The Importance of Evaluating Compliance
What is meant by ‘Evaluation of Compliance’?
Evaluation of Compliance is a process that an organisation should undertake to evaluate its level of compliance to applicable requirements. The evaluation should be based on objective evidence.
What is meant by ‘Applicable Requirements’?
The actual term used with certain ISO standards is ‘Compliance Obligations’. Or ‘Legal & Other Requirements’. These are obligations that are either placed onto the organisation, or that the organisation chooses to comply with.
An example of an obligation that is placed onto an organisation could be a legal requirement.
An example of an obligation that the organisation chooses to comply with could be an industry specific scheme, or a local initiative that the organisation believes is beneficial. Or even a requirement that the organisation places on itself.
Once these obligations have been defined then they must be incorporated into the organisation’s processes, which when followed on a regular basis, will ensure compliance, without additional planning, effort or thought.
However, to ensure that compliance is being achieved we are asked to periodically verify compliance. This is the ‘Evaluation of Compliance’.
A common mistake that organisations make is to believe that the Evaluation of Compliance only consists of periodically checking that the compliance obligations haven’t changed. Or new compliance obligations have been issued.
This could include pieces of legislation being amended, new, applicable, legislation being issued or non-mandatory requirements being either changed, or the organisation identifying new obligations they’d like to comply with.
This is indeed part of the process but not the whole process. We must then, periodically, seek objective evidence to demonstrate compliance.
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Here are some examples of effective compliance evaluation:
Sampling lifting equipment for its condition, storage, identification and the display of its safe working load.
Sampling the Thorough Examination, by a competent person, of some lifting equipment. Ensuring that any remedial works identified have been completed. Ensuring the records of all of these activities are suitably maintained.
Sampling of some lifting operations. To ensure they have been suitably risk assessed, planned, completed and any remedial or improvement actions have been followed up.
Sampling of some COSHH risk assessments, for some substances that are potentially harmful to health.
Sampling the identification, storage, containment and any other applicable operational controls, for these substances. To ensure that individuals from being kept safe from harm.
Sampling the storage and identification of certain waste streams.
Sampling the application of the waste hierarchy.
Sampling of duty of care operational controls for these waste streams.
Sampling of records for the responsible disposal of these waste streams.
Hints and Tips
As you can see, the Evaluation of Compliance doesn’t stop with ensuring your legal register is up to date. You have to go out and seek objective evidence to demonstrate your compliance.
You must also keep records of your findings. If you find non-compliance you must take appropriate corrective measures once you’ve positively identified the root cause of the issue. All of this is part of an effective Evaluation of Compliance.
How can you complete your Evaluation of Compliance?
The answer is simple; in the most effective means for your organisation!
There is no set method for doing so. Some organisations incorporate elements of their evaluation into their internal audits.
For example, when assessing an office area it's common for businesses to sample the Display Screen Assessments for some of the people working within that immediate area.
Whate are the types of things that organisations often review when looking at the physical work environment?
Are there suitable welfare facilities?
Sufficient information relating to emergency plans?
Information on the provision of First Aid?
Suitable signage indicating emergency escape routes & exits?
Information relating to measures to prevent the spread of Covid?
Suitable heating and lighting?
A tidy work environment to prevent slips, trips & falls?
Means for the segregation, recycling and disposal of waste.
The list of possibilities goes on and on.
You may wish to complete a focused, periodic, evaluation of compliance. The period of this evaluation should be based on the levels of risk being posed by your activities. So don’t just do it annually because its always been done annually. Think about the risk and set an appropriate frequency that works for you.
You may also wish to evaluate your compliance on a more frequent basis. Certain types of compliance could be assessed as part of daily walk arounds, e.g. personnel using PPE correctly. Working environment in order to prevent slips, trips and falls. Nuisances such as litter, noise or odour.
No matter how you choose to do it, please remember that you must keep records to demonstrate that you have done it. Followed by suitable actions should they prove necessary.
If you follow this guidance you should routinely evaluate the levels of compliance within your organisation. You should find that this will help you to identify and prevent potential incidents before they occur, & hopefully provide some opportunities for business and operational improvement along the way.
Author - Alan Flood, Regional Assessor, NQA