Accreditation of Building Inspection Bodies can deliver confidence in construction. The best practice of quality assurance in the built environment shows accreditation of building inspection bodies is a key element to ensure that any approvals meet the required standards.
Accreditation comes into perspective by focusing on the ways and means of supporting professionalism in the construction industry, by ensuring that standards and regulations supporting the construction and built environment are implemented.
Standards and accredited conformity assessments are market-based tools that can be used in the construction sector to cover construction products and materials, building techniques and practices, on-site Health and Safety, environmental impact and the use of digital technology in smart buildings. Conformity assessment is an activity carried out to determine, directly or indirectly, that a process, product or service meets relevant technical standards and fulfills relevant requirements.
It is also commonly known as compliance assessment. In the case of the recent collapse of the seven storey building at Kware, Pipeline area in Nairobi; the Huruma tragedy and several other cases across the country, are pointers where regulators and private building inspection bodies could be subjected to conforming to accreditation.
Accreditation can support the construction sector to meet its need for smarter, cleaner and safer construction by providing assurance into the safety of the workforce on-site, the quality and origin of construction production and raw materials, the energy efficiency of buildings, the quality of design and architecture, the safe installation of electrical and gas networks, and the long-term sustainability of buildings.
In Northern Ireland, construction tenders require Environmental Management System (EMS) Certification. All construction works contracts procured by a Centre of Procurement Expertise (CoPE) include a requirement that all main contractors seeking to tender shall have and maintain an EMS certified by an accredited third party. The department has taken this step to minimize the impact that construction has on the environment and to ensure that contractors comply with applicable laws and regulations.
In New Zealand, the Building Construction Authority (BCA), which has similar mandate as the National Construction Authority (NCA), operates an accreditation and registration scheme based on international inspection standards and a suite of Building legislation designed to help improve the control of, and encourage better practice and performance in, building design, regulatory building control and building construction.
Additionally, they have established a Licensed Building Practitioner Scheme (LBPS) and a product certification scheme. The BCA scheme requires that any territorial authority or regional authority (council) that carries out building consent, inspection and approval work be accredited by a building consent accreditation body (International Accreditation New Zealand -IANZ) against the standards and criteria in the Building (Accreditation of Building Consent Authorities) Regulations 2006.
The council must then be registered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employee against the standards and criteria in the Building (Registration of Building Consent Authorities) Regulations 2007.
Kenya Accreditation Service
Kenya Accreditation Service (KENAS) reiterates that we cannot keep ignoring the importance of quality assurance in the construction industry and the built environment. KENAS has been on the forefront in rallying the call that accreditation of building inspection firms (both governmental, non-governmental, national or county) is key in ensuring quality and safety of constructed buildings.
In Kenya, the government has established Kenya Accreditation Service, (KENAS) to offer much needed accreditation services in Kenya. Established under the States Corporations Act, Cap 446; vide Legal Notice No. 55 of May 2009 KENAS mandate is to give formal attestation that Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) such as an building inspection bodies are competent to carry out specific conformity assessment activities.
In the building sector, an accreditation and registration scheme would help assure the public of the quality of building controls and identify good building control practice and provide mechanisms for sharing this information throughout the sector. This fosters continuous improvement in building controls at national and county level.
County governments may contract others to undertake some or all of their construction mandates such as inspection functions, but this does not relieve them of the requirement to be accredited and registered.
It is a growing worldwide notion that accreditation ensures that proper procedures and standards are maintained in line with international standards (e.g. ISO/IEC 17020: 2012 Conformity Assessment – Requirements for the operation of various types of bodies performing inspection) coupled with adherence to national and county regulations.
By Sammy Milgo-Managing Director at Kenya Accreditation Service