What are Nonconformities, Corrective and Preventative Actions?
In general terms:
- A nonconformity is the non-fulfillment or failure to meet a requirement, where the requirement is a need or expectation that is stated, generally implied or obligatory.
- A corrective action is an action to eliminate a detected nonconformity and to prevent a recurrence.
- A preventative action is an action to eliminate the cause of a potential nonconformity or other potentially undesirable situation.
Nonconformities in the context of AS/NZS ISO 14001 are any aspects of the environmental management system that do not conform to the requirements of the standard.
There are three general types of AS/NZS ISO 14001 nonconformities:
- Non-compliance with legal or other requirements.
- Non-adherence to the AS/NZS ISO 14001 standard itself.
- Poor performance of the environmental management system.
Note: Nonconformities can be caused by several factors, including incorrect or incomplete documentation, lack of training, inadequate resources, and poor communication. Corrective and preventive action must be taken to address nonconformities and prevent them from happening again in the future.
Identifying a Nonconformity
An environmental nonconformity may be identified from several sources, including:
- Surveys, tests and inspections.
- Non-conformance reporting.
- Environmental performance audits and risk assessments.
- Internal audit findings, second or third-party audit findings.
- Complaints (internal or external).
- Observations and inspections.
- Interested party concerns or complaints.
- In-process concerns or concerns about environmental stability.
- Environmental incidents, near misses and any minor nonconformities.
- Potential or actual breaches of compliance.
Environmental Corrective and Preventative Actions
An organization’s management should review any major issues raised by an environmental nonconformity to identify the level of corrective or preventative action that is required.
Repeated nonconformities of the same nature or significant deviations from procedures or policies should be reported to the controlling representative for action and prompt resolution.
Environmental corrective or preventative actions should always be taken as a result of:
- Genuine customer concerns or complaints.
- In-process concerns.
- Concerns about environmental stability.
- Environmental accidents or incidents.
- Both major nonconformities and minor non-conformances.
Note: Any corrective and preventative action plans developed should include the details of who is responsible for applying corrective or preventative actions and the appropriate timing for the completion of such actions.
Contents of this AS/NZS ISO 14001 Nonconformity and Corrective Action Procedure
- Terms and Definitions.
- Roles and Responsibilities.
- Nonconformities, Corrective and Preventative Action Process Overview.
- Nonconformities, Corrective and Preventative Action Activity Map .
- Identifying a Non-Conformity.
- Implement Corrective Actions and Preventative Actions.
- Corrective and Preventative Action Reviews.
- Related Procedures, Forms and Documents.
- Review Criteria.
- Record Management.
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