Industry Standards

I recently disagreed with the idea that meeting industry standards is merely a facade and does not truly reflect the importance of safety, environment, and quality – along with busting some other industry myths peddled as “requirements.” 

But let’s look at standards. 

In the UK, most ready-mix producers utilise British and European Standards to guarantee their product’s quality, and BS 8500 is the British Standard for specifying and producing concrete. 
It is the complementary British Standard to BS EN 206. BS 8500 is split into two parts. Part 1 covers specifications and gives guidance to the specifier. Part 2 covers the constituent materials in concrete and contains the information the concrete producer requires.

Implementing International Standards proves a company’s dedication to quality and best practices, establishing credibility for their products and services. Or does it? 

ISO Standards (International Organisation for Standardisation) that are used throughout our sector are mainly:

1. ISO 9001:2015 (Quality Management Systems)
2. ISO 14001:2015 (Environmental Management Systems)
3. ISO 45001: 2018 (Occupational health and safety management systems.)

Interestingly, the one common thread for those three ISO standards is clause 7.2 – Competence.

To demonstrate that organisations comply with these ISO requirements, a company must identify the skills needed for the ISO requirements, identify the skills available within the organisation, and evaluate the skills gap. 
As I said, interesting. 

I asked an ISO auditor what this involves when conducting an ISO audit and what that would look like in our specialist sector regarding drivers and other key personnel… and that was even more interesting. 

“To create a competency-based training program, a company must consider its operations and personnel’s educational background, training, and experience. The program can be established and maintained by identifying the training needs based on competencies, preparing the training materials, conducting the training, and evaluating its effectiveness.
Companies must demonstrate how the organisation determines the necessary competence of person(s) doing work under its control, affecting its environmental, safety and quality performance. 
Ensure that those competencies are possessed by the people doing the work under your organisation’s control, including the organisation’s personnel, contractors and outsourced personnel working either on-site or off-site.
The necessary training for a specific role and potential hazards will be determined based on required skills and risk assessments. Training alone is insufficient to demonstrate competence; this must be verified through tests and observations to determine that the competency requirements have been met.”

So how do companies in our industry meet the ISO standards? 

Surely the auditors aren’t taken in that a driver CPC course covering basic health and safety requirements demonstrates competence. 
Can it be that this card that now, unbelievably, with the strapline of “saving time, saving lives”, has proved it can do just that? 
That’s the one question that couldn’t be answered. 

Regardless of the continued and dangerous disinformation, there’s NO industry requirement for drivers to have any training apart from the prescribed training related to their licence. There’s NO mandate that all drivers must sit a site safety awareness course, regardless of what we might have been told. 

Written evidence submitted to parliament on “Workforce Skills, Training and Development”, the transport select committee was informed, “the nature of the work and the demographic of the workforce makes routine training and competency assessment a challenge”… so would that satisfy an ISO audit? I doubt it as that’s a shit excuse but one we’ve accepted nonetheless.”

Look at ISO 39001: Road Traffic Safety Management Systems. A management system designed to enable the business to interact with the road traffic system to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, death and serious injuries related to road traffic crashes, which it can influence. 
A system that not many, if any, across our sector will achieve simply because of the requirement of a competence assessment, like our very own SVCA© (Site Vehicle Competence Assessment). 
No, an SVCA© is too much of a “challenge”, not to mention a direct threat to the commercial impact competition brings, it would appear. 

The ready-mix industry needs an overhaul; it’s as simple as that. 
It can no longer be run the same as the other industry sectors; it needs to be brought in line with modern working practices and legal and moral responsibilities and recognised for what it is – a specialist industry

Does anyone want to try? 


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