Awarding Body Spotlight: International Accreditation Society (iAS)

Audit By Matthew Coombes

iAS (International Accreditation Society) was established in 1998 as a non-profit making body to provide a facility for organisations to access organisational, professional and personal development in risk management, linked to independent assessment and iAS awards.

As part of its scope iAS sets competency standards for important roles and provides an accreditation process to enable organisations to become Accredited Training Providers and to deliver iAS approved courses.

Alternatively, an organisation can submit their courses for approval by iAS and be accredited to deliver them under iAS External Quality Assurance processes. If the organisation wishes to, their courses can be added to the iAS register of approved courses so that other organisations can access and become accredited to deliver them. This can provide the organisation with an enhanced reputation and could have a commercial benefit.

When iAS was originally founded one of the first needs identified was for standards to set for the delivery of training and assessments in relation to competences that were not being provided by other similar organisations.

The first area of competence that iAS focused on was audit skills. The audit skills competences that iAS established defined best practice and were centred on the principle of positive auditing, something that was not always part of techniques used by auditors. Positive auditing was, and still is, an essential aspect of the audit competences iAS requires, which tends to differentiate it from other training and assessment bodies.

The original audit competency standard and course derived from it was called Certificate in Safety Programme Auditing (CSPA) and, because it established a clear pathway to competence in a field that was not well defined, it was taken up widely by organisations who wanted to determine if their health and safety policy was adequate and how effective it was. This included organisations as diverse as petrochemical, councils, rail, power industry, manufacturing, construction, police and the NHS.

This established iAS as an influential organisation in this field and the CSPA as an important competency that helped organisations to shape the way they managed health and safety and change auditing to be a positive experience.

The standards set for these competences have endured well over the many years since they were launched and have been reflected in the ISO standard for auditing management systems – ISO 19011. The CSPA competency standard was refreshed and renamed in 2011 to Audit Skills, retaining the same positive auditing principle. iAS have stated that they are pleased to see that the most recent edition of ISO 19011, which was also refreshed in 2018, is even closer to the approach set in the iAS competency standard for audit skills, illustrating that the iAS standard for audit skills training and assessment remains relevant today.

The standards that have been set for audit skills competence have been a continuum, but iAS has kept pace with current needs and developed further standards for competencies. When the Construction (Design and Management) (CDM) Regulations were introduced a working party of experienced specialists developed a competency standard for the role of Planning Supervisor, an appointment that was legally required for construction projects. When the CDM Regulations were revised it introduced the role of the ‘Principal Designer’, and subsequent competences for this role were also developed and added to the iAS portfolio. Other important competences were developed for auditing health and safety management systems to recognised standards, including OHSAS 18001, ISO 45001 and ISO 14001.

Other competencies that iAS have worked with organisations to approve relate to senior/middle management roles and a range of risks, including fire, environmental, asbestos, legionella.

ACT’s awareness level health and safety training courses are iAS has approved and cover a range of topics including fire, use of display screen equipment, asbestos, manual handling and general health and safety. We also deliver many of the competences above including the popular Audit Skills Training.

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