It’s the busiest audit period in my life! Back-to-back audits of some of the worlds biggest companies who provide mainstream household consumer goods and foods were undertaken. This time, working as part of a team of professional auditors gives me yet more inspiration for the work we do.
Some of my colleagues in the audit team are probably the most experienced and professional you will ever find, so Im really pleased to be working with them to complete certification transfer audits related to ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001. The audit in question was undertaken over 5 days (so it was a full and busy week) at two sites (at least for me).
The experience of carrying out these audits enables me to consider a number of scenarios that may be included within the AuditMentor range of OHSAS 18001 courses and ISO 14001 courses. Obviously, confidentiality is paramount, so there is no way I am able to speak about items that identify the client, but the learning process is such that excellent case studies can be developed that mirrors the experience I have gained by conducting these audits.
The certification body I work for exclusively may be known (it’s DNV). They are probably the best collection of auditors that could be assembled – the standard of professional competence and skill in terms of the audit trails they follow is, in my opinion, unequalled. However,the clients whom we audit are probably the biggest blue chip companies you are ever going to meet – so standards have to be high and maintained at that level.
I would say that society now demands the highest standards – any large company falling out of line for failings or errors that they could have controlled results in newspaper headlines, court cases, product recalls, safety litigation and negative ratings. All these have damaging effects on the well-being of a business and the HSEQ management system usually plays a potentially significant impact on the whole process.
The effectiveness of the external audit is paramount, but so is the internal audit. We external certification auditors rely on the effectiveness of the latter. A good internal audit enables issues to be addressed at the internal level – good internal auditors have to be the building block of the whole process. The internal auditors usually have excellent knowledge of the inside workings of the company – that is their strength. Conversely, their skill of the audit process is usually known, but can be extremely variable. Motivation is often lower because they are asked to do audits above and beyond their normal work – this adds to the burden of their workload and this is OFTEN not recognised by senior management.
The need for effective auditor training is clear – how effective that training actually is does not depend on the organisation delivering the content, the cost of the course, but on the skill of the trainer in passing on his or her HARD EARNED experience to the delegate. Nothing else matters. Bear that in mind when you are choosing a suitable auditor course.
So, the blog is drawing to a close. I intend to continue creating these short blogs to give you an insight of the life of a certification auditor. Look out for my thoughts on the developing new ISO 14001:2015 standard as it approaches it’s publication.