The Certification Process
Enquiry – Quotation – Application
It all starts with simply contacting the West Coast Certification office to get more information about the Certification process. You will be required to provide some details about your company that enables us to put together an accurate and obligation free quotation. When you confirm your acceptance of our quotation you will receive a welcome email that explains in detail what will happen next.
Stage 1 Assessment
Stage 1 assessment consists of a Document Review and an onsite Pre-assessment. This process will be started once you indicate that you are ready. A Stage 1 assessment is done to make sure that your organisation is ready for the Certification Audit and that an appropriate audit team can be selected. You will receive a report that clearly specifies any additions or changes that may be necessary. You will be given sufficient time and guidance to do so.
Stage 2 Assessment
Stage 2 is also referred to as the ‘onsite Certification Audit’. This is the audit in which your management system’s compliance with the requirements is assessed as well as the actual implementation of your system in your activities. As with the previous step, you will receive a full report of the findings of this assessment.
This only applies if elements of your system do not meet the requirements. Depending on the nature of the finding, you will be required to either submit a plan detailing your intended actions or to provide evidence that you have made the changes as required. Again, you will be given sufficient time to do so.
The independent Certification Approval Panel (CAP) will review your files and the auditor’s recommendations. If certification is granted you will be notified and you can start using the applicable Certification Marks. If Certification is not approved you are informed about the reasons as well as your right to appeal this decision.
Once an organisation is certified, it will be authorised to use the appropriate Certification Marks. (Please note that use of our Certification Marks is authorised only to confirm the certification status of the organisation. Any use of our Certification Marks is subject to the conditions specified in our Marks Licence Terms).
After Certification has been granted, we will conduct a series of regular Surveillance Audits to ensure you continue to comply with the requirements and maintain your system. Surveillance audits are usually done every six months or every year, depending on circumstances and your preference.
If issues are identified during any of the Surveillance Audits these will be discussed with you by the Auditor and you will be given a reasonable time frame to address these issues. When addressed appropriately, these issues will not impact on the status of your Certification.
On the rare occasion that the issue cannot be resolved within the agreed time frame, your Certification may temporarily be suspended. In this case a time frame will be determined within which you need to resolve the issues. When resolved, Certification can be reinstated by the CAP. If the situation does not get resolved as required, this could lead to a termination/ cancellation of Certification.
The Surveillance stage normally lasts for 3 years. Your Certification then needs to be renewed.
Once every three years West Coast Certification must conduct a re-certification of your Management System followed by a new Certification Decision by the independent Certification Approval Panel. If re-certification is granted, your new certification is again issued with a validity of three years. During this three-year period you again undergo six-monthly or annual Surveillance Audits.
Scope Expansions or Reductions
If you would like to expand (or reduce) your scope of certification at any time, please contact us and advise the changes you would like to make, so that we can calculate the audit duration required to accommodate the change(s).
Suspension or Withdrawal of Certification
The following reasons may give rise to a suspension of a client’s certification:
- The client’s management system has persistently or seriously failed to meet certification requirements
- The client does not allow surveillance or re-certification audits to be conducted at the required frequencies, within acceptable time frames
- The client commits a serious breach of the certification terms and conditions that is not remedied within a reasonable time frame, including non-payment of invoices
- The client requests a voluntary suspension
Provided the client remedies the situations outlined above within a specified time frame, and provides evidence of remedial action, the Certification Approval panel may approve the reinstatement of certification.
In the event that the client does not address the cause of suspension, the certification shall be subject to withdrawal or scope reduction.