Covid-19 and your ISO Audits – Where does that leave your organization?

Covid-19 and your ISO Audits – Where does that leave your organization?

Covid-19 and your ISO Audits – Where does that leave your organization?

We are living in an unprecedented time. Covid-19 is here, and it has caused untold damage to life. The imposition of mandatory lockdowns has left most in a catch 22 situation withtheir jobs. Do you go out and risk getting infected, or would you rather stay indoors and possibly lose your source of income?

Organizations, too, have borne the brunt of this new reality. Manufacturing companies have to decide whether to fully automate and remove the human factor in production, or risk delaying vital produce.

Then there is the matter of your upcoming ISO certification review. In light of everything, a certification review might seem like a trivial matter, but it has to be considered. It is clear that a certification review requires an on-sight visit; a visit that is no longer allowed because of the stringent social distancing rules. So, where does that leave your organization? Let’s discuss.

The International Accreditation Forum (IAF) to the rescue

The IAF, in its wisdom, saw it fit to come up with Informative Documents (ID) that specifically deal with situations just like this one. The IAF ID 3 document details how certified entities and certification bodies should deal with extraordinary events such as:

  • Wars
  • Terrorism
  • Geopolitical tensions
  • Crimes
  • Strikes
  • Pandemics
  • Flooding
  • Earthquake
  • Malicious computer hacking

Also, accreditation bodies, being the entity that provides oversight for certification bodies activities, have the mandate to make changes a to certification body audit approach when confronted with new conditions like covid -19. Here’s how they can help:

Audit time adjustments (On-site)

IAF Mandatory Document (MD) 4 has guidelines on techniques that can be used for remote auditing. During the standard audit process, remote audit time cannot exceed 30% of the total certification audit review time. Remote time is usually reserved for planning and wrapping up. However, in circumstances where on-site audit time would pose a risk to the persons involved, communication will need to be relayed quickly to accreditation bodies, certification bodies and certified entities to chart the way forward.

The accreditation body will likely approve additional remote auditing time. What is essential, however, is that all parties are on the same page before any official audit activities start.

Audit certification timelines for certified entities

Certified entities as per the processes are required to undergo an audit review in the form of surveillance review and recertification audit to maintain their status. It may be challenging under these circumstances. IAF ID 3 provides organizations with little wiggle room in terms of audit time’s adjustments with a wait-and-see approach.

Surveillance review– Usually required 12 months after completion of stage 2, but an extension of an additional six months can be sought in the event of extenuating circumstances.

Recertification review– In extenuating circumstances, you can request recertification audit up to 6 months after the certificate expires, pending approval from accreditation bodies.

Way forward

Five years may lapse before things go back to normal, who knows, they may just not. For now, we must do what we can, wear your mask, keep social distance and sanitize.

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