COVID, Furlough and ISO9001 Surveillance Audit

TPMB4

Quite Involved in Discussions
#1
Our Surveillance Audit was supposed to be in April this year in order to ensure no issues for the certification. We rarely get more than OFIs or OFI plus one minor NC. These are usually simply a case of digging out some document in archives for the auditor or some minor improvement which is often completed before the auditor gets home.

This year the issue is COVID lockdown and furlough of the majority of employees. Certification runs from middle of July and this is surveillance number 1 following recertification last year. We were on furlough until the end of July with only about 6 people from the shopfloor working during that period. I came back as and when needed shortly after it was allowed to have part time working while on furlough. August I came back halfway through the month and have not been able to focus on the QMS and quality aspects of my job (SME means many hats and roles). It's been all hands on deck with even directors/owners working on the shopfloor to recover the situation. It really hit our company hard and we lost a lot of work because of the lockdown.

The situation is auditors told us we needed to complete the audit and any NCs by the end of September or risk losing certification and need a stage II audit to return to certification status. Is this true? Is there not some mechanism to delay the loss of certification due to these exceptional circumstances? What are the COVID ISO9001 auditing rules?

The other thing is we are recovering the business and facing so many issues that some of the elements of our QMS such as internal auditing of all elements within the year has not been maintained. I have tried to recover this but with the audit tomorrow I am not near completing this recovery. We are going to have to live with whatever happens but I am curious to know the implications and hope someone will know these. Our certification has been running since 2004 and the first year of operation of our company. I do not want to be the main person responsible for the QMS maintenance on a day to day basis (directors have ultimate responsibility though) when we lose it.

If you can advise I would appreciate any information you can give. If you need further information to help just ask.

One thing to note, the audit plan does not actually mention internal auditing. So the area I worry about most because nobody was around to carry out the internal auditing might not be an issue tomorrow. BTW everyone who is back (a few are not yet) is following our procedures from what I could determine and there has been no quality issues while I was on furlough. This indicates to me that our QMS is being adhered to without me checking up on people and playing Kwality Kops role (our directors still believe that is needed). All our customers are from repeat work for many years and many platforms / systems in the automotive sector. We even get work when our competitors have let down our customers but it rarely happens the other way so we are basically a low PPM company that meets customer requirements well. I am not sure we will have an issue in the audit but forewarned is forearmed they say hence my query here.

Thanks for your help
 
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TPMB4

Quite Involved in Discussions
#2
Just spotted something on another thread. It seems there is a 3 month from date of surveillance audit certificate extension or it is not suspended at least. Then suspension before another period then a withdrawal. Our 3 months would be middle of October, the auditors are saying end of September to allow a couple of weeks to recover if there is any NC. Is this correct?

Our issue was maintaining the system when key personnel were not present. Our audit schedule was not followed because it was not possible when furloughed. Even our auditors were furloughed and struggled to commit to an audit date. I had been in discussions about an audit date in late June / early July despite me not being present due to furlough. The auditor was furloughed before it was possible. In fact a couple of auditors got furloughed just as they were trying to set a date. A bit of a mess really but that's the COVID situation for you.
 

Randy

Super Moderator
#3
Look, ANAB at least has allowed for 6 month extensions of expiring certificates due to Covid problems..........Open a CAR on your internal audit and everything else and then start correcting your schedules and filling in the potholes that happened. I just did an audit (3rd party CB) where the client had similar problems and they're fixing them. You can't do it overnight and it's stupid to expect you to.

Use your system to correct the problem.
 
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