BSI shakes up GCC industry standards

The British Standards Institution (BSI) is the oldest standards assessment body. Formed over one hundred years ago, it has pioneered standards across the world and provided business services to a variety of organisations. Zoe Naylor speaks to John Glackin, BSI’s business client manager in Dubai, about the independent assessments that BSI carries out in the Gulf.

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By  Zoe Naylor Published  November 5, 2005

BSI shakes up GCC industry standards|~|94vis200.gif|~|Standard stuff: John Glackin says that companies are adopting ‘best practices’ as projects become larger and joint ventures become more popular.|~|What type of service does BSI offer? We carry out audits against the following standards: quality management, health and safety, environmental, information and security management; and food hygiene standards, covered by Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Criteria (HACCP). We also deliver tailored training services, for example, training internal auditors and lead auditors, as well as adapting training courses to meet the client’s needs. I work on projects across the Gulf, from Lebanon to Iran, to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It’s a very dynamic area to be working in and BSI has made a strong impact. We have had a presence here in Dubai since March 2003 and our personnel reflect the diversity of the industry here. What sort of companies does BSI assess? We assess all kinds, but the construction industry is a major factor here for these sorts of services. However, what we do is very diversified and covers everything from engineering to construction. We also audit hotels and service sector companies, such as hospitals and financial centres in the UAE which are registered to ISO. I’ve worked with the American Embassy in Cairo, as well as with major companies including DG Jones, Hyder and Al Futtaim Carillion. As part of construction-related assessments, we look at everything from project management, construction, planning and design. Technically, there’s nothing that we can’t address, especially here in the Gulf. Why did BSI decide to set up in Dubai? As a location, Dubai has a very dynamic function — it’s one of the central hubs of the Middle East. Before we set up here, BSI visited from the UK, but the industry definitely needed BSI’s presence on a permanent basis, so we decided to bring the BSI profile, identity, integrity and professional services directly to the region. How has the market benefited since BSI arrived here; what contribution has BSI made? BSI has brought an international and multi-skilled range of business support to the region. We’ve done a lot in the construction industry, engineering and the service industry, such as banking and financial services, and we’re also aware that integrated services as far as environmental health and safety and business management are becoming more of an issue for many companies in the area. We’ve found that companies are now taking on a higher profile in terms of international joint ventures. As the projects become higher profile, companies are bringing in more international ‘best practices’ into their businesses — certainly with the diversity of the projects you see here, the firms are incorporating better practices into their systems. What are the processes involved when it comes to the assessment? At the invitation of a business we assess against international standards, to provide them with certification and global recognition. We assess according to the International Standards Organisation criteria. I’m also the BSI Product Services Kitemark assessor for the Middle East for products. Building products are a huge area for us; we test everything from cement, UPVC plastic pipes, rubber for gaskets, windows, building materials — in fact any sorts of materials that carry the Kitemark. The Kitemark brand is unique to BSI and demonstrates the holder has addressed a vigorous regime of testing and compliance, before receiving approval. We carry out a series of rigorous tests on all the products in our laboratories and also we do site inspections. This makes our brand internationally credible. Samples are taken to ensure that they meet a range of technical criteria; this could be anything to do with hydrostatic tests, pressure tests, colouring, chemical analysis or even destructive testing, depending on the type of product. I would say that cement and plastics are among two of the most important sectors for us over here in terms of assessment within the construction industry. Plastic pipes in particular are widely used here for drainage, sewerage, water, oil — a whole range of uses. This is a big issue in the current construction market in the UAE. The major players registered with BSI include Future Pipe Group, National Plastic, Cosmoplast, Hepworth PME and Modern Plastic; and in the cement industry, we have Sharjah Cement and Ras Al Khaimah White Cement. In terms of testing each individual product, there is a set criteria that all of the products have to be tested against. The products have to be fit for their purpose and this is dependent on the specific technical criteria; this is why we have different types of Kitemarks. BSI offers a wide range of services to the construction industry, and this is reflected in the diversity of the companies who use our services.||**||

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