The Domestic Removals Standard
In the mid-1990s, as quality standards such as BS 5750 and then ISO 9000 gradually became established, the European removals industry came to realise that these were too generic and distant from their day-to-day activities and also over-demanding in irrelevant and unnecessary areas for smaller companies.
Led by a committee put forward by BAR (the British Association of Removers) it was decided to develop an industry-specific quality standard that would be realistic and affordable for all types and sizes of removal companies, especially those who operated primarily in the private, domestic sector.
Input on a number of key areas was gathered from numerous trade associations and national standards bodies across Europe (the counterparts of BSI, the British Standards Institution) and this was rationalised and published eventually as BS EN 12522:1998.
Some elements of the standard are mandatory, i.e. the standard says that certain measures “shall” be carried out and sometimes the exact requirement is specified. During audit by the certification company, any shortcoming against those will result in a “nonconformity” which will have to be remedied before a certificate is issued.
In other areas, the standard is less prescriptive and there are recommendations for best practice. When assessing a company’s performance against those, an auditor can show greater flexibility and if there is room for improvement the report will include appropriate recommendations and these will be followed up during the next year’s audit.
BS EN 12522 was written by persons with experience and understanding of the industry and a well-run removals company should find it easy to follow and should not have any difficulty interpreting and implementing the requirements (which cannot always be said with more generic standards such as ISO 9001).
In addition to several fundamental sections that provide the backbone of a quality management system, the standard covers the three phases of the removal service. Firstly the initial contact, survey and quotation, then the carrying out phase and lastly the follow-up, including quality measurement and remedying any shortcomings.
It is published in two parts: Part 1 specifies the service that is to be provided to the customer, whereas Part 2 describes the means by which this is to be done; the resources and the methods to be used.
The standard covers the following areas:
QSS holds accreditation from UKAS for its work on BS EN 12522 and is itself assessed by UKAS twice each year against the relevant auditing standard BS EN ISO-IEC 17065 2012.
When a removals company engages QSS (Quality Service Standards Ltd) to carry out its assessment and certification processes, a full day’s “Initial Assessment” will be carried out by QSS to audit the company’s compliance against the entire standard. Following this (and subject to the clearance of any nonconformities) a certificate will be issued, usually valid for 12 months. Annual assessments are then carried out, each covering certain elements of the standard and taking a half-day and normally leading to renewal of certification for a further 12 months (subject to any nonconformities).
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