The British Standards Institution says construction companies that have failed to sign up to upgraded government business competency standards may lose contracts.
The ISO certificate, a 20-year-old best-practice framework that covers all industries and sets out guidelines for skills requirements and customer service procedures, was revamped in 2000.

However, certification body BSI Management Systems says most construction businesses that held old-standard certificates have not yet upgraded to the ISO 9001: 2000 version.

The body's global marketing manager Charles Pertwee said it was important that certified members of the construction industry take steps quickly.

He said: "Many customers within the construction sector now specify that contractors and suppliers meet the updated standard. They will not award work to companies that are not certified."

The BSI said that construction and engineering companies had been the slowest of all sectors to sign up, despite a three-year campaign by the BSI to explain why they should.

Firms have until December to update their accreditation or face losing contracts

Charles Pertwee, British Standard Institution

Pertwee said construction firms had until December to update accreditation or face the possibility of losing contracts in the future.

Under the scheme, the BSI undertakes a six-monthly audit to ensure a certified company is providing a service up to the required standard.

The updated standard requires companies to introduce a complaints system that records and acts upon comments made by clients. It also aims to make it easier for companies to show that they meet the requirements of the updated standard.