In June 2021, Ansaldo Nuclear became only the 2nd company in the UK to achieve certification for ISO 19443 - a new standard that combines the principles of one of the world’s most renowned quality standards with the specific requirements of the nuclear industry.
Five months later, and our company is already starting to see the benefits of achieving this new standard, both in terms of product quality and nuclear safety culture.
We spoke to David Rasdell, Governance, Systems & Assurance Manager at Ansaldo Nuclear and someone who played a leading role in achieving the standard, to learn more about ISO 19443 and how it is helping Ansaldo to drive improvements throughout the company.
Why was it important for Ansaldo Nuclear to achieve ISO 19443?
We started looking into ISO 19443 back in 2016 because we think it’s important as a company to always be on the front foot and looking to improve. It’s still a relatively new standard in the UK and it gives Ansaldo yet another point of differentiation.
The main benefit to the certification is that it includes elements that are specific to nuclear manufacturing, such as the determination of items that are important to nuclear safety or counterfeit fraudulent suspect items. It goes beyond ensuring people are working safely in a nuclear environment; it’s about the safety of what you actually build to put into that system.
We take that duty seriously, and ISO 19443 ultimately builds on the systems and processes that we’ve already got in place to maintain quality and safety and takes that to another level.
How difficult has it been to maintain these new standards?
Maintaining these high standards is always a challenge because there are certain things that you have to constantly work towards and keep evidence of to demonstrate that you’re doing what you say. Some of those things are fairly meticulous and require a lot of attention, but by doing the hard work upfront we are improving the way we manage our organisation, which will make meeting those new requirements much simpler in the future.
There’s always more work to do and there are always things that you can do better, but through these critical assessments and audits, we can identify where our weaknesses lie and improve those things for the better.
Our company has always operated at those exceptionally high standards. Now we just have another badge to prove it.
What has been the biggest change since achieving the new standard?
It’s a little bit early to say just how much our processes have improved because the fundamental framework of this new certification is part of ISO 9001 – and we’ve been working to those high standards for years.
I think the key difference is that those extra, nuclear-specific elements are now going to be assessed. Previously, clients may have asked about counterfeit fraudulent suspect items and we would have met those demands, but from a certification perspective, there was nothing there to hold us to account. Moving forward, we’ll be doing everything possible to show that we are meeting every requirement we need to.
Externally, the fact that we have this new standard is also generating some significant interest. Clients expect you to have ISO 9001, 14001 & 45001… but ISO 19443 is something different. It’s a completely independent check that your systems are healthy and doing what they’re supposed to do. It gives us confidence in our processes, and that gives clients confidence in us too.
The message it sends out is clear: Ansaldo Nuclear is serious about producing products that are fit for purpose and fulfil all the needs and expectations of the industry that we’re in.
Can you explain what you mean by ‘nuclear safety culture’?
I think this is an area where we’ve also developed significantly since achieving ISO 19443. People throughout the business have become more engaged, and the fact that this certification supports and enhances the rest of the work that we do means we’re beginning to bring all of our safety processes together into one single approach. It’s clearer, it’s more effective and it’s safer.
When we talk about ‘nuclear safety culture’, we’re talking about driving openness in the business – one which is completely transparent. And we’re already starting to see that more people are comfortable coming forward with ideas, questions, or concerns. Not only does that stop people from worrying in silence, but it also allows them to focus on the task at hand and drives improvement.
So, where does Ansaldo Nuclear go from here?
If we are successful in maintaining this new standard alongside ISO 45001, then we can show beyond doubt that Ansaldo Nuclear is growing, that we look after our people and that we produce quality products.
Everything that we do is driven around those three elements, and anything we can do to improve the way that we meet those requirements, we will – whether that’s by reducing non-renewable resources, making sure that people are safe on-site, or making sure that the product is safe to use.
You can learn more about ISO 19443 at https://www.lrqa.com/en-gb/iso-19443.