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 July 1997 Article

Is Joint Certification the

Next Step for Your Company?

Many companies that are pursuing
ISO 9000 certification are being
certified to ISO 14001 at the same time.

by Annette Dennis McCully

As ISO 14001 gains momentum, many companies that  are certified to ISO 9001 are also pursuing certification to ISO 14001. Often, they plan to have joint audits conducted by registrars to maintain conformance to both standards.

Quality Digest spoke with three companies about their joint certifications that are in process or are completed: Matsushita Semiconductor Corp. of America, a Japanese-owned manufacturer of semiconductors in Puyallup, Washington; Tivoly Inc., a manufacturer of metal-cutting tools in Derby Line, Vermont, with several manufacturing facilities in France and Spain; and Akzo Nobel in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Akzo Nobel, a Netherlands-based company with businesses in specialty chemicals, coatings, pharmaceuticals and fibers, has sites in more than 50 countries.

To gain a well-rounded perspective of joint certification, Quality Digest also spoke with BVQI, one of the few registrars qualified to certify companies to both standards in the United States, and with representatives from one state and one federal regulatory agency.

Defining joint certification

Debra Reese, ISO 9002/ISO 14001 project director for Matsushita, defines joint certification as a company that is certified to both standards through use of the same management system. Matsushita Semiconductor Corp. of America is an independent subsidiary of Matsushita Electrical Co., an international company that manufactures consumer electronics. The Puyallup, Washington, site, which has 409 employees, manufactures and assembles semiconductors.

"MASCA's quality systems have been expanded to contain and reflect requirements of the environmental standard so that everything is on a level playing field," explains Reese. "The two systems are so integrated and interlinked that neither can be logically removed."

MASCA has always regarded environmental issues as paramount, asserts Reese. As early as 1993, when the company drafted its quality policy, a statement was included about being in harmony with the earth's ecology.

"The company has strived for and received awards for environmental excellence since 1982," notes Reese. "Because of the kinds of materials used to create semiconductors, we have always been concerned about the environment, along with getting a good product out the door. A company that is perceived as not being a good neighbor won't be able to sell its products and will be under a great deal of pressure to improve environmental performance."

Logic of pursuing ISO 14001

At MASCA, Reese says that ISO 14001 certification -- which they received May 1 -- was perceived as the logical next step, so they didn't perform an involved cost analysis before beginning to incorporate an EMS. In fact, she used the standard's framework to incorporate the necessary environmental management training for employees and treated all issues and groups within the company as elements of this process.

"We did not single out, say, the facilities group, the management group, the waste water or scrubber staff, but treated the standard's application as a sitewide situation," explains Reese. She also garnered input from all employees at every level and got employees involved, although she admits that this concept is not new to the company, which has had a long-standing policy of companywide involvement in many kinds of issues.

Philippe Bourg, chief operating officer of Tivoly Inc., part of the Tivoly Group (with sites in France and Spain), says that the company's location is a driver in pursuing ISO 14001 certification. The company's site in the village of Derby Line, Vermont, has 170 employees and manufactures metal-cutting tools such as taps, dies, reamers and counterbores. The company received ISO 9002 certification in 1995 and sees this management system as good groundwork for the ISO 14001 environmental management system.

Bourg explains that he did not want his company's environmental system to depend on one person who is knowledgeable about requirements and maintains the system. "If the environmental system is formalized on paper, risk to the company is limited as more people know what has been done, what methods are used and whom to contact," says Bourg. "ISO 9002 has some of these requirements, but ISO 14001 has strong legal implications. The system is also cross-functional and can be audited so we can ensure that what we planned to do has actually been done by checking against procedures. This can be done through internal audits or through third-party audits once a year."

Integrity of individual systems

The integrity of the two systems can easily be retained in joint certification, according to Reese. Because the systems complement each other, she says there is no need to separate them, nor is there any inherent disadvantage in combining them. She emphasizes that overlapping the quality and environmental systems is logical and that there is no point in attempting to separate the two.

Wayne Balfanz, a manager in safety, health, environmental and regulatory affairs for Akzo Nobel Chemicals Inc. in Dobbs Ferry, New York, says that they went through the standard section by section to determine which sections they wanted to integrate and which ones they wanted to keep separate, a decision that is made site by site. The LeMoyne site in Axis, Alabama, which has 175 employees, is a chemical complex with six product lines. At this site, the company created one integrated policy for quality, environment, safety and health, and responsible care. He adds that the plant's software-based ISO 9000 management systems were readily expandable to include ISO 14001. At the Edison, New Jersey, site, policies for quality, environment and safety are separate, distinct policies.

"If the policies are integrated, it may be necessary to do a little additional training so employees recognize the different components," explains Balfanz. "However, existing ISO 9000 document control can easily integrate the environmental procedures."

Internal auditing makes it possible to keep the two management systems intertwined and effectively coexisting, notes Reese. "Because all our processes are documented and we use the same auditing system, lead auditor and auditing staff, we are able to conduct audits through our dedicated auditing staff all year," she says. "We don't just audit once a year but observe the systems on a regular basis, from process on."

Members of the internal auditing team for ISO 9002 have not necessarily been involved in developing the quality systems being audited, so they are able to maintain objectivity, Reese points out. "Employees cannot audit their own groups," she emphasizes. "The audits are conducted strictly by documented procedures, so a finding is either in the specifications or it is a discrepancy. Our department is audited by another department, whose auditors were trained by me, then those audits are checked against that department's certifications so that cross-checking occurs among departments, and both training and internal audits are accomplished in the process."

Akzo Nobel uses the same internal audit team to audit to both ISO 9002 and ISO 14001 management systems, indicates Balfanz. Internal compliance auditing is conducted routinely by trained site personnel, and the site undergoes periodic checks by environmental personnel from the safety, health, environmental and regulatory affairs service unit. The LeMoyne site went through joint certification to ISO 9002 and ISO 14001 last year. This site had many of the components of the ISO 14001 EMS in place and had incorporated the Chemical Manufacturers' Association Responsible Care program, explains Balfanz. This program includes pollution prevention, emergency response and community awareness programs. Because of the meshing of these programs, it is difficult to determine the exact costs of implementing ISO 14001, he adds.

Cost of joint certification

Reese explains that internal audit cost, based on the salaries of her auditors at MASCA, comes to about $30,000 per year. External audits for ISO 9002 conducted by the registrar come to $6,000 per year, with another $6,000 per year for ISO 14001. When being audited to both standards at once, there are still two processes to audit, but some efficiencies result. Because both systems are being audited at once, there is one set of airfares and hotel bills, one set of days billed at $1,200 per day per auditor, less interface time with auditors for employees and more time for employees to pursue and serve clients.

The cost of a joint audit is not half the cost of two sets of audits but is somewhere in between half the amount and the full cost of two sets, explains Randy Daugharthy of BVQI, one of the few registrars qualified to certify to both ISO 9000 and ISO 14001. "About 80 percent of the costs of certification are internal, with ISO 9000 certification registrar costs about $22,000 to $24,000 and ISO 14001 about $18,000 to $20,000," he notes.

Accreditation bodies require one certificate per management system, along with separate initial certification, files and contracts, although the audit activity can be combined, says Daugharthy. "Because we have had many calls from existing ISO 9000 customers about adding ISO 14001, we are working on ways to offer audit price reductions for systems already in place while satisfying the integrity of ISO 14001," he adds.

But why have joint audits by registrars? "The first reason is the cost," asserts Reese. "The second reason is to eliminate differences in perceptions of various registrar's auditors about interpretation of the standard and the company's processes. Both standards are purposely vague so that a range of implementations can be used, but if two audits are conducted within a month of each other, the exact same systems may get different reviews."

Reese adds that this profusion of audits also ties up company employees' time in preparation and in follow-up corrective actions. Because she wants to reduce this time and streamline the process wherever possible, MASCA's auditors have agreed to arrange for joint auditing in the future.

Balfanz points out that the registrar has to have environmental qualifications, adding that Mary Rose Nguyen of BVQI is the only person in that firm qualified to audit to both ISO 9002 and ISO 14001, and that lead registrars with these qualifications are few. Daugharthy sees significant advantages in conducting joint audits. "There are efficiencies in doing joint audits, along with reduced travel costs," he says. "Overall, if there are integrated management systems, it helps the company to have a complete management system. As the registrar, more planning is required, and we have to look at more elements and have a more sophisticated audit team, with abilities in both quality and environmental auditing. Akzo Nobel Chemicals was one of the first companies that we certified to both standards, and all our surveillance audits will be joint audits because they feel there is less disruption."

Building on ISO 9002 with ISO 14001

Because MASCA was already certified to ISO 9002, employees were able to ramp up to ISO 14001 concepts very rapidly and began turning in suggestions for improvements to their long-standing EMS, explains Reese. "Prior to ISO 14001, our EMS had been process-based, so this was a distinct change," she recalls. "There was no need to convince employees of the value of the system because the quality system also incorporated employee suggestions. The ISO 9002 system incorporates an employee suggestion program that allows input on any kind of improvement, such as morale or process."

There are many areas where ISO 9002 and ISO 14001 overlap, such as document control, management review, calibration, preventive maintenance, corrective action and preventive actions, making it easy to incorporate the two systems, asserts Reese. She keeps the documentation simple and objectives reasonable. By breaking the objective down from, say, a 10-year goal into doable, smaller objectives, she found it easier to keep the momentum and enthusiasm going. She also recommends avoiding the development of multiple tiers of documentation all at once -- they may be redundant or may even contradict each other. Not only is this discouraging, it makes more sense to develop small components and try them out for a while before proceeding to the next level.

Because of these system overlaps, joint certification makes sense, points out Daugharthy. "For one thing, the company has already gone through the culture change that occurs with ISO 9000, so it is an incremental step to get to ISO 14001," he notes. "The main drivers of both systems are management review, document control, internal audit and corrective action, so it's not that much harder for a company to step up to ISO 14001."

Training is a key issue to effective integration of ISO 9002 and ISO 14001, says Bourg. "According to the information I have been able to get from companies that are already certified to ISO 14001, training is key when employees are faced with the auditors," he reports. "We used a consultant to train our team in charge of implementing the EMS, then we trained our internal auditing team and educated our work force."

The supervisors in each department were trained, and they, in turn, trained people in their own department. Some special training was also required for the emergency response team, hazardous waste and energy conservation issues, and for employees in general prior to the external audit about how to answer questions, adds Bourg. Tivoly plans to go through the third-party audit for certification at the end of June 1997.

Regulatory response to joint certification

Formal response to ISO 14001 certification is currently being explored through an ISO 14000 Leadership Project in the Puget Sound area, says Tom Eaton, special assistant to the director for pollution prevention at the Washington State Department of Ecology. Eaton is a principal of the project, which is being administered by K.C. Ayers, executive director of International Standards Initiative.

"We are still trying to figure out how to respond as a regulatory agency to companies that have both quality and environmental management systems," comments Eaton. "What I think it means, at least in terms of pollution prevention, is that a company is well-suited to improve the quality of its product and to manage its environmental aspects in a way to get its EMS approved in lieu of a state pollution prevention plan that requires approval every five years. Joint certification can also mean streamlining other reporting requirements, which we hope to define in a follow-up to our leadership project."

"The Environmental Protection Agency is looking at possible ways to respond to ISO 14001 implications, but, right now, we don't have specific plans to respond with a specific program or incentive," says Nancy Helm, hazardous waste and toxic use coordinator for EPA Region 10. "The Environmental Leadership Program, a national project due to be released as a proposal in the Federal Register for May 1997, may provide an opportunity for companies that have a mature EMS consistent with ISO 14001 -- not necessarily certified. These companies will be able to apply to become members of the ELP program. This is the only program at the EPA related to ISO 14001 on a national level."

Helm adds that anyone at the EPA who has looked at ISO 14001 can see that it is a very useful tool to manage environmental aspects. "We look at joint certification as very positive; we just don't have incentives to offer in the immediate future," she reports.

Ultimate integration

ISO 9000 and ISO 14001 will ultimately be one management system, predicts Daugharthy. "The more sophisticated companies and the companies that are maturing with the standards are integrating as much as possible because this makes the system much easier to manage," he says. "I think they will eventually be blended as one standard because industry is moving very quickly toward joint accreditation -- a single certification for both -- and joint audits. We need to get accreditation bodies and technical committees to move in this direction."

Nguyen of BVQI was just appointed chairperson of a subworking group for TC 207 to research the merging of these two management systems. Should the merging of the two standards become official, it will be all the more important for ISO 9000-certified companies to pursue ISO 14001 certification, asserts Daugharthy.

About the author

Annette Dennis McCully, owner of McCully Technical Services in Kirkland, Washington, is a technical writer and science journalist.

Contact McCully at McCully Technical Services, 14351-109th Ave. N.E., Kirkland, WA 98034. Telephone (206) 488-3480, fax (206) 485-9232 or e-mail amccully@qualitydigest.com.


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