Why are accreditations important in the offshore energy sector?

Why are accreditations important in the offshore energy sector?

Why are ISOs so important?

The purpose of ISOs is, in a way, to provide a management tool: they’re a framework against which a business is measured. There are over 25,000 different ISOs, and they enable consumers, suppliers, users, developers, governments and regulatory bodies the confidence and assurance that what a company does (whether in a product or service industry) is safe, reliable and of good quality. The ones FoundOcean has are 9001 Quality Management, 14001 Environmental Management System, and 45001 Health and Safety Management.

ISOs are a very well-known accreditation, but their importance can often be misrepresented; they are not just a piece of paper or a certificate to hang up on the wall. ISOs are an important part of the contracts and tenders process and often appear on the pre-qualification questionnaire (PPQ). They evidence to potential partners and collaborators that this company’s way of working is of a certain quality. Having ISO certifications builds confidence for future collaborators and contractors working with us and enables us to be involved in new and exciting projects.


What is the auditing process like?

We have been through the auditing process many times now as we have to be re-certified every 3 years. We work with a company called DNV as our certification body and, whilst we have built a good rapport with our auditor, it doesn’t mean we get an easy ride – sometimes there are difficult questions.

The approach is flexible enough that we can use our own methodology, but measure it against a common, structured framework. There are 10 sections to help set goals, with one of the key requirements being continuous improvement: the idea that we will constantly be reviewing our management system and making small changes to become more efficient, keep people safer, improve our environmental credentials, and so on. They are actually very helpful.

An audit helps identify things that are not working well and allows the management team to reflect on them. It helps us to question if we need to change direction or stop doing something.

The process isn’t about pointing fingers and placing blame – everybody has a role to play and responsibility for improvement is companywide. Even if something is only recorded as an observation (and so is not ‘penalised’ in any way) I would always then discuss this with the rest of the senior leadership, as even an observation matters to us – if the auditors thought it worth noting, then we think it worth addressing!


What is your association with the British Safety Council?

The British Safety Council membership is about making sure no one is injured or made ill through carrying out their work. This is a good summary from their own website:

“We are a trusted leader in health, safety and environmental management. As a not-for-profit organisation, we use all our resources to reduce risk and prevent injuries in the workplace, across the world. We help organisations - of all sizes and in all sectors - develop and maintain effective policies and processes.”

Working in the offshore energy sector obviously comes with risks, both offshore and on land, working with heavy-lifting vehicles and vessels, or being at sea in inclement weather conditions. This means it is vitally  important for a company such as ours to uphold a very high standard of safety. British Safety Council affiliation is, again, useful for PQQs, but it is also good for site morale, to let people know that they're doing the right thing in their day-to-day job, that we are a safe company to work for, we are diligent and we are responsible. 

In the near future, I intend to apply for one of their Five Star Audits and see what level FoundOcean can achieve. If a company does exceptionally well, they can go on to receive a Wilkinson Sword Award, and are presented with a real sword to display.  I’ve visited a company which has 11 of them in their entrance hall – like an armoury! It’s certainly a talking point and a bit different to the normal plaque on the wall.


What is the significance of the two Achilles accreditations?

The Achilles accreditations are relevant to the whole supply chain in the energy sector. In the past, they covered oil and gas, but, given the ongoing green energy transition, their audits now cover renewables too, such as wind, solar and tidal. One major difference from an ISO audit is that we receive a percentage score, so we can really see, year-on-year, where a score has changed and by how much.

As of the latest round, FoundOcean has two Achilles certifications: Global Energy, in which we achieved Gold, and UVDB, where we received Silver Plus, the highest in that category.

UVDB is a recent accreditation for us and one that is becoming extremely important in the sector. It stands for the Utility Vendor Database and it did indeed start with the ‘utilities’, electricity, gas and water companies, but has since expanded. Many companies are now seeing the benefit of having the UVDB ‘stamp’. Utilities companies – Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) would be a great example – are now major players in the offshore wind market and they often require businesses to have the UVDB accreditation – without it a company may not even get onto their register to tender for works.

I am so proud of our scores on the last assessment, we achieved over 98% for our management systems, and 100% for our site inspection. I keep the audit declaration form up on my wall because I’m still so blown away by it!

Accreditations demonstrate that that we do things right and we do them well. I am very proud of all we have achieved. Wherever in the company someone works, in the office or offshore, operational or not, we all have a part to play when it comes to the audits. Our clients value our professional approach and our long years of expertise. Backed by accreditations like these, it cements (excuse the pun!) the trust they put in us when it comes to grouting their subsea projects.


For more information on FoundOcean’s experience and capabilities, contact the team on +44 1506 440330 or email info@foundocean.com