safety audit during covid

11 September 2020 posted by Recovery Partners

ISO Accreditation success! How Recovery Partners helped leading national building company AJ Grant achieve ISO14001, ISO9001, and ISO45001 certification during COVID-19

News of successful accreditation

COVID-19 has had detrimental impacts on much of the Australian construction industry, but AJ Grant, a respected residential and commercial building company, was determined to push on with their certification effort regardless of the pandemic’s pressures. Last week, they accomplished their goal. Gaye Cameron, Senior Safety Consultant at Recovery Partners, got the notification on Wednesday that AJ Grant has achieved the trifecta: triple certification for their Integrated Management System (IMS), including ISO14001 Environmental Management, ISO45001 Safety Management Systems and ISO9001 Quality Management. ‘We were thrilled, and so were the guys at AJ Grant,’ says Gaye. ‘It was a huge effort from everyone concerned and the pandemic didn’t make it any easier, but we all put the hours in, and it’s certainly paid off!’

Who are AJ Grant?

AJ Grant work closely with businesses in the insurance sector, completing more than 20 000 repair jobs in homes and other buildings across Australia each year. They’re a reputable outfit with a strong track record, but the ISO Accreditation was the formalised stamp of approval they needed, says CEO Brad Honeyman. ‘The ISO Accreditation achieves several things,’ says Brad. ‘It demonstrates the level of commitment from management and the whole business to keeping everyone safe. It allows us to lead by example, ensuring that our teams are safety conscious and actively prioritising safety, and it gives us a distinct competitive advantage when tendering for major contracts against other companies that are not certified.’ Gaye Cameron agrees, saying ‘this sort of certification is like a shorthand. It lets businesses know what you’re capable of and that you know your stuff. Because the certification process is so rigorous, it’s significant when companies have achieved it.’

Certification preparation

To achieve the certification, Gaye guided the AJ grant team through an extensive IMS development process over several months. ‘You can’t buy a product off the shelf for an IMS,’ says Gaye. ‘It has to be customised and it has to be excellent.’ Fortunately, Gaye was the right person for the job, says Brad. ‘Gaye should have been an Army Sergeant! She really knows how to drive things forward. She said she would handle everything, and she did. Because of how she managed it all, the process has been relatively painless and stress-free for me.’ While the IMS is being developed, it’s also being implemented, explains Gaye. ‘Once the safety policies and processes are developed, the IMS needs to be trialled and introduced to key stakeholders. They give feedback and we continuously fine-tune it. At the same time, we gather evidence that the audit team requires.’

Sustainable Accreditation

When everyone was satisfied with the IMS, it was time to contact the accrediting body, Sustainable Accreditation. ‘Sustainable provided a Lead Auditor and Gaye project-managed, coordinating with them and with our internal team,’ Brad explains. While the auditing process would typically involve a lot of site visits to verify that subcontractors and AJ Grant team members were adhering to the safe processes and practices of the IMS, COVID-19 made this impossible. So, Sustainable relied more on spot checks over the phone, in which they would call and interview site supervisors or ask for certain documentation to be provided within the next half-hour. ‘AJ Grant has a lot of tradespeople as subcontractors,’ Gaye says. ‘So, an integral part of the audit was checking that this labour force meets the standard it needs to. To guarantee the quality of the workmanship and end product for the client, the subcontractors have to meet the criteria for performance and safety systems.’

Benefits of accreditation

In the end, COVID-19 intensified an already rigorous process, says Gaye, but the AJ Grant team, contractors and IMS stood up to scrutiny. Accreditation was awarded and AJ Grant received impressive reports. ‘For AJ Grant, the benefits will be immense,’ says Gaye. ‘Because they work with a lot of businesses in the insurance sector, they need to be able to show that they have the best practices. That translates to a greater economy for the insurers. Their business is more streamlined and efficient now, and even if they’re not going for a tender, they will be more competitive. What’s more, they’ll be able to keep people in work at this difficult time in the industry.’ Brad agrees, saying that the AJ Grant team have already started to see ROI, just days after from the announcement. ‘It’s been a great morale booster for staff. When we notified everyone, the feedback was fantastic. It was frustrating for everyone when we missed out on jobs or tenders due to our lack of certification, because we knew we could do those projects, and do them well. We’ve got the experience. Now, there’s nothing holding us back. Our team are feeling positive and excited about the prospect of new business, and this helps them commit to our safety systems. This commitment then helps our business grow.’ The directors and leadership team are celebrating as well, Brad says. ‘We worked hard on this because we knew the benefit would be there. It’s not surprising but it’s gratifying now that we’re already seeing doors opening. It’s early days, but there’s a ripple of positivity around. There are exciting times ahead for AJ Grant and the future looks bright.’

Teamwork

Congratulations to Gaye, Brad and all the AJ Grant team for achieving the ISO Accreditation! We look forward to seeing your business go from strength to strength with these certifications under your belt, and we’ll continue to provide you with 24/7 service through our Safety Partnership Program (SPP).  

 

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Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at www.workcover.nsw.au