Whilst part of my busy life is spent developing online training courses and the associated infrastructure, I also spend a lot of time conducting audits to ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 together with ISO 9001 as part of integrated management systems. I’m sure many readers are busy themselves, but this month has been slightly busier that I would have liked.

Week 1

I travelled to Gatwick and flew to Switzerland to conduct a 4 day audit at the office of an international design and build company which plans huge powder handling and transmission equipment. The audit is interesting as you see all the work involved in creating tenders, submission and winning contracts. Designing equipment is a very detailed process involving many stages all of which are described in flow diagrams. Staff appeared very competent and only a few observations were raised. The work was intense, not taking, understanding how things are done and then assessing whether a nonconformity exists. The audit required an understanding of their business process and how the standards can be translated into their procedures and process flow diagrams. The incompetent auditor may ask irrelevant questions or not fully comprehend what is important to the staff. Also, taking attitude with auditees or complaining about the quality of the coffee. Anything at all that could be badly interpreted could mean the end of co-operation by the auditee and you wouldn’t be invited back, that’s for certain.

A busy weekend

Gardening and painting the bathroom. No time for me to get organised for the next audit. Up early Monday morning and drive 70 miles to open an audit at a large plastic moulding factory. For the next 3 days, a full audit programme was followed plus a commute of 140 miles each day. Five findings and with that there was good participation which meant that the audit was a success. However, writing up all the paperwork takes its toll. Up very early Thursday and up north on the 8.00am train for another audit at an engineering factory near Durham. The audit went well and afterwards stayed in a nice hotel in Durham city. Catch up with paperwork and a walk to the cathedral followed. The audit ended on Friday with a couple of findings – nothing of concern though.

Week 2

Two day audit in East Yorkshire. I have been to the site many times so it is important to be enthusiastic and really drill into the detail of the management system. It turns out that the site is lagging with training programmes for their operators so a finding arose there. Planning their next audit as they are revising their system to ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015. Dates are set and sent to the office before heading home. The following day at lunchtime, I’m dropped off at Doncaster station and heading off via Heathrow to the South of France. So after a busy day auditing, I’m here in my hotel room in Aix-en-Provence writing this blog.

So, the life of an auditor can be extremely busy and travel is a major issue for some. I work as an associate, so I can choose when I work and when I don’t. However most of the time I help my certification body to meet the needs of its clients and rarely turn down audits when requests are made. I’ve served my time, gathered around 20 years of experience and can now work hard, but with very pleasant periods of calm in between. That’s when I write and develop my course material. If I was a full-timer, I wouldn’t have that opportunity to pass on my first-hand 20 year experience of auditing. I’m working on a lead auditor course (ISO 14001:2015) as well as creating a variant for a client in Iceland based on ISO 19011. Looking forward to delivering a 3 day course there in January 2017. See you later and maybe you can attend one of our online courses (ISO 14001:2015 Internal Auditor or OHSAS 18001:2007 Internal Auditor). We are having a record year, so if you have any questions, send a message to info@auditmentor.com and Gary will help you all he can.

Until the next time,

Best Regards,

John Marsden 21st  October 2016