Compliance Corner: Answering Non-Conformances

Receiving non-conformances during your ISO assessments is common and not necessarily negative. Instead, view them as opportunities to improve your system. Non-conformances do not mean losing your certificate or that your system is poor; they simply indicate areas needing attention.

Your Auva Lead Auditor will provide an audit findings report when you receive non-conformances. This report will detail the specific clause of the standard you have not complied with, include the actual text from the standard for your reference, and explain why you are not compliant. Additionally, the report will specify whether the non-conformance is major or minor and provide deadlines for addressing them.

Non-conformances occur when you fail to meet a requirement of the standard or something stipulated within your system. These can be classified as major or minor:

  • Major Non-Conformance: A significant issue impacting product or service quality, or a major breakdown in the system. This can include breaches of legislation, especially in standards like ISO 14001 or ISO 45001.
  • Minor Non-Conformance: A smaller issue that does not directly impact product or service quality but still needs to be addressed.

Regardless of the classification, both types of non-conformances must be addressed in the same way. Here’s a detailed guide on how to respond to non-conformances effectively:

1. Correction

This is the initial step to prevent the problem from getting worse. For example, if training records are not completed, the immediate correction would be to update them. Ensure you also check other similar records to verify if the problem is more widespread.

Document your corrective action in the audit findings report, clearly explaining what you have done to fix the issue and the extent of the problem.

2. Root Cause Analysis

Identifying the root cause is crucial to prevent the issue from recurring. Avoid simply repeating the non-conformance statement; instead, dig deeper to understand why it happened. Tools like the 5 Whys technique can be helpful.

For instance, if training records were not updated because the responsible person left and their duties were not reassigned, this points to a lack of process for handing over responsibilities. Document your findings in the root cause section of the report.

3. Corrective Action

Your corrective actions should address the root cause and prevent the issue from happening again. This might involve updating procedures, improving handover processes, or providing additional training.

Corrective actions may take time to implement fully, but they should be designed to ensure long-term compliance. It’s also a good idea to introduce monitoring systems, such as monthly mini-audits on that specific area to verify the effectiveness of the corrective actions.

Example Scenario: Training Records Non-Conformance

  • Correction: Update the incomplete training records and review all related records.
  • Root Cause: Identify that the issue occurred due to a lack of process for handover when staff leave.
  • Corrective Action: Implement a new handover procedure, update relevant documents, and conduct regular checks to ensure compliance.

Final Thoughts

Properly addressing non-conformances is essential to maintain your ISO certification. Take the time to document your actions and ensure they are effective thoroughly. If you need assistance, reach out to our team at Auva—we’re here to help.

Obtaining ISO Certification ensures your business remains compliant and improves continuously. Contact us today to learn how we can support you in achieving and maintaining your certification.