“One of the biggest impacts that achieving CORGI Accreditation has had on A1 Housing, is that we are now ‘on the map’ as leaders in gas safety,” said Andy Steen, Heating, Mechanical & Electrical Manager at A1 Housing Bassetlaw.
A1 Housing Bassetlaw has a social housing stock of 7,000 with around 6,000 of those having a natural gas supply. The properties are spread across the District of Bassetlaw north of Nottingham. Andy Steen heads up an internal team of five electricians and five gas engineers who carry out installations. He sub-contracts the annual and responsive services to an external contractor.
“Getting to the point where we had achieved CORGI Quality Accreditation was a progression,” said Andy. “In 2011-12 there were no professional gas qualifications in social housing and with the launch by CORGI of their Level 4 VRQ in Gas Safety Management in Social Housing, I became one of the first candidates to take the qualification. My staff also took VRQs and when the CORGI Accreditation Scheme was launched I could immediately see the value in going down the route to Accreditation.”
“In a pre-audit in 2013 it was confirmed that we were pretty good. Our procedures were safe and we were within the regulations,” continued Andy. “But there were some grey areas that could be improved and Accreditation offered a proper audit covering ten auditable gas procedures.”
The CORGI Quality Accreditation Scheme has been designed to assess the quality of management systems and processes that are in place for achieving safe gas work. Accreditation is valid for three years with annual surveillance visits. It addresses several key areas of gas safety management including:
- company gas policy
- specification/contractor selection
- voids procedure
- mutual/exchange procedure
- work records
- unsafe situation procedure
- access policy
- managing standards of work
- technical support
- complaints procedures
The CORGI Quality Accreditation is for social housing providers, landlords and contractors working with them and meeting the Accreditation standard will reduce the risk of a Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) serious detriment notice.
“We scored well in the audit,” continued Andy. “But as a follow up we put some new systems in place, had many internal meetings to discuss how we could improve some processes and put in place some changes.”
“The biggest impact for us though has been on our profile as an organisation and for me personally. Accreditation has really put us on the national ‘gas map’. I have had lots of emails from colleagues across the UK asking advice about best practice and procedures. As part of the Association of Gas Safety Managers I have had discussions with other members and expressed my views at events including the national AGSM Gas Safety Management Conference.”
A1 Housing are in the process of re-tendering the work carried out by contractors. “The new contract will have all of our new procedures built into it that we have established since Accreditation. The contractor must follow those procedures and so I will need to run an induction process to ensure they follow these. Any contractor who has themselves been through CORGI Accreditation would have in place the procedures that we require.”
“It has also had a major impact on the staff in raising their confidence,” continued Andy. “The combination of the Accreditation process and the knowledge they gained in completing their VRQ qualifications, has empowered them to make decisions on gas issues when they arise. All staff were uncertain about the impact before we went through Accreditation, but the process involved all staff at all stages. They were all interviewed and put forward ideas for better working practices and procedures.”
“They are now a very confident workforce and I am re-assured that through becoming CORGI Accredited we have robust procedures and systems in place which meet all necessary regulations for delivering gas safely to all of our properties. I am very pleased that we are ‘on the map’ as a leader in gas safety!”
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