IAF Conformity Assessment Bodies Advisory Committee Chair
IIOC Chief Executive
Lockdowns and travel restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have necessitated more frequent use of remote auditing techniques. Certification Bodies (CBs) were well-prepared, as many had already established remote auditing protocols prior to the current crisis across a variety of standards and schemes in various industries, from manufacturing and services, to food production and aerospace.
Previously, these techniques were only used in rare cases such as when sites were inaccessible or in remote locations. However, having these protocols in place enabled CBs to quickly pivot and conduct the majority of on-site audits remotely.
The delivery of robust certification by CBs requires the support of a range of independent and inter-dependent organisations. With the pandemic bringing so much uncertainty, the value of and reliance in the assurance of conformity assessment such as accredited certification has been heightened.
This places great responsibility on all aspects of the quality infrastructure network to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the system, providers and customers, and to ensure that the integrity of the assurance work is maintained.
Through the use of remote techniques, these objectives can be achieved. Accreditation plays a vital role in ensuring that certification is delivered consistently and robustly. To support this work, IAF has produced a range of communications to demonstrate its commitment to the maintenance of its activities and those of its Accreditation Body Members.
- IAF statement on COVID-19, in particular highlighting pre-existing documents such as:
- IAF ID 3:2011 Informative Document for Management of Extraordinary Events or Circumstances Affecting ABs, CABs and Certified Organizations
- IAF COVID-19 related FAQs – whilst exceptional circumstances and the use of remote auditing and assessment have been used before, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided challenges never experienced before. This raised new questions that IAF has addressed through their FAQs resourced by a dedicated Task Force. This allowed anyone to raise questions on existing IAF policies and procedures that needed clarification or modification in light of the ever-changing environment.
Support for the accredited certification system also comes from the range of ISO CASCO standards in the ‘CASCO toolkit’. CASCO published a statement on COVID-19, with further details on CASCO activities and the conformity assessment tools here.
The rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic to serve clients using remote technology has proven highly successful in maintaining trusted and robust certifications and ensuring that organisations continue to meet the requirements of standards.
Beyond remote auditing, many CBs are providing a range of additional services to help navigate organisations through these challenging times. Caution is clearly key, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of staff being paramount, and adhering to guidance provided by all relevant authorities.
CBs, along with their partners, will continue to focus on delivering safe and robust services to all customers. This shift to more remote techniques provides an opportunity to consider and review how accredited certification is delivered in future. Delivering greater value to customers from certification, more effectively and efficiently, is a key goal for CBs to strive for and will be a focus moving forward.
Categories: IAF updates