Embrace Technology to Get the Most Out of Remote Audits and Management Systems
Technology has been an audit enabler for businesses to effectively manage risk and remain compliant with ISO management system standards.
- By Bill Barnes
- Jan 25, 2021
While COVID-19 brought disruptions to on-site certification audits around the world, remote audit capabilities have ensured that many businesses are able to continue with their compliance schedules despite challenging circumstances. Remote auditing services allow technical experts to review documentation and conduct interviews and site tours using technology while maintaining the high standards of onsite audits and offering flexibility for businesses.
In March 2020, the pandemic halted plans to travel to Johnstown, Pennsylvania to conduct a ten-day, on-site renewal visit at North American Hoganas (NA Hoganas) for the company’s certified ISO 14001 standard and OHSAS 18001 transition to ISO 45001. NA Hoganas is the world leader on the market for iron and metal powders with a yearly capacity of 500,000 tons. The organization was founded in 1797 and develops solutions for automotive components, brazing, electrical motors, additive manufacturing and water treatment.
As travel concerns spread around the country, emergency orders issued by Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Wolf, confirmed that all non-essential work activities must cease. A subsequent risk assessment led by Dave Johnson, EHS Manager at NA Hoganas, confirmed that while the company’s operations were deemed essential, an assessment visit was not.
In response, NA Hoganas agreed to conduct a partial remote assessment to confirm the effectiveness of the company’s integrated management system by reviewing core management elements online. This enabled the extension of the May certificate expiration date to November 2020, in accordance with IAF MD4, ISO 17021 and IAF MD3 requirements.
Through bi-weekly team training web meetings since the start of stay-at-home orders, the team of managers and assessors collaborated on developing and sharing best practices and tackling challenges in the remote “field” so that audits could be adapted to the conditions, retain quality and independence and get back on track. Some of the insights shared included: