In order to certify an organisation to a particular standard, third-party certification bodies such as WCS must verify that the requirements are met via an audit process. Only after the audit process is successfully completed can an organisation be issued a certificate. Of course once the certificate is awarded the receiving company has to agree to maintain the system in conformance with the standard’s requirements. This is further verified through an ongoing audit process.
To start the process, the first step is completing the Request For Quote Form.
This form provides all the information required about your business so WCS can determine the scope of certification and calculate the audit duration and coverage. WCS will send a certification quote showing the audit duration and costs for three years. Once the quote has been accepted it becomes the formal certification agreement for WCS to provide certification services.
The initial audit is split onto a two stage approach.
The stage one is generally an onsite review the management system documentation, a review of site conditions, audit team introductions, review of the clients awareness and determination of readiness to move forward to the stage two assessment. A report it produced with an auditor recommendation and contains areas of concern.
The stage two is an on site assessment of a clients management system includes, process, activities, site conditions, operational control, leadership, documentation etc. The auditor will produce a report detailing strengths, opportunities for improvement and non conformances. Within the report the auditor will make a recommendation for certification or not. The client will be required to submit corrective action for the non conformances raised during the stage two. The audit report and corrective action will go through technical review and it will be a Certification Manager who makes the final certification decision.
The certification decision is the responsibility of the Accredited Office in Liverpool, UK. A certificate is issued after the completion of the stage two audit, submission of any corrective action and after technical review has been completed.
Certificates of Registration
Certificates are issued for a period of three years from the certification decision and remain valid subject to ongoing surveillance audits.
In general, the first surveillance audit is planned for 9 months after the certification decision. The following surveillance is then planned a further 12 months later. Of course for larger clients with many audit days and perhaps certified to multiple management system standards, it is possible to split surveillance audit duration and complete the audits more frequent.
A certification cycle is three years. WCS will maintain an audit programme for each client showing the audit duration, the approx month and year of planned audits and a list of areas / processes that will be audited at each visit. This is a dynamic document and can be changed throughout the certification cycle.
For each audit WCS completes the Lead Auditor will produce an audit plan. The audit plan will include the audit objectives, the audit criteria, the audit scope, the dates and sites where the audit will be completed, the expected durations and the processes, activities etc to be audited.
Triennial Performance Review
Before each recertification audit and approx 5 months before certificate expiry, WCS will complete an office based performance review. This involves reading all reports from the cycle including non conformances, complaints, response timescales etc. WCS also review the scope, sites, employees and contact the client to request up to date information. Based on the results of this performance review, WCS will create a new quote / agreement for the next three year cycle.
Once the client has accepted the new certification agreement, WCS plan and complete the recertification audit. The recertification audit covers all areas of the scope and all clauses of the applicable management system. Following the audit and any corrective action required, a new certificate is issued for a further three years.
WCS Headquarters in Liverpool, United Kingdom is the accredited office responsible for making all certification decisions. In fact this office is responsible for granting, refusing, maintaining, renewing, extending, suspending, restoring and withdrawing certification.
Suspension and Withdrawal
Suspension and Withdrawal of certification can be processed for the following reasons:
- WCS is unable to arrange and undertake surveillance audits
- Poor audit results and the system has failed to meet requirements
- Lack of suitable corrective action
- None payment of certification fees
- Voluntary suspension
- Voluntary withdrawal
If a client requires a scope extension including the addition of another site then in general they are required to apply to WCS for this scope extension. A completed request for quote form may be required or a detailed description of the extension in writing. WCS will review the application and determine the audit duration and costs to process the extension. The certification agreement will be revised. Extensions can be in conjunction with routine surveillance audits or through the completion of special audit.