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Standard operations

by Alison Luke on Sep 24, 2009

BSI Abu Dhabi general manager Ahmad Al Khatib recommends iso9001 for quality.
BSI Abu Dhabi general manager Ahmad Al Khatib recommends iso9001 for quality.

The recent collapse of a newly constructed building in Dubai has brought build quality to the fore and in particular the adherence to recognised standards and certifications. What is expected of construction firms and is this likely to change? Construction Week investigates.

The collapse of an eight-storey building in Deira in mid-August hit the headlines across the region. The fact that it was a new built property and there was no immediate reason for the collapse, such as a fire, heightened concern over why it had happened.

The results of an investigation by Dubai Municipality into the collapse are expected to be announced within the next few weeks.

However, initial statements from the investigating committee have confirmed that aspects being included within their scope are whether suitable building materials were used in construction; whether the design of the structure was flawed; and the operational aspects of the project. One of the main ways to gauge all of these factors is whether they met approved standards and certifications.

But what does gaining recognised certifications actually mean and are the authorities likely to increase the stringency of their requirements following this latest incident?

Standard practice
There are a wide number of standards and certifications applicable to firms operating within the construction industry.

Those that must be adhered to by law vary according to discipline and the local authority regulations, however, certain standards are now recognised globally and widely used throughout the industry.

“From a certification perspective, I would say that ISO14,001 for environment; OHSAS 18,001 for occupational health and safety; in addition, ISO9001 for quality [are among the main standards that must be adhered to in GCC countries],” states BSI Abu Dhabi general manager Ahmad Al Khatib.

In general, the certification of firms to such standards shows that they adhere to recognised methods of working that have been set out within the listed standard.

The aim of doing so is to improve performance, efficiency and safety, with the certifications demonstrating the firm’s achievements to outside parties.

Although standards are voluntary and separate from legal and regulatory systems, they can be used to support or complement legislation.