Home Resources Blog February 2017

60 Seconds with Nicola Rigelsford

22 February 2017
This month’s 60 seconds is with an Nicola Rigelsford, who talks about her interesting audits, which includes a ISO 14001 audit at “Number 10”, sitting in a Tornado, standing on the stage at the Royal Opera House and swinging from a crane in a harness… just to name a few!


A bag full…..ISO 9001, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001, ISO 50001. Before joining NQA, I also audited TS 16949, Lexcel, Chain of custody (diamonds), HSSS18 and a smattering of CE numbers.
I have been an auditor for over 20 years and my bag of standards continues to grow.


A difficult question, there have been so many surprising days. However some of the more interesting audits included a 14001 audit at “Number 10”, sitting in a Tornado, standing on the stage at the Royal Opera House, swinging from a crane in a harness and a few, I can’t mention without being carted off to the Tower. 


Over the years there has been several times where ISO certification has proved its worth. Such as File audits picking up on an oversight which could have caused an £8.5 million project to collapse to environmental audits picking up on a pollution disaster waiting to happen.

The greatest benefit I was lucky to witness, was at a manufacturing company I was auditing for ISO 14001 certification. The Company owned a large site comprised of many buildings of various ages and was adjacent to a main river. The environmental aspects review identified a need for a site drainage plan but the project would be long and costly.

During a discussion and a review of the environmental aspects a comment of  “why not involve the local university” set them on a journey resulting in a long term working relationship with the university and numerous environmental, engineering and conservation projects, culminating in the site becoming a world heritage site.

Not only had ISO 14001 improved the environmental and financial performance of the business but it has had many spin off benefits. If certification had not been the driving force the site would not have become a world heritage site.


To get the most from the management system, everyone in the organisation must be engaged with the system and see it as an essential part of daily life. Keep it straight forward and simple, using the language of the organisation and its culture.

The ISO standards are written in a translatable form of whatever language they are published to ensure translations do not alter the meaning or intent.

Too many systems are written in the language of  “ISO” which can encourage the perception of a management system which runs in parallel to the organisation and not as “The way we work” preventing people from engaging with the systems.

To drive improvement everyone has a part to play and it is essential for everyone to be fully engaged and using the management system. Every organisation is unique and it follows that the management system should also be unique.


One of the most common concerns found during audits across all the standards is the non-conformance system. Concerns are reviewed and corrective action taken, followed by what is perceived to be the correct preventive action.

However the investigation of the root cause is all too often stopped too early before the real root cause has been identified. Human error is a common “root cause” but what allowed the error to be made?

What flaw or gap in the system allowed someone to take the wrong path?

There are many management tools and techniques which can be put to use (such as 5Y, 8D, Ishikawa, turtle diagrams to name but a few) perhaps the most useful one of all it that one employed by toddlers to annoy adults… asking why, why, why, why… only when you have exhausted all the “whys” will you have arrived at the root cause and it may well be far removed from the initial non-conformance.
Disclaimer: The use of toddlers in the workplace is not advisable.