS 18001 is a slight anomaly, as a British Standard (technically it’s BS OHSAS 18001:2007) that has been loosely adopted globally as the international benchmark Standard for Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems, at least until the (now delayed) ISO 45001 Standard is released and begins to displace OHSAS 18001 sometime next year.

Then of course there are the EU Directives, such as the Construction Products Directive, which have resulted in a range of mandatory certification requirements, such as BS EN 1090-1:2009+A1:2011, Execution of steel structures and aluminium structures. Requirements for conformity assessment of structural components. These requirements are mandatory for companies wishing to buy or sell within the EU, whether that be to/from the UK, USA, China or anywhere else. Oh and of course, who can forget the lovely ESOS scheme, which came about out of Article 8 of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive and will be back full circle again in 2019.

Moving forward into what may initially be a somewhat uncertain future, I envisage certification becoming more prevalent and an increasing requirement for UK companies wishing to trade both within the UK and abroad.

Within the UK, they will need to show their credentials, both against other UK companies and those from outside of the UK. Abroad, because they will need every additional “tick in the box” they can find to make them attractive to deal with.

I can also see increasing attention being paid to accredited versus unaccredited certification, with an increasing preference being placed on accredited certification, providing the reassurance of consistency by knowing someone is assessing the assessors themselves to ensure consistency in quality, approach, competence and impartiality, in both service delivery and assessors.

We may have decided to leave the EU but we haven’t exited Europe or the rest of the world, so international Standards are a consistent we can still rely on.

Worth noting that according to ISO: “Numerous studies have shown that standards boost business and economies”. In the UK, for example*:

  • £8.2 billion is the amount that standards contribute to the UK economy
  • 37.4% of UK productivity growth can be attributed to standards
  • 28.4% of annual UK GDP growth can be attributed to standards, equivalent to £8.2 billion
  • £6.1 billion of additional UK exports per year can be attributed to standards

* BSI - New research – June 2015: The Economic Contribution of Standards to the UK Economy

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