What this move means for the ASCA, Industry Standards, ISO certification and the snow and ice management community.

December 7, 2018
by Mike Zawacki, editor

Earlier this week, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) announced it will acquire full ownership of the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) in a move it states will provide the highest quality third-party accreditation service to its clients around the globe.

But what does this move mean for the North American snow and ice management community? Well, it’s at the core of what the ASCA is all about in its mission to better the snow and ice industry.

First, I need to backtrack and explain how these two groups have been at play within the snow and ice industry.

The Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA) was founded upon four pillars, the first of which is the creation, publication and maintenance of Industry Standards. These standards are the only nationally approved standards that provide our industry with procedures for risk mitigation, proper documentation, and the defense of slip-and-fall claims. To legitimize the Industry Standards in the eyes of the courts, state and federal legislative bodies, and insurance companies, the ASCA earned accreditation for them by ANSI, a globally recognized accreditation body that assures and assess conformity of goods and services within specified standards benefiting public health, safety, environment and welfare. Snow and ice management fits right in there.

To assure its members absorbed and understood the Industry Standards, the ASCA established ASCA-C, an education-based risk management certification (Pillar 2).  

And to verify for those outside the industry that snow operations are following the Industry Standards, the ASCA created SN 9001, a quality management system specifically for the professional snow and ice management industry (Pillar 3). This verification program is based on ISO 9001 with additional requirements based on our industry and the Industry Standards. Contractors earn ISO 9001/SN 9001 certification through an independent, third-party audit conducted by an ANAB-accredited body, such as Smithers Quality Assessment.

“Both organizations (ANSI and ANAB) already have a strong market presence, and now being united as the ANSI National Accreditation Board will bring an even higher level of recognition, confidence and trust in the value of accreditation,” said ANSI President and CEO Joe Bhatia in an official statement.

We had some additional questions about the merger's impact, so we reached out to Susanah Doucet, ANSI’s media liaison for some insight.

Snow Magazine: What impact will this acquisition have on certification bodies/auditors?
Susanah Doucet: At present, ANSI and ANAB will carry on business as usual with the intent to minimize disruptions as decisions on operational integration are made. Certification bodies and auditors will continue to work with their current staff contacts. And as always, an accreditation is valid through the expiry date on the certificate of accreditation, as long as it is maintained in accordance with the current accreditation requirements.

Will it impact certification cost?
No immediate pricing increases or reductions will occur.

Right now there seem to be more “standards” than certifications. Will this move lead to more established standards being audited?
Not necessarily. ANSI and ANAB exist to serve the needs of customers and this will not change. The demand for certification has been and will continue to be determined by the marketplace. As new standards are published, our intent is to develop accreditation programs in response to customer demand. The level of interest in certification varies widely for different management system standards and often builds over time.

Will this acquisition simplify the understanding and implementation of the standards and certification processes?
Yes. Clients who have multiple accreditations with ANSI and ANAB will enjoy one-stop shopping for accreditation needs, as well as the flexibility and efficiency that comes from being part of a larger organization with robust support systems and services. ANSI has always owned a portion of ANAB; therefore, those same benefits will remain. Both ANSI and ANAB have very strong name recognition and brand awareness in the U.S. and globally. Additionally, ANSI and ANAB accreditation programs are widely recognized by many federal and state government agencies.  

Some service industry professionals perceive ISO certification as being overly complicated. Will this acquisition attempt to better serve service professionals seeking certification?
Yes. As operational integration progresses, ANSI and ANAB are strongly committed to continually improving the high level of service its clients expect. Feedback on any aspects of our accreditation services delivery is welcome.

So, the way I see it, this move – like the majority of mergers and acquisitions – seeks to consolidate resources with the intent of establishing greater efficiencies and improving services to clients, which is you if you’re a snow contractor who has adopted Industry Standards and have, or are seeking, ISO certification. Then again, only time will tell how fruitful this endeavor will truly be for all parties, including the snow and ice management community.

If you have any further questions about this merger and its impact on our industry, shoot an email my way (mzawacki@gie.net) and I’ll seek to get them answered and share the responses with the rest of the snow and ice community.

Mike Zawacki is the editor of Snow Magazine.