Inspection, verification and certification company SGS South Africa has developed toolkits that have been circulated to all its clients to assist them with the transition process required to meet the updates in the International Organisation for Standardisation’s (ISO’s) three core management systems.
SGS South Africa traditional certification operations manager Derisha Govender explains that updates to ISO 9001 – which specifies requirements for a quality management system, ISO 14001 – which outlines environmental requirements, and ISO 45001 – which delineates occupational health and safety standards, were released in 2015, with allowance made for a three-year transition period.
Companies across all industries must, thus, ensure compliance with the updates by September next year or risk the redundancy of their current certificate.
“ . . . to help companies navigate the changes in the standards, SGS has issued a toolkit to its clients with readiness checklists that help companies to gauge their compliance. Feedback from our clients has indicated that many of them are much closer to meeting the requirements of the new standards than they realised, and the checklists help them to identify and hone in on the areas of their operations that really require attention,” says Govender.
She highlights that the checklists have been designed to help companies understand in simple terms what is required by the standards, with each section of each standard broken down by clause. Companies can then perform a self-assessment, rating their performance on each criteria as ready, nearly ready or work to do.
“The aim of the checklists is to help companies separate areas where their businesses’ activities already comply with the standards, from those that require additional attention.”
Govender notes that the new standardised clause structure of the standards will facilitate better integration between the three management systems, as well as ensuring better understanding of the requirements therein using business-style language.
The updates to the standards also require companies to employ more risk-based thinking, taking steps to identify the risks and opportunities inherent in their organisational context and plan actions that address these risks and opportunities, integrate and implement them in their processes and evaluate the effectiveness of these actions.
Under the new updates, top management must also demonstrate its involvement and engagement with the requirements of the standards through direct participation, taking the standards into account in strategic planning and communicating the importance of adhering to policies aligned with these standards.
Top management must also play an active role in directing and supporting persons in all functions relating to the new standards while promoting and leading an organisational culture that is strongly aligned with ISO tenets.
“Companies can ensure a smooth transition to the new requirements by planning ahead, attending seminars and reading all the guideline documentation that has been released by SGS on email and through social media,” Govender concludes.