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Keep up to date with Clear Safety by checking out our latest press releases below …

CLEAR SAFETY JOINS SOUTH EAST CONSORTIUM’S FIRE SAFETY FRAMEWORK

February 2022

Clear Safety announces that it has successfully completed the auditing process required by the South East Consortium’s (SEC) Fire Safety Framework, resulting in the consultancy now being included in the list of highly qualified and experienced fire safety consultants approved by SEC to conduct Compartmentation Surveys, Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs), Fire Door Inspections and Asset Tagging.

South East Consortium (SEC) is a central (not for profit) purchasing body providing services relating to public procurement predominantly in relation to the housing sector. Owned by 48 Housing Associations and Local Authorities, its members collectively own an impressive 452k homes.

Kent-based Clear, which enjoys a strong track record in the provision of fire-related safety, compliance, and risk management consultancy within the housing sector, is well placed to support SEC’s members who will have access to securing the services of the company’s dedicated team of Fire Safety consultants.

Commenting on Clear’s inclusion on the SEC framework, Director Matt Westby said,

Being acknowledged as an approved company by SEC is indicative of Clear’s renowned reputation within the housing association sector – while also affirming our established expertise in the delivery of exceptional fire-related safety and compliance guidance. Post Grenfell and in the wake of the latest Building Safety Bill, Clear’s services are in high demand, and we have expanded our team, as well as sourced new offices, to accommodate the increased volume of requests for our professional support. We welcome the opportunity to compete for contracts via the SEC framework and look forward to sharing our specialist knowledge and insights with members of this prestigious organisation.

South East Consortium - a non profit

CLEAR SAFETY’S SUCCESSFUL SCHOOL SPORTS SPONSORSHIP PROGRAMME SMASHES TARGET!

February 2022

Clear Safety - the safety and compliance specialist has successfully smashed its year one target linked to delivering a sports sponsorship programme to Thanet area schools via Cliftonville Hockey Club’s community outreach programme.

The initiative, which started just four months ago, has already resulted in the delivery of hockey coaching to 11 primary and secondary schools across the Thanet area hitting the original target of 10-12 schools in the first year of the programme. Spearheaded by James Provins, Club Treasurer of Cliftonville Hockey Club, it offers fun and enjoyable hockey sessions to children aged between 9-14.

Designed to encourage more young people into the sport a mix of eight junior and senior schools are on board, including St Nicholas at Wade, Upton, Dane Court, Garlinge, Northdown, St George’s CofE Primary & Secondary & Chilton. In addition, three schools are being coached this term, including two follow-ups from last term: Chatham House, St Laurence Primary, Newlands and continued sessions for St George’s CofE primary and secondary. By providing introductory sessions to the sport, it is anticipated that the same schools will adopt a more formal training programme in year 2.

Plans are also afoot to introduce a local schools hockey tournament. Originally planned for Spring 2022 this will be rescheduled to year two of the programme due to the current Covid situation. The competition will involve schools across Thanet and it is hoped that this will become an annual event.

Clear Safety’s sponsorship is helping to fund the cost associated with delivering the specialist training from qualified sports coach Isaac Dilkes.

Matt Westby, Director at Clear Safety said, “We are delighted with the response to this project which is designed to provide many children across Thanet with the opportunity to enjoy the benefits associated with exercise and also to gain access to a sport that they may otherwise not be able to experience. The relationships we are developing with the schools are strong and this was the key objective for year one. We’ve received excellent feedback in the first half of the season with schools commenting on how pleased they are with the high standard of coaching and how much the children are enjoying the hockey sessions. We look forward to the programme’s continuing success with more schools set to join in the coming months. With Clear’s strong track record in delivering safety and compliance management within the schools’ sector, this sponsorship continues to represent a natural fit for our business providing an opportunity for children to participate in a fun, safe and competitive environment.”

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CLEAR SAFETY LENDS SUPPORT TO NETWORK HOMES FIRE SAFETY PROGRAMME

February 2022

Hot on the heels of announcing fire safety consultancy support to Metropolitan Thames Valley, Clear Safety – the safety and compliance management specialist – has been asked to support Network Homes with managing its fire safety remedials programme.

Network Homes is a charitable housing association that provides over 20,000 affordable homes to more than 38,000 people across London and Hertfordshire.

Clear will be working with the housing association to prioritise remedial works referenced in recent fire risk assessments, to ensure a timely and efficient progression of any priority corrective measures required to maintain Network Homes’ vigilant approach to fire safety.

Commenting on the appointment, Director Matt Westby said, “Clear Safety has significant experience of providing specialist counsel to the social housing sector. Our team of consultants understand the complexities associated with working at scale, across a broad portfolio of properties, to maintain compliance and of course, to uphold the client’s unwavering commitment to delivering a safe living environment for its tenants. We are delighted to be working with Network Homes and look forward to sharing our knowledge and established expertise of the required fire safety protocols – both current and impending - to elicit an expedited response to fire risk assessment recommendations.”

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CLEAR SAFETY JOINS CHIC FRAMEWORK

January 2022

Clear Safety is delighted to announce that it has successfully undergone the rigorous review by CHIC (Communities & Housing Investment Consortium) and as a result has been added to CHIC’s Compliance Audit framework. This enables Clear to be a visible and CHIC approved supplier which is well placed to provide compliant procurement solutions, contract and commercial management support to UK housing associations, local authorities and other public sector bodies and charities.

Clear, which specialises in safety, compliance, and risk management consultancy, has joined the roster of companies competing for projects pertaining to commercial and domestic gas, electrical safety, fire safety, mechanical & electrical services, and water hygiene.

Commenting on Clear’s inclusion on the CHIC framework, Matt Westby said, “We are delighted to join the elite roster of companies deemed to meet the discerning criteria set by CHIC and in particular, to have been successful in being awarded all six of the lots that we applied for. The fact that we scored full marks across the board on quality and were therefore ranked the highest quality supplier in each category we entered is testament to the exceptional commitment to excellence regularly demonstrated by the Clear Safety team. We are incredibly proud of this achievement and take pride in the fact that our ongoing programme of investing in staff is clearly reaping rewards.”

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CLEAR SAFETY JOINS CIBSE HNC REGISTER

December 2021

Clear Safety is delighted to announce that its team of specialist consultants for heating systems now includes a certified CIBSE (Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers) Heat Networks Consultant.

Clear, which specialises in safety, compliance and risk management consultancy is regularly involved in the review of heating solutions for its clients, which includes a number of high-profile housing associations. District heating systems which are designed to generate energy efficient heat from a centralised location which is then distributed amongst multiple buildings, is fast becoming a popular choice due to the lowered carbon footprint and improved pollution control associated with this method of heat supply.

Commenting on Clear’s inclusion on the Heat Networks Consultant register, Matt Westby said,

“Our role at Clear is to provide our clients with guidance on the most up to date and innovative operational solutions to not only ensure adherence to both current and impending regulations, but also to enable them to demonstrate a responsible and proactive approach to reducing carbon and pollution emissions by adopting best-in-class environmental practices. We actively encourage our team of consultants to seek out the highest and most relevant industry certifications so that we are in a position to offer superior, future perfect oversight on a broad range of compliance management matters.”

In addition, Clear is working towards becoming a CIBSE Certified Low Carbon Consultant, to demonstrate industry recognised competency in improving the energy performance of both new and existing buildings.

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METROPOLITAN THAMES VALLEY APPOINTS CLEAR TO OVERSEE FIRE SAFETY REMEDIAL PROGRAMME

November 2021

Clear Safety – the safety and compliance management specialist – has been appointed by Metropolitan Thames Valley to provide dedicated consultancy support to manage the housing association’s fire safety programme.

Metropolitan Thames Valley (formerly Metropolitan) is partnered with Thames Valley Housing and provides housing at different levels of affordability for people living in the London, South East, East Midland and East of England areas, and is a member of G15 which represents London’s 15 largest housing associations.

The brief to Clear is to manage the quality of the assessment regime, advise on the prioritisation of remedial works, assist with fire alarm maintenance, installation & removal, advise on complex fire safety issues and ultimately maintain the housing association’s commitment to fire safety excellence. Clear’s highly experience fire safety team will work with each contractor to ensure all specified works are completed in line with best industry practice, on time and on budget.

Commenting on the appointment, Director Matt Westby said, “In the wake of the Grenfell tragedy, our specialist knowledge of fire safety has been in high demand, especially within the social housing sector. We take pride in our ability to work as an extension of the client’s in-house team, delivering a seamless service to ensure that the necessary work is undertaken to maintain compliance, but always at a fair price and to the stringent standards that our clients expect. Our comprehensive cloud-based system provides ‘live’ access to all contractor activity and offers clear evidence of an organisation’s intentions to establish the highest calibre fire safety protocols. We are delighted to be working with Metropolitan Thames Valley and look forward to delivering high quality risk assessment and proportional outcomes for the housing association’s fire safety programme whilst maintaining rigorous and evidential financial control, as per our track record in this sector.”


CLEAR SAFETY SUPPORTS SPORTS PROGRAMME FOR SCHOOLS

September 2021

Clear Safety - the safety and compliance specialist – is sponsoring Cliftonville hockey club’s Community Outreach project, designed to encourage more young people into the sport.

The initiative, which is targeting over 300 children, is spearheaded by James Provins Club Treasurer of Cliftonville Hockey Club and will run over a 6–8-week period, delivering fun and enjoyable hockey sessions to children aged between 9-14.

To date, 12 schools (six junior and six senior) have signed up to the programme, which entitles each educational establishment to free hockey training in the first year, in the hope that this will trigger a more commercial arrangement post the trial period.

Plans are also afoot to introduce a local schools hockey tournament in Spring 2022. The competition will involve schools across Thanet and will become an annual event.

Clear Safety’s sponsorship is helping to fund the cost associated with delivering the specialist training from qualified sports coach Isaac Dilkes.

James Provins commented:

“It’s fantastic to be able to welcome Clear Safety on board to support our Community Schools Outreach project. This project is not only vital for the future of our hockey club but will also provide many children across Thanet with the opportunity to enjoy the benefits associated with exercise and access to a sport that they may otherwise not be able to experience. Cliftonville hockey club is incredibly grateful for the support from Clear Safety, and we look forward to growing our partnership in years to come”.

Matt Westby, Director at Clear Safety added:

“I have always believed very strongly in the proven benefits that club sport brings to young people. Clubs provide a safe environment for children to learn life skills and develop friendships that can last a lifetime and are especially helpful for children who may find school difficult. With Clear’s strong track record in delivering safety and compliance management within the schools’ sector, this sponsorship represents a natural fit for our business.”

Photo left to right: James Provins, Isaac Dilkes, Matt Westby

View Video on our YouTube channel

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CLEAR SAFETY CREATES NEW CLIENT MANAGER ROLE

August 2021

Clear Safety, the safety, compliance and risk consultancy, has appointed Frederick Squire into the newly created role of Client Manager.

Frederick joins the business from a commercial operations / logistics background and has a strong track record in client liaison, which is complemented by established expertise in project & process management and the interpretation of data, all of which represent key skills consistent with the position with Clear.

Working across Clear’s portfolio spanning businesses operating predominantly in the housing association and education sectors, Frederick will be responsible for providing the conduit between Clear’s extensive team of technical experts and key contacts client side.

Commenting on his appointment Frederick says:

“I’m delighted to be joining Clear at such an exciting point in their growth and development. My previous roles have enabled me to hone my skills as an effective manager responsible for regularly reviewing processes to identify the most efficient and cost-effective route to achieve optimum results. As a former Data & Insight analyst I am proficient in the analysis of data and understanding how this information can be used to improve customer performance. Working with Clear provides the ideal opportunity to transfer these competencies to a new and progressive business environment.”

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A CLEAR SOLUTION TO GROWING WAKING WATCH COSTS

July 2021

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) recently advised a London Assembly committee that there are now over 900 blocks – with the figure steadily rising - of flats with a waking watch in place, the cost to fund these patrols is set to dramatically exceed the £30m government fund that has been allocated.

But is a waking watch the best solution to protect residents living in properties which feature potentially unsafe cladding? Employing personnel to stay on site overnight and man fire exits within the building to ensure the safe egress and speedy evacuation of the premises, is reliant on identifying and employing competent individuals and is therefore vulnerable to the scope for human error. In addition, the crippling costs associated with this exercise could result in other safety priorities being compromised due to a serious lack of funding.

Clear Safety – the safety and compliance specialist - has identified a cost-effective temporary wireless-based fire alarm system to address the problem. Their solution not only delivers a safer environment for the residents with less reliance on human intervention, it also represents a highly cost-effective alternative, saving a London housing association client around £3 million in waking watch costs over one year.

And the temporary arrangement can also be converted to a permanent fire alarm system at a later date if required – providing further cost benefits.

Enhanced safety and proven adherence to the required compliance protocols, whilst still successfully reducing costs will result in a win-win for both residents and landlord. Contact Clear Safety to find out more, telephone 01303 684001 or email info@clearsafety.co.uk


POST GRENFELL: A SAFE AND COST-EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVE TO A WAKING WATCH

March 2021

Clear – the safety and compliance specialist – is working to help landlords whose properties do not have a fire alarm system, but which feature potentially unsafe cladding, to address the crippling costs associated with paying for the waking watch required until the hazardous material is removed from the building.

Employing personnel to stay on site overnight and man fire exits within the building to ensure the safe egress and speedy evacuation of the premises, represents a major expenditure. More importantly, such initiatives are vulnerable to the scope for human error and rely on identifying and employing competent individuals.

To address this problem, Clear specified a temporary (wireless) basic L5 (localised fire protection) fire alarm system manufactured by Hi Fire that features heat/smoke detectors at all openings to any clad wall (i.e., windows and balcony doors) which can be installed in any building. If a fire breaks out, the alarm sounds and alerts the residents, effectively dispensing with the need for a waking watch service. Installing the temporary fire alarm system represents the rough equivalent of about one to two months of funding a waking watch. So, the new solution not only delivers a safer environment for the residents with less reliance on human intervention, but also represents a considerable financial saving, given that it will generally be more than three months before any cladding works can even commence.

Clear has already rolled out this system on behalf of one of its housing association clients. Although the concept of adopting a temporary system is not new, many landlords are concerned that they don’t have the requisite expertise or access to the appropriate resources to ensure a seamless, speedy installation and are fearful of being exposed to further risk. Clear oversaw the whole process from specifying the alarm system, including a detailed spec for contractors to price; performing a quality assessment of contractors to procure the best workforce (both in terms of quality of workmanship and price); issuing contract documents and managing the installation including a 10% post inspection regime and 100% provision of proof of works via Clear’s robust reporting system. The latter is vital as without evidence of commissioning and placement of fire detectors, a waking watch cannot be decommissioned. Finally, only when the team was satisfied with the evidence that all works had been completed to a satisfactory standard, Clear instructed final payment and commissioning of the alarm system.

Enhanced safety and proven adherence to the required compliance protocols, whilst still successfully reducing costs resulted in a win-win for both the residents and the landlord.


PROTECTING HOUSING DEVELOPERS POST GRENFELL

March 2021

Clear is delighted to be working with a major housing developer, to undertake periodic inspections of a number of its large-scale developments to provide unbiased evidence of the satisfactory completion of fire compartmentation works (quality, identification of remedials and completions) during the construction phase of each building.

The remit will require Clear to inspect each floor of the development, at the appropriate time, and upon completion of the entire block, to undertake a final inspection.

Commenting, Director Matthew Westby said:

“The decision to work with Clear is based on our ability to provide an impartial and informed risk assessment of the building, to demonstrate that all works are compliant with latest industry recommendations. This means that in the event of any future claims in relation to a fire incident at the development which spreads, the developer’s liability will not be in dispute. In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, anyone purchasing a property in a residential block is going to want total reassurance that the necessary steps have been taken to ensure that if disaster does strike and a fire breaks out, residents will not be trapped and the fire won’t spread in the same way as played out in the fateful events of 17th June 2017. And of course, developers need to take the necessary precautionary steps to be able to demonstrate compliance and therefore avoid costly litigation.”

Anyone purchasing a property will have access to Clear’s meticulous independent records which will serve as proof of the developer’s strong commitment to compliance.


BACK TO SCHOOL, BUT IS IT SAFE?

March 2021

As schools prepare to make a return to ‘normal’ service, the focus in recent times has been on Covid-secure measures, but those in charge of site safety and security should also ensure that this is not at the expense of other important health and safety considerations.

Clear, the safety and compliance specialist with a strong track record of working in the education sector, advises the following checks are made prior to opening up the school to normal pupil numbers next week:

  • Carry out a site walk of the whole site. It's good to involve a senior leader as well as the site manager. Look out for issues around the perimeter such as harmful litter (for example discarded sharps in the grounds, smashed bottles) and broken or perished play equipment
  • Review the standard of cleaning and housekeeping, ensure all electrics (switches/sockets) and lights work and are safe
  • Check that all fire exits are clear and operational. Test the fire alarm system and make sure that all sounders and emergency mechanisms work (such as door releases and shutters). Make sure that all smoke/heat heads are uncovered (since these are often covered during work undertaken by contractors). Check fire doors to ensure they are operational and able to close with an effective good seal. Visually check all fire extinguishers to rule out any potential tampering / changed siting of extinguishers.
  • Check that all plant room functions are fully operational
  • Flush all water outlets thoroughly to clear any bacteriological build up. Descale any showerheads
  • Test all emergency lighting
  • If automated gates feature on the site, check that the photocells are not obstructed by debris / leaves and plants (similarly on a sliding gate, check that the runback is not constricted by build-up of leaves); check the foundations of the gate and gate posts are still secure; look for signs of wear and tear on the hinges and ram pivots; check control box is securely fixed and locked; check any audible warning / flashing light / general warning signs are still fitted and visible; check manual release and location of manual release keys. Book the routine maintenance visit if it is overdue
  • Check windows and access points for any damage/vandalism
  • Carry out visual inspections of all equipment such as machinery in DT/workshops, science labs, kitchens, sports equipment and lifts. If statutory examinations have lapsed during lockdown, take equipment out of service until these can be completed
  • Carry out visual checks of the condition of known asbestos containing materials

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February 2021

We’re thrilled to have our article on Fire Protection featured in School Building magazine. The article refers to the complexities associated with a school achieving compliance following a fire risk assessment – and how Clear Safety can help.

Read the full article here...
Note: this link will take you to the School Building online magazine in a new tab


FIRE PROTECTION – NAVIGATING A CLEAR PATH TO COMPLIANCE

February 2021

According to research by Zurich Municipal, two-thirds of schools in England are not adequately prepared for a fire and there is little consistency in the approach to fire risk management amongst schools. With more than 1,000 fires in school premises every year costing an average of £2.8 million for more significant incidents, not to mention major disruption to the educational continuity of children, clearly fire protection will feature highly on schools’ health and safety agenda.

But while schools will undoubtedly be aware of the need to address fire protection, the fact that so many fires are still happening poses the question; are mistakes being made? Are risk assessments and their actions fully understood by site managers? And if so, what are the common misunderstandings?

Essential actions

Simply going through the motions of completing a fire risk assessment does not ensure a school is compliant. Key staff need to familiarize themselves with the findings and make a simple, prioritised plan to address the recommendations. Any competent fire risk assessment will include a rating of the risk level and actions will be a assigned a priority level. However, there are often lots of practical complexities (such as budgetary logistical considerations) as to why a school cannot simply address the actions in order of ‘high’, ‘medium’ and ‘low’ priority ratings. This leaves schools with a dilemma; How do they become compliant within the budget that is actually available? Are they doing enough? Or are they being too risk averse? A sensible balance needs to be struck and this is where an understanding of a ‘reasonable and proportionate’ response is essential. For example, an assessor will often state ‘recommend doors are inspected and, where not compliant, replaced’. Or another favourite is ‘check and replace all intumescent strips on fire doors’. While this is informed and appropriate advice it must also be considered that many schools have hundreds of doors and at a cost of nearly £2-3k each, it is not reasonable to expect every single one to be ‘perfect’. Similarly, ‘compartmentation and fire stopping’ and following through on recommendations to investigate these areas of the building for fire-rated materials can involve expensive investigations carried out by a building surveyor in order to identify if areas are sufficiently compartmentalised. But is this a reasonable expectation?

The risk assessment may be overwhelming, identifying a plethora of issues that require improvement and which will all contribute to enhanced fire protection, but in reality how can a school site achieve 100% ‘compliance’ within the budget that is available? The legislation governing health and safety compliance allows for ‘reasonability’. But how can a school interpret what is reasonable in order to make the right decisions and spend money in the right areas to the greatest effect, without the potential of being exposed to unacceptable risk or even prosecution?

Completed works may not equal compliance

Even when improvement works are undertaken, how can a school be confident that they are to the correct specification, without running up further costs to fund another independent risk assessment? School staff may not necessarily be fully conversant with what a robust evidential trail looks like for the completion of these works and so will not know what to ask for.

A risk assessment will provide a comprehensive overview of the site but some of the recommendations will require specialist knowledge to interpret the level of action required. Equally, not all findings can be logistically actioned, so what should the school do to demonstrate a commitment to compliance? Are there any additional control measures that the school should be introducing to mitigate the risk for instance?

Engaging contractors

When addressing the need to undertake any essential remedial works, the school needs to understand the full financial ramifications. But how does the school know what constitutes a fair and reasonable estimate?

In situations where a school provides a contractor with the fire risk assessment and asks for an estimate of the works required, a lot of trust is placed in the contractor. Are they actually helping to identify the essential works whilst also looking after the school budget, as opposed to putting their own interests first? Do they have the necessary knowledge to complete the works that will help with site compliance?

Similarly, without the requisite specialist knowledge, how can a school advise the contractor on what needs to be done and what does not need to be done? And, if after engaging a contractor to undertake specific actions, an inspector deems the school to still be non-compliant, what happens then?

Navigating the school through an improvement programme in response to a fire risk assessment is complex, time-consuming and fraught with the potential for error and poor decisions around spending budgets. Engaging a specialist company that is 100% impartial and independent – i.e., not incentivised by the amount of expenditure on remedial works and always has the school’s best interests at heart - is the solution. Clear Safety can manage the entire programme for a school, from undertaking the fire risk assessment, through to advice on the works required, collating evidence of all completed work before payments are made and achieving compliance. Alternatively, we can work with an existing risk assessment, engaging with contractors and interpreting the findings on behalf of the school. Clear Safety has the requisite knowledge and extensive experience to help your school achieve compliance, whilst minimising cost!

By Stuart Letley, Director, Chartered Safety & Health Practitioner, Clear Safety


CLEAR PATH TO ISO CERTIFICATION SUCCESS

November 2020:

Clear Safety (Clear), the safety and compliance management consultancy, is celebrating ISO certification in three separate categories:

  • Quality Management and Control
  • Environmental Management
  • Health and Safety Management.

The company, which has an established track record in providing safety and compliance support in the education and housing association sectors, was awarded the certification following a full UKAS approved audit, with three assessors from ISOQAR auditing Clear over three days this year. Clear sailed through the process, resulting in the highly regarded recognition of compliance to the following standards:

  • ISO 9001
  • ISO 14001
  • ISO 45001.

In addition to the ISO endorsement, the team at Clear boasts a number of further relevant industry safety accreditations including:

  • NICEIC (National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting)
    • electrician
    • renewable energy installers
    • plumbers and gas
    • heating engineer safety awareness
  • CHAS (The Contractors’ Health and Safety Assessment Scheme) - Premier status
  • Gas Safe - gas safety awareness
  • Gate Safe - automated gate safety awareness.

Commenting on the recent ISO approval, managing director Stuart Letley said,

“It is imperative that as a business, Clear can evidence the highest level of competency and understanding of the sectors in which it delivers specialist safety / compliance counsel. We spend much of our time reviewing the safety protocol of our clients across various aspects of their business, in addition to ensuring that any personnel contracted to work on site are able to demonstrate the requisite skills and expertise to deliver best-in-class results. It is therefore wholly appropriate to apply the same exacting criteria and standards to our own business. We are delighted to have achieved this certification and remain dedicated to continually seeking to improve and evolve our own business operations.”

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