External Audit and Certificate prorogation due to the pandemic

rogerpenna

Involved In Discussions
#1
Sorry if this is the wrong section of the forum.

My company has an ISO 9001:2015 certificate. Auditing organization was BVQI. Last re-certification was october 2019. Certification cycle started in September 2018, so the Certificate is valid until September 2021, subject to "continuous operation of the QMS. (which I suppose means it's only valid if we do yearly external audits with BVQI, which they call "revisions")

Due to the Covid pandemic, we do not really want an external auditor here. We will have to drive the auditor around, because each day he will have to audit a different work site (we are a civil instrastructure building company), take him to lunch, etc.

I heard the IAF had allowed prorrogation of certificates for 6 months due to the pandemic. Which we understood as meaning we could do the revision around january or february 2021.

But BVQI is pushing to make the revision audit still in 2020, telling us we can have our certificate suspended in the next months, then do the revision audit in November 2020, but since there is no auditor available in the area, they can prorrogate it to have the audit from 21 to 24 December (lol... at Christmas time. Plus we will be on collective summer vacations at that date)

Anyone has any info about certificates prorrogations due to the pandemic, external audits, etc? Any input on the situation?
 
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#2
We are scheduled to have our external audit in September, this year being our re-certification audit, and we are doing it fully remote. Auditor will connect with me via video chat and the day she needs to walk through our warehouse, I will have her do a video chat through my phone so she can see everything that way. She has told me that they are really just going with the flow during the pandemic and we'll take it day by day.
 

outdoorsNW

Quite Involved in Discussions
#3
Earlier this month we completed an every 3 year AS9100 recert audit 100% remotely (online). Since AS9100 includes ISO9001 certification, there is no blanket rule against a 100% remote audit. The problem lies with your CB for not offering a remote audit. (I am assuming using a video call on a phone you can provide the ability to see and talk to people on your worksites.)
 

try2makeit

Quite Involved in Discussions
#4
We just completed our final surveillance audit. On-site. We are a small company (less then 30 employees). We were able to social distance, we wore masks and the auditor was very cautious when approaching operators to ask a few questions. Most audit work was documentation and report writing that he could do by himself in the conference room. First we wanted an extension, but I'm glad that we decided not too and completed this audit cycle. I guess we will see what next year brings for the re-cert audit.
 

jmech

Trusted Information Resource
#5
The IAF has issued guidance that audits may be postponed by 6 months. See link below:
Q10: For schemes under IAF MLA (Management system certification, Product certification, Certification of persons, Validation and Verification), how are conformity assessment activities to be managed in this extraordinary period?

However, the IAF will tend to have the most open and general requirements, and it can get more restrictive at the AB level and again at the CB level. You could pursue a fully remote audit, as suggested above.

Further points on remote audits and ABs/CBs having more restrictive requirements than the IAF:

1. The IAF FAQ allows full remote audits for both surveillance and certification, although it also warns that "that regulatory bodies, scheme owners and purchasers may have specific requirements that may need to be adhered to, and which may take precedence."
Q2: Is it permissible to use remote assessments and audits to maintain the validity of accredited certifications during the COVID-19 crisis?
Q5: Is it possible to perform a full certification audit remotely?

2. ANAB Heads Up 450 supports the use of remote audits. It also cautions that CBs must still meet the applicable requirements and will be evaluated at their future assessments. It recommends caution in accepting transfers and scope exceptions (without prohibiting them).
https://anab.qualtraxcloud.com/ShowDocument.aspx?ID=17620

3. It took time for CBs that did not previously have remote auditing practices in place to establish these practices and ensure competence, especially if they were diligent in meeting requirements so that they'd avoid findings when evaluated by their AB. For example, APIQR (ANAB-accredited for ISO 9001 and ISO 14001) only started offering ISO 9001 remote audits in June. APIQR is not allowing remote audits for new certifications or for location changes.
https://www.api.org/~/media/Files/C...emote Audits_Client Notification 06012020.pdf
https://www.api.org/~/media/Files/C...te audits due to location change 20200721.pdf
API Monogram & APIQR: Advisories & Updates
 

rogerpenna

Involved In Discussions
#6
The problem is that we also certificate PBQP-H, a brazilian construction certification that follows ISO closely but adds some stuff specific to civil construction.

PBQP H also had a 6 months extension of the recertification.
PBQP-H will need us to audit the construction sites.

We do roads and civil infrastructure. It's pretty common for an audit site to be in a remote location with VERY POOR internet connection, making a video conference impossible.
 

jmech

Trusted Information Resource
#8
It's pretty common for an audit site to be in a remote location with VERY POOR internet connection, making a video conference impossible.
In that case, you need to convince your CB to grant you the 6 month extension that IAF FAQ #10 (referenced above) states is allowable.

If that doesn't work, you're stuck doing the audit in person while using PPE and distancing to minimize the COVID risk. You may still be able to do part of it remotely and only do the construction site parts in person - this doesn't eliminate the risk in the way that a fully remote audit would, but should reduce it compared to a fully in person audit.
 

Randy

Super Moderator
#9
Certificate extensions are authorized for 6 months under ANAB and other rules. An annual surveillance can be extended with justification into the next year but your surveillance time would at least double.

One audit I did had some security issues so instead of live walk around security took specific time dated photos for me to view, then again it was a HQ setup and an environmental audit (HQ-multi site) where all regulatory compliance belonged to the building owner and not the client.

There are workarounds, but if your certificate doesn't turn into a pumpkin until 2022 your CB needs to work with you and not with them, there are multiple of variations of mixed remote-onsite and all that...Or ask them about changing CB's.....They'll stop sucking eggs and if not, a couple of us here know of some that would love to help.
 
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