Although we normally only focus on our part of the process when doing a BRC audit, there’s a lot more to it and there are a number of processes that your BRC certification body follow, which you need to be aware of.
In this article we’ll go through them, as they may have a massive impact on your site and affect your audit…
(1) audit expiry
If you have an announced audit, it’s your responsibility to make sure your audit is done before your audit window expiries. You can find the audit window on your certificate.
However, if you have an unannounced audit, then it’s your responsibility to instruct your BRC certification body to do the audit, but it’s the certification body’s responsibility to make sure it’s done before the audit window expires.
There has been an issue recently where a site had requested that an unannounced audit to be completed, but certification body didn’t schedule it and therefore the site missed their audit window. If you don’t do your audit before your audit window expires, you will automatically get a major at your next audit. This means that you will start your audit on a B grade. So, if you’re on an unannounced audit, keep a close eye on the date and don’t let it get too close to the expiry date, before you call the certification body and check to make sure they are coming.
(2) audit result
The auditor cannot tell you what audit score you’ve got at the closing meeting. This is because a technical review will take place, before the number and grade of non-conformances can be confirmed. This is a really key point, as you may find that the number of non-conformances change and also the grade of the non-conformances may change. So, there is potential for this to change the grade of your audit.
What this means, is that you have 28 days to close out your non-conformances, but during this time and even after your 28 days, you may be given more non-conformances to close out. There have been a number of issues around this, where sites have had non-conformances added from the technical review, but this either hasn’t been communicated to the site or it has been communicated very late.
Although it’s the responsibility of the BRC certification body, it’s in your interests to check with them regularly until they can confirm that the technical review has been completed and that they can confirm your audit grade.
(3) the report
The audit must always be provided to you in English. Translations are allowed, but English must be provided with the translation. Don’t let your BRC certification body or your suppliers tell you that they can’t provide an audit report in English, as this is not the case.
(4) exclusions from scope
We’ve talked a lot about the logo recently, and I’ve been updating the post I did, to keep it up to date. BRC have now said that the new logo must be used by sites by Feb 2020. This doesn’t give you much time to get anything that you’ve got to the logo on, switched over. I’m especially concerned about vehicles with logos on, so I’ve asked BRC if this date still stands for expensive changes like this; but unfortunately, they have chosen not to reply.
In all of the standards, the BRC are very clear that if you exclude anything from the scope of your audit, you cannot use the logo. However, they have published one document, which is shown here, which states that this doesn’t apply to traded products excluded from scope. I think this is a mistake, but again BRC have chosen not to reply to my query on this. My suggestion would be to err on the side of caution and not use the logo if you exclude traded products from your scope. I would imagine, behind the scenes BRC are updating this document – which I imagine will be published on BRC Participate. If anyone sees that the document has been re-issued, please can you let me know so I can update this article?
If you want to improve your audit score, or if you need to complete an audit following a failed audit, you must have this audit with your current certification body. If you don’t want to use your current certification body, you have to apply to your certification body, who will request this through the formal concession process. If you don’t get formal approval of this concession in writing, then any audit that you do with another certification body will not be accepted by BRC.
This means, that if you fall out with your certification body for any reason, and you want to re-do your audit, you need them to agree that you can move to another certification body. You can see that there’s a conflict of interest here, so I would recommend if you find yourself in this position that you make a formal request directly to BRC and not just to your certification body.
To do this, send the details to BRC at email@example.com and make sure you include:
- Site details – name, address, site code, etc
- Site contact details
- Certification body details
- Details of the complaint – accompanied by any objective evidence available