Draft of joint ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 audit standard published

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The draft of a new ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standard for auditing both ISO 9000 (quality) and ISO 14000 (environmental) management systems is now publicly available.

Benefiting from the considerable body of experience that has built up on the auditing of ISO management systems, the standard will replace six existing ones in the ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 families. It will help user organizations to optimize their management systems, facilitate the integration of quality and environmental management, and, in allowing single audits of both systems, will save money and decrease disruption of work units being audited.

The draft International Standard ISO/DIS 19011, Guidelines for quality and/or environmental management systems auditing, can be purchased from ISO national member institutes, which are listed with full contact details on the ISO Web site (www.iso.org), or from ISO Central Secretariat (customerservice@iso.org). The French language version was expected to be published in July 2001.

ISO/DIS 19011 was published on 31 May 2001 and has been distributed to ISO's members for a five-month ballot, closing on 31 October 2001. If approved, the document will subsequently be published, with modifications resulting from comments received, as a Final Draft International Standard for a further ballot. Its publication as a fully fledged International Standard is expected in 2002.

Both the ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 families of International Standards emphasize the importance of audits as a management tool for monitoring and verifying the effective implementation of an organization's policy for quality and/or environmental management. Audits are also an essential part of activities such as external certification/registration and of supply chain evaluation and surveillance.

ISO 19011 provides guidance on the conduct of internal or external quality and/or environmental management system audits, as well as on the management of audit programmes. Intended users of this International Standard include auditors, organizations implementing quality and/or environmental management systems, and organizations involved in auditor certification or training, certification/registration of management systems, and accreditation or standardization in the area of conformity assessment.

The development of ISO 19011 is being carried out by a joint working group (JWG) set up by two subcommittees of the ISO technical committees ISO/TC 176, Quality management and quality assurance, and ISO/TC 207, Environmental management. The JWG Secretary, Dick Hortensius, described the benefits which the new standard is expected to bring users and the improvements made compared to the documents which it will replace.

"The new guidelines provide a uniform approach for the auditing of environmental (EMS) and quality management systems (QMS). As many organizations implement both EMS and QMS - either as separate systems, or as an integrated management system - they want to harmonize and, where possible, combine the auditing of these systems.

"This saves money in two ways. Firstly, a single audit team - provided the necessary expertise on environment and quality is included - can audit both systems at the same time. Secondly, the organizational unit that is being audited is only disturbed once.

"As far as external audits are concerned, ISO 19011 also provides certification/registration bodies with a uniform approach and will facilitate the combined external assessment of management systems. ISO 19011 is thus serving a real market need for better harmonization of practices in the quality and environmental management arenas.

"An important improvement of the new guideline is related to auditor qualifications. The standard recognizes more explicitly than the previous auditing guidelines that the competence of the audit team and individual auditors varies according to the nature, scope and complexity of the audit and that it is not possible to set uniform competence criteria which are applicable to all kinds of situations. Therefore, ISO 19011 provides a framework that enables organizations to set their own competence requirements and related auditor evaluation processes."

"A last improvement is the combination of the descriptions of the management of audit programmes and the conduct of individual audits in a single guideline. This combination emphasizes the relationship between the two and makes it clear that the quality of individual audits depends, among other factors, on the quality of the supporting audit programme."

ISO 19011 will replace ISO 10011-1, ISO 10011-2 and ISO 10011-3 in the ISO 9000 family and ISO 14010, ISO 14011 and ISO 14012 in the ISO 14000 family. It will complete the ISO 9000 "core series" also comprising the revised ISO 9000, ISO 9001 and ISO 9004, published in December 2000.


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