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Ulster Supported Employment Limited (Usel) Case Study

26 June 2023
Meet Usel. Largest provider of disability employment support in Northern Ireland. Operator of five social enterprise businesses. Proud holder of three NQA certifications.

Since 1962, Ulster Supported Employment Limited (Usel) has paved the way for adults with disabilities and health conditions to enjoy greater independence.

The social enterprise is now the leading provider of disability employment support in Northern Ireland, with 150 employees across 3 locations.

Usel transforms over 1200 lives each year through its employment support programmes and five social enterprises spanning:

  • Manufacturing

  • Recycling

  • Hospitality

With so much happening at once comes the need for streamlined operations backed by NQA.

Expanding horizons with a new ISO standard

When Usel first approached NQA, it already had ISO 9001 (Quality) and ISO 14001 (Environment) with another certification body.

The next step was to transfer its certifications and achieve ISO 45001 (Health & Safety).

By doing so, Usel would have the opportunity to:

  • Establish a globally recognised framework to maximise stakeholder safety

  • Succeed in its goal of expanding operations throughout the recycling business

  • Have ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 as an integrated management solution

Usel took the leap, transferring and achieving new ISO certifications through NQA.

Why did Usel choose NQA?

According to the Sales & Marketing Manager at Usel, Laura Warrington:

“NQA has a good reputation and an experienced auditing team. By integrating our standards, we can eliminate duplicated processes and reduce the days required for external auditing.”

From preparation to audit day

In the lead-up to achieving ISO 45001 and integrating its systems through NQA, Usel provided external training to its internal audit team.

The internal audit team then conducted regular internal audits, assessing processes and identifying opportunities for improvement.

Each of these activities meant that by the time the audit day rolled around, Usel was prepared.

The NQA assessor was Paul Hanna, who Usel praised for his communication skills and standard-specific knowledge.

Usel’s Business Improvement Manager, Maura McCabe, managed the entire audit process.

Greater visibility, improved efficiency and more

Achieving ISO 45001 and integrating it with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 has allowed Usel to:

  • Streamline the internal auditing process

  • Reduce the number of external audit days

  • Access new opportunities with public-sector organisations and councils that require suppliers to be ISO-certified

  • Assess and refine internal processes, leading to improved efficiency and performance

Usel may also strive for ISO 27001 (Information Security) in the future, alongside certification to cover its hospitality and catering operations.

With 3 ISO certifications under a single integrated system… what's next for Usel?

Final thoughts from NQA

Usel is an incredibly impressive client, maintaining three management systems while delivering life-changing services to disabled adults in Northern Ireland.

To discover more about integrated management systems, click here or get in touch today.

Download a PDF version of Usel's case study here.