ISO for Construction – A Hunt for Quality Control!

iso for construction

In this blog I want to talk about quality control through ISO certification while putting the limelight on the construction industry. The construction industry is a behemoth, therefore ISO for construction seems to be a critical aspect to focus on, don’t you agree?

Obviously, the first question that pops into one’s head when reading this is “How can ISO standards help with quality control?”

But, beforehand, we must discuss the construction industry and what it entails.

What Defines the Construction Industry?

The construction industry can be summed up to be the infrastructure that we utilize to effectively live and thrive. The ultimate aim for the construction industry is to create structures that can provide peace of mind to inhabitants of that building, to others who reside in the proximity of the said building and also, to provide jobs to skilful workers and individuals. The peace of mind that people seek is to know that the building has been constructed in a meticulous manner that ensures the safety of all inhabitants and those who are working in construction sites.

The construction industry can also be said to include the different elements that make up a building, such as water, electricity and sewage systems. These are essentially the infrastructure of a building, the systems that we nowadays consider to be vital to make use of a building effectively. Therefore, it is important that these are built according to standard and be finished to the highest of standards to avoid any complexities that may come up with time. So, the construction industry can be said to be critical, as through it, we can ensure that we are living in a country where we prioritise how a building is constructed, regulate the infrastructure and the finishings being used.

So, what are the type of companies that are involved in the construction industry?

Obviously, this type of industry starts from excavation of raw materials. In Malta, one raw material which was, and may still be, highly sought in the construction industry is the Globigerina Limestone, the rock that is commonly known as Franka in the Maltese language. This is a soft, gold rock limestone, one of the five sediments in the Maltese island’s rock formation. The Globigerina Limestone was heavily used in the past to construct buildings as it has the properties to keep a building cool in the intense summer heat and warm during the short winter days. Nowadays, the construction industry is making heavy use of concrete bricks and Maltese gravel to keep up with the demand in the construction industry.

However, this is where the issue of quality control comes into play. Unfortunately, in Malta, there are no quarries that have a CE marking, meaning it is effectively impossible to have manufacturers in Malta producing bricks or concrete with such markings, since one of the raw materials that is being used does not have a CE marking. So if you want to have a CE marking, you must first have a CE marking for all the raw materials being used. As a result, any manufacturer that is producing bricks and concrete by using Maltese gravel as a raw material, does not have a CE marking in their final product.

Moreover, the requirements for CE marking in Malta are not imposed in the construction industry as no construction company based in Malta has a CE marking on the materials being used. But, not having a CE marking from a quality point of view, is not something that should hinder you from having a high quality product for the construction industry. The construction industry starts from the harvesting of the raw material, then you have the manufacturing and the production of certain elements that are used in construction sites (concrete, bricks, mashes, pre-cast concrete slabs, asphalt, steel structures and more). These can be deemed to be the building blocks of the construction industry.

Obviously, you will have other companies involved in the industry, dealing with the actual construction of buildings, placing slab on top of the other, companies involved in excavation and demolition works to make way for other new buildings. You also have companies that provide a service to the construction industry, such as crane hire, that enables the construction companies to perform the tasks. So yes, when we speak of the construction industry, there are many different areas, all forming part of one big industry that ultimately, rely on one another to come up with a final product, that is the execution of a construction site.

Let’s take a look at ISO for construction Companies

When speaking about quality, we cannot skip over ISO 9001, a standard that is devoted solely to quality management. The main purpose of ISO 9001:2015 is to understand the customer requirement and provide a good or service that will solve the client’s demand to the highest of standards. So, if we take the example of concrete manufacturers and construction companies, ISO 9001 as a standard together with its quality management system can be highly beneficial to them to ensure that all quality requirements are met and if possible exceeded.

A concrete manufacturer can implement a quality control plan where every concrete batch can be tested to ensure that every batch being produced has a compressive strength to meet the required amount in newtons per millimetre squared. Companies without a quality management system are able to batch concrete without performing any internal testing to ensure that the compressive strength of the concrete being produced meets the specifications of the product being sold.


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On the other hand, a company performing the construction of a building may have a process, as part of its quality management system, where with every storey or so being built, a quality surveyor visits the site. The surveyor should have the necessary information and be wielded with a checklist to oversee the site and confirm that the building is being constructed as per the standards that have been agreed upon. This job can be performed by the architect as well, as long as this person confirms that everything checks out and the building is being constructed according to the construction plan and as per the trade dictates.

Here, one can easily see how companies within the construction industry are able to have systems of quality in place as per the standard of ISO 9001:2015, where quality is regarded as a priority. Of course, the examples above are only a couple from a vast ocean of possibilities that can be implemented in line with ISO 9001. ISO 9001 can delve into further detail than this. For instance, with ISO 9001, companies can implement systems to see that the construction workers that are employed have adequate training, are knowledgeable enough and have the right certification to perform certain duties.

Moreover, ISO 9001 can also be used to go over maintenance plans for the machinery that is to be used in performing construction activities. If calibration is to be performed to some measuring instruments, say for example to measure the weight of concrete batches being given to clients, this has to be done and be treated as a measuring device that is calibrated and certified in giving accurate readings.

Of course, ISO 9001 can be used in other sectors of the construction industry, where companies can use this standard to have a system or rather a foundation where someone is checking them, from the perspective of both an internal auditor and an external certification body. The government can also enforce ISO 9001, through further detailed policies, and can even make ISO 9001 certification, or at the very least its framework, as a requirement to make sure that things are being done as they should when it comes to meeting quality standards.

When speaking about the construction industry and ISO standards, we cannot forget to mention the construction laboratories that are found in Malta. In total, the Maltese islands have just 2 accredited construction laboratories which check products of materials such as concrete. The reason behind the low number of laboratories that test the quality of raw materials in Malta is simply because many construction sites do not require to have their concrete tested for quality. Moreover, in Malta there are some other laboratories who do not possess the required licensing to perform testing on raw materials, yet they still do.

For a laboratory to issue recognised certifications about material testing, the laboratory must be in possession of an accreditation known as ISO 17025, which deals with testing of materials in laboratories. This accreditation goes into great detail into how procedures are being executed in the lab, therefore one should be at peace if they are working with an ISO 17025 accredited laboratory for construction material testing. The verdict reached by an ISO 17025 accredited laboratory possesses a lot of power in the construction industry.

This is my take on ISO for the construction industry and how they are, or rather how they should be, intertwined together. Through ISO standards, construction companies would be put in a position where they have to focus on the mentality of traceability, accountability and the concept of auditing and documentation.

In the educational system, the Malta Further and Higher Education Authority imposes certain regulations on educational institutes that must be followed prior to the operations of said institutions. How can we have such systems imposed in the educational institution yet have nothing to for the construction industry, an industry which has been lately making headlines for all the wring reasons. These are concepts which seem critical for the construction industry, but truth be told we are still far away from having this as our reality.

INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT ISO in the construction industry?

Luke Desira is an ISO management system consultant who understands that taking the first step to achieve ISO certification is never easy. Make sure to listen to what Luke Desira has to say about Risk Management in ISO 9001:2015 and be sure to realise that mishaps are never far off. Read more about it here, where you can understand how things can go wrong when implementing any ISO Standard.

All management systems based on ISO Standards that are implemented should pertain directly to the organisation’s objectives, and ISO 9001 – Quality Management System  should be no different. Have a look at different ISO Certification specialised by Industry to understand in which category your organisation falls.

Luke offers a variety of ISO certification services that puts him as the #1 ISO Certification consultant in Malta. When ready, take the first step to success and call Luke Desira.

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