Learning more about the standards and requirements that companies may need to meet in order to work in nuclear is not as daunting as you think. Below is a simple set of guidelines for you to consider.
- Safety Culture. To supply goods and products into nuclear then we always recommend that you examine your approach to safety and the safety culture within your company, (from the car park, through the factory and to the products manufactured and shipped). Bear in mind that a nuclear plant is most likely to have safely working life of some 50-60 years, and more. Given this, always take time to think seriously about what safety really means to you in workplace and those of your suppliers. Your customers, when assessing and auditing, will look very closely at this. To help with your understanding of more about what safety culture means, in the context of nuclear, then see: the Nuclear Institutes nuclear delta and World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) safety principles.
- ISO 9001. Being able to demonstrate of full compliance with and being accredited to ISO 9001 (Management Systems) is important, regardless of the edition your are accredited to today. Work closely with your accreditation body and make full use of the standard within your own internal audit activities to test and drive in good performance – through to your delivered products. In short, we will always recommend that your maintain your own continuing improvement plan throughout and on top of any plans used to support preservation of accreditations.
- ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001. Health safety and environmental standards are of real importance, and becoming increasingly so. There should be no surprise learn that your potential nuclear customers will have preferences here as well. Some customers may also set market entry levels based on these or equivalents being in place at time of qualification considerations. With this in mind, we recommend that companies look seriously towards becoming accredited to recognised standards ISO 14001 (Environmental Management) and OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health & Safety Management). We would encourage these being included on any company continuous improvement plan if not already in place today.
- ISO 27001. Over recent times we have all come to understand that much more about cyber security and associated matters. Given this we would recommend that all companies take a serious look at security and data protection with their own business with a view to giving consideration to ISO 27001 (Information Security Management). Companies may form a view that ‘our systems and procedures/practices and all in good shape’. Taking another look at and perhaps thinking more about including this in any continuous improvement plan is a strong recommendation. Again your potential nuclear customers would look favourably towards this during any assessment or audit. Also consider the same questioning of your key suppliers after all they are an extension of your capability offering (and risk).
- BS11001 now ISO 44001. In order to access to a larger market share, or to just enter the market for the first time, more companies are turning towards collaborative working (together) approaches. Major customers are promoting this approach. Formerly BS 11000, now ISO 44001 (Collaborative Business Management Relationship Systems) is the standard to consider if collaborative working is part of your companies strategy. If already accredited to BS11000 then upgrading to ISO 44001 is recommended at an appropriate time in the future. If you have not previously considered this then taking early advice and potential inclusion on any continuous improvement plan is recommended. Collaborative working is a much more complex area than many first imagine. Getting good advice before considering any form of collaborative working, and whether the new standard will be of benefit, is encouraged.
- Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery. Having a business continuity and/or disaster recovery plan in place for your company is another important recommendation. Your business may well have one but our recommendation here is always around: has this been regularly reviewed/ deployed in readiness for the day you may well need it? If in doubt then we would always recommend your inclusion on any continuing improvement plan.
- Documents & Records Control. Records and document control is particularly important, (and especially in nuclear as you would expect). In fact is more important than many believe. Having well documented processes, trained staff, with records to demonstrate this, robust levels of documents and audit controls is a really important aspect of nuclear sector working. Levels of documentation and their control, including within your own supply chains, is a fundamental requirement. Being able to demonstrate, as a normal business activity, with audited records to underpin this is an area where we would recommend intense scrutiny. We would also recommend advice being taken before embarking on a nuclear sector journey because there are lessons to learn from if pitfalls and safety compromises are to be avoided.
- The Nuclear AMRC through is Fit for Nuclear (F4N) programme, is one way of really getting to understand much more about this and what is required to succeed.
- Technical Reference(s). It is recognised that the nuclear industry is keen to draw on existing experience. Some may see this as being a barrier to market entry. With this in mind it is really important to know that the nuclear industry is particularly keen to develop new capabilities and to draw on the skills held by companies who may not have previously worked within the sector. Here companies should think positively in terms of their existing skills and capabilities and, the extent to which they are transferrable. In other words, a technical reference based on experience derived from other comparable sectors. This means that any company wanting to work within the nuclear industry should really be thinking about its capabilities and skills and how they can be related/translated to be appropriate to the sector. The prompt here is to think and develop a technical reference base in readiness for demonstration and use when nuclear sector tenders or expressions of interest/requests for information are being pursued.
- Continuous Improvement Plan. There are several references, made above, to a company having a clear and particularly well set out/managed continuous improvement plan. This in its simplest of forms is a companies template for improvement and development, and ideally owned, led and fully maintained by the companies Senior Management team. These plans can often take the form of development plans, actions plans or similar, see SC21 example continuous sustainable improvement plans (CSIP). Regardless of name, for a company to work and succeed in the nuclear sector then having a credible and well managed, potentially transparent, plan is key. Company accreditations, as noted above, will increasingly draw on these, hence our strong recommendation is that of: to ensure that any improvement plan used is a fundamental part of the business management system. Your ISO 9001 accreditation body will also guide you strongly in this regard, as will the Nuclear AMRC if your are engaged on an F4N programme.
For further advice or information relating to these guidelines then please do not hesitate to ask.