Use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Certification Auditing/Assessment Purposes


IAF MD4 Issue 2
On 4 July 2018, the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) published a revised version of their Mandatory Document, MD 4:2018 on the Use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Auditing/Assessment Purposes.

The scope of this document is for the auditing/assessment of management systems, persons and product & is applicable to conformity assessment bodies (Certification Bodies) and National Accreditation Bodies.

The use of ICT is not mandatory and may be used for other types of conformity assessment activities, but if used as part of the audit/assessment methodology, it is mandatory to conform to this document.

This revision keeps pace with the development in the use of remote auditing tools, which can be used for the delivery of a cost-effective and efficient auditing and certification service. It is a tool that I have used extensively for clients that already have a mature management system and have the infrastructure for enabling remote audits. These remote audits can save time and the cost of expensive international flights for audits from the United Kingdom to India or China.

The revised version introduces some significant changes in that it, now, applies to the assessment activities of the National Accreditation Bodies as well as audit activities of Certification Bodies (CBs).

The Mandatory Document provides for a risk based approach to the use of ICT and is intended to achieve consistent application in auditing/assessment, using information and communication technology as part of the methodology. The document states that “The use of ICT is not mandatory, but if used as part of the audit/assessment methodology, it is mandatory to conform to this document”.

It should be noted, in the accompanying UKAS Technical Bulletin (29 June 2018), that the Mandatory Document has immediate implementation based on its Application Date (4 July 2018), meaning that Certification Bodies must be following this for all cases where ICT is used as part of the certification activity.

Therefore, at each accredited CB’s next scheduled Head-Office Assessment, the Assessment Team will review plans for implementation into the CB’s systems and procedures.

A copy of the revised IAF MD4:2018 can be freely downloaded here with a copy of the previous IAF MD4:2008 available here together with a copy of the UKAS Technical Bulletin here


ACTION POINTS

  1. If you are an accredited Certification Body or hold accredited certification, you should obtain a copy of the IAF MD4:2018.
  2. Review the IAF MD4:2018 for the changes between the revised 2018 version and that from the 2008 version & the impact on your organisation.
  3. Consider how the Mandatory Document affects your delivery of certification auditing or, as an organisation holding accredited certification, whether you would benefit from a remote audit.

 

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Beat Plastic Pollution: One Month on


Beat Plastic PollutionThis article looks at my personal progress made over the past month since World Environment Day 2018, which had the theme of “Beat Plastic Pollution”.

Since my public postings of video and written articles, I have maintained my pledge to:

  1. Reduce the plastic content of my shopping
    By shopping at local shops offering wicker baskets to carry my shopping and paper bags to take the shopping home
  2. Reduce disposable water bottle waste
    I have brought a re-usable water bottle for my journeys away from the home but have found it difficult to find refill stations.
  3. Reduce the use of disposable take-away cups
    During the past month, I have not used the take-away option at any Coffee Shop & instead have preferred to relax and enjoy my drink.

After reading this article, please catch-up on my nine-part series of videos on my YouTube Channel, which can be accessed here covering my “love/hate” addiction to the use of plastic in my personal and business life together with suggestions on how you can go “Plastic-less”.

My nine video series covered the following topics:

Plastic-less Video 1: A Personal Confession & Exploration

Plastic-less Video 2: A Tale of Two Shopping Bags

Plastic-less Video 3: Waste Weighing and Audit

Plastic-less Video 4: A Hot Chocolate Moment

Plastic-less Video 5: The Office

Plastic-less Video 6: National Fish and Chip Day 2018

Plastic-less Video 7: A Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Plastic-less Video 8: A Night at a Hotel

Plastic-less Video 9: A Celebration

Don’t forget to comment on how your plastic-less pledge is going & leave any feedback on this article.


ACTION POINTS:

  1. Take the time to watch each of the videos in my series on going Plastic-less
  2. Make notes on the issues raised and the suggestions at the end of each video on how to go Plastic-less
  3. Take the pledge to go Plastic-less and share your progress.
Posted in Environmental, United Nations, Waste, Water Pollution | Leave a comment

Important Further Information for Certification Bodies regarding transition to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001



With the well-publicised 3-year long-transition period to move to ISO 14001:2015 & ISO 9001:2015 certification comes further news that the deadline of 15 September 2018 may not be a “hard deadline” after all as announced by the IAF in previous communications (see ISO 9001:2015 & ISO 14001:2015 Transition Deadline Approaching – only two months ago, One year to ISO 9001 and 14001 transition deadline, ISO/IEC 17021-1:2015 Transition ArrangementsFinal IAF Guidance on the transition to ISO 14001:2015)

It appears that discussions at the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) Technical Committee has led to the IAF has published a further statement regarding the process to be followed by certified organisations for whom the audit process has been started but will not be completed by the deadline.

It has long been recognised from earlier articles (see Has ISO 14001:2015 stalled?) that the take-up of the revised ISO 14001:2015 (and ISO 9001:2015) has not been successful with only 6.7% of organisations have updated their ISO 14001 certification to the 2015 edition & 7.3% to ISO 9001:2015 by 31 December 2016 according to an ISO Survey.

A further ISO Survey expected to be published later in July 2018 will un-cover more about the state of the transition process.

In the meantime, organisations holding accredited ISO 14001:2004 and ISO 9001:2008 certification have a further lifeline to make their transition by 15 March 2019 provided that they have had an transitional audit prior to 15 September 2018.

The full text of the IAF statement, as published in a Technical Bulletin by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) reads: –

“It was confirmed that on 15 September 2018 all ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004 certificates will expire and will no longer be valid.

When transition activities are successfully completed prior to 15 September 2018, the expiry date of the new certification can be based on the expiry date of the existing certification. The issue date on a new certificate shall be on or after the certification decision.

If the certification body has not completed the transition audit or the certification body is unable to verify the implementation of corrections and corrective actions for any major nonconformity prior to 15 September 2018, then certification to the new versions shall not be recommended. The client shall be informed and the consequences shall be explained i.e. their certification has expired and is no longer valid.

Following 15 September 2018, the certification body can issue certification to the new versions within 6 months (15 March 2019) provided that the audit process has been initiated by 15 September 2018 and the outstanding transition activities are completed (by 15 March 2019). The effective date on the certificate shall be on or after the certification decision and the expiry date shall be based on prior certification cycle.

If the transition audit process has not been initiated by 15 September 2018 and/or not completed by 15 March 2019 an initial audit shall be conducted. The effective date on the certificate shall be the date of the certification decision.”

It should be noted that “provided that the audit process has been initiated” means that auditing has already taken place in accordance with the agreed process for that client i.e. at least the document review and/or head office audit (depending on their documented transition plan/process) needs to have been started prior to 15 September 2018 for the 6 months rule above to apply. It is not enough for the contract review to have been completed or the visit booked, audit activity must have started. Therefore, where client certificates include historic dates they will need show a gap in certification.

A copy of the UKAS Technical Bulletin – Important Further Information for Certification Bodies regarding transition to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 (22 June 2018) can be freely downloaded here


ACTION POINTS

  1. If your organisation has yet to make the transition to ISO 14001:2015 and/or ISO 9001:2015 then you should obtain a copy of the UKAS Technical Bulletin – Important Further Information for Certification Bodies regarding transition to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 (22 June 2018)
  2. Discuss the opportunities for a transition audit to ISO 14001:2015 and ISO 9001:2015 before the transition deadline of 15 September 2018.
  3. Work towards meeting any outstanding transition activities by 15 March 2019.

 

Posted in Accreditation, Certification, Environmental, ISO 14001, ISO 9001, ISO/IEC 17021-1 | Leave a comment

Butterflies in the wider UK Countryside: 1976 to 2017


UK Butterfly Surveys 1976 - 2017The UK Government has published indicators on butterflies in the United Kingdom, which are intended to contribute to a suite of indicators due to be updated later this year (the UK Biodiversity Indicators).

In the meantime, the specific indicators on butterflies from earlier data has been published ahead of the overall UK Biodiversity Indicators.

The current publication uses two measures of annual butterfly population abundance are presented within the documents:

  1. The first for specialist butterflies (species strongly associated with semi-natural habitats such as unimproved grassland), and;
  2. The second for butterflies found in both semi-natural habitats and the wider countryside.

The measures are multi-species indices compiled by Butterfly Conservation (BC), the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) from data collated through the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UK BMS) and the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey (WCBS).

The indicators use data from butterfly transect sites on farmland and in woodland from the UK BMS and additionally randomly selected farmland plots from the WCBS.

The four headline points from the report are:

  1. Since 1976, the habitat specialists butterflies index has fallen by 77%.
  2. Over the same period, the index for species of the wider countryside has fallen by 46%.
  3. Large fluctuations in numbers between years are a typical feature of butterfly populations, principally in response to weather conditions. 2017 was a relatively bad year for butterflies; the fourth worst in the 42-year series and it was likely due to periods of poor weather during the spring and summer months.
  4. The statistical assessment of change is made on an analysis of the underlying smoothed trends. Since 1976, populations of habitat specialists and species of the wider countryside have declined significantly but both trends show no significant change since 2012.

The four key published documents covering the butterfly survey between 1976 to 2017 can can be downloaded from the following web-links:

Butterflies in the wider countryside: United Kingdom, 1976 to 2017

Trends in UK Butterflies 1976 to 2017

Summary of UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme data capture, processing, validation and reporting

Technical annex – Assessing change in England, Scotland and UK Butterfly Indicators

Further details of the methods used to compile the indicators and assess change can be found on the UK BMS website. More information about this indicator is available on the JNCC website.


ACTION POINTS:

  1. If you are looking to develop metrics for biodiversity or, generally, want to encourage biodiversity then you should download the updated indicators from 1976 to 2017.
  2. Consider the development of biodiversity metrics or programmes to encourage biodiversity using the update indicators.
  3. Review any further publication of biodiversity indicators related to butterflies expected to be published by the UK Government in the Summer 2019.
Posted in Business Benefits, Compliance, Construction, Ecology, Environmental, Government, Land Management | Leave a comment

New IAF Mandatory Document on CB control on Entities


IAF MD23:2018 - Control of Entities Operating on Behalf of Accredited Management Systems Certification Bodies

A new IAF Mandatory Document describes additional controls for Certification Bodies to apply in relation to Entities, which support their Certification processes.

The International Accreditation Forum (IAF), which is the global network of accreditation bodies and other organisations involved in conformity assessment activities., has published a new Mandatory Document applicable to Management System Standards (MSS) certification ,such as ISO 14001:2015 and ISO 9001:2015.

The document relates to entities, performing and/or managing management system certification activities, on behalf of Certification Bodies (CBs) holding accreditation, which are not wholly or partly owned or employed by the CB.

The entities may or may not be located in the same country as the CB head office and may be a representative, agency, franchisee or sales office of the CB or any entity which has a contractual relationship with the CB for performing certification activities.

It applies the following obligations for Certification Bodies to follow:

  1. Risk Assessment of Candidate Entities
  2. Establishment of the Legally Enforceable Agreement
  3. Compliance of Entities’ Operations with the Applicable Requirements and the CB Management System and Governance Documents

Additionally, Accreditation Bodies (ABs) have the following obligations:

  1. AB Monitoring of Entities
  2. AB Assessment of Entities’ Operations

Two Informative Annexes are provided to describe the elements That Can Be Checked During the Risk Assessment & a Toolset for Special Investigative Assessment of Entities’ Operations.

The Application Date for this Mandatory Document is 8 May 2019, when the National Accreditation Body (NAB) will expect the obligations of this Mandatory Document to have been embedded within the Certification Body and its Management System.

A copy of the IAF Mandatory Document 23:2018 can be downloaded here


ACTION POINTS:

  1. If you manage or operate a Certification Body issuing Management System Standards certificates or are an organisation supporting a Certification Body then you may be obligated under IAF MD 23:2018.
  2. An obligated Certification Body will need to apply their obligations, internally and externally to any organisation that support their certification body processes.
  3. The obligations arising from IAF MD 23:2018 will need to be implemented within the Certification Body by 8 May 2019.

 

Posted in Accreditation, Auditing, Business Benefits, Certification, ISO 14001, ISO 9001, ISO/IEC 17021-1 | Leave a comment

UK Greenhouse Gas Reporting: Conversion Factors 2018


UK Greenhouse gas reporting: conversion factors 2018

The United Kingdom Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published its Greenhouse Conversion Factors 2018, which are set at Version 01.00.

These emission conversion factors can be used to report on 2018 Greenhouse Gas emissions by UK-based organisations of all sizes, and for international organisations reporting on UK operations.

The Department provides three sets of conversion factors, namely:

Condensed set:
This data set is the most popular version. It provides an abridged version of the full set of factors, designed to reduce the volume of information users have to navigate through to find the factors they want. It is recommended for most, and new, users of conversion factors. Download here

Full set:
This data set of factors contains all of the available factors for the selected year, and is recommended for advanced users only due to the volume of information presented. Download here

Flat file set:
This data set contains the same information as the full set, but arranged for automated processes – available from 2014 onwards. It is not recommended for most users.
A methodology paper explaining how the conversion factors are derived will be published later in July 2018 to support this data set. Download here

 

The following advice is given for New or Previous Users:

New Users:
It is advised that new users of the conversion factors should download the condensed set of conversion factors from the latest available year (2018). Please read the guidance in the document’s introductory sheet then follow the informative text at the top of each conversion factor tab in the output files.

Previous Users:
For repeat users of the conversion factors, please download your preferred factor set and read the ‘what’s new’ sheet before using the conversion factors. This sheet highlights the most significant changes to the conversion factors made in this update. Following the ‘what’s new’ guidance will ensure that reporting is consistent and comparable year-on-year.

 

Expiry:
Please note that all the data sets for 2018 are timed to expire on 31 July 2019, when a new data set for that year (2019) will be published.



ACTION POINTS:

  1. Review whether your business has a compliance obligation or wishes to voluntarily report on its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in the year 2018.
  2. Download the relevant data set; Condensed Set recommended for New Users or the Full Set for Advanced or Repeat Users.
  3. Apply the relevant GHG Conversion Factors in relation to your reporting using the 2018 Data Set until 31 July 2019 at the latest
Posted in Carbon Management, Compliance, Environmental, Greenhouse Gas | Leave a comment

Environmental Legislation (England) Survey



Environmnetal Legislation (England) Survey
Whether in my role as an environmental consultant, manager or auditor, it is a moral and legal requirement to maintain up-to-date knowledge of the relevant environmental legislation and other requirements for my clients.

I have, often, come across environmental legislation, which is not relevant or has been revoked.

This got me thinking that, maybe, there is a misunderstanding on the relevant and current environmental legislation.

So, I am looking to understand the recognition of the appropriate environmental legislation in England by Environmental Managers, Environmental Auditors & other Environmental Professionals through a survey.

The survey has three questions relating to waste legislation, which is a common legal requirement for most organisations.

The overall time for completion of the survey estimated to take no longer than 1 – 2 minutes.

It is anticipated that the responses should be based on the instinctive understanding of the person completing the survey.

This survey is completely anonymous with no personal information gathered or processed & is compliant with the requirements of GDPR & the Data Protection Act 2018.

The results of this survey will be published at the same location, where you originally accessed this survey (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etc.).

The survey can be accessed here.

Thank you, in advance, for completing this survey.

Andrew

Posted in Business Benefits, Compliance, Environmental, Environmental Management, Waste | 2 Comments