COVID-19 is not described in any ISO standards, and therefore it has been quite interesting to see how different certifying bodies have approached the situation. For here, too, there is no question of any clear standardization.
Most certifying bodies have decided to use remote audits online, but one believes that they can read the rules in such a way that it means that you can only issue certificates with a validity of 6 months, after which a physical visit MUST be made. We have asked the relevant certifying body in vain where they find these provisions, but the answer is fluttering in the wind, just as it has not been possible for us to get answers on how this certifying body will ensure that a pandemic lasts only 6 months, so it is at all possible and justifiable to make a physical visit after 6 months.
The same certifying body, which is very Danish, has maintained throughout the pandemic that it was happy to go out on physical audits, but that it would accept – with the 6-month requirement – if the customer wanted an online audit. The customers have probably not been informed that they had this opportunity, so there are a number of customers who have thought that they had to let the auditors into the company. On the other hand, they have failed to prepare risk assessments for their own employees, just as there is no shadow of guidelines for the employees’ work with customers – in other words, clear violations of the guidelines reported by various authorities. And on top of that, violations of guidelines that one has not familiarized with or is familiar with. Quite well done by a certifying body that, among other things, certifies work environment systems!
In the area of EN 1090 (structural steel), the situation is completely absurd. A Danish certifying body has announced that it is against the rules to use online audits at all. Another certifying body just as stubbornly claims that an online audit MUST be followed by a physical workshop visit, which is why they demand to enter the Danish forging companies in January and February 2021 despite the current pandemic situation.
And finally, there are quite a few certifying bodies that believe that they too are covered by the authorities’ guidelines and guidance in this situation, and that COVID-19 is actually described in relevant standards under the section on force majeure.