Frequently Asked Questions
ISO refers to the "International Organization
for Standardization". (It is also derived from the Greek "isos"
meaning equal). It is a federation of national standards bodies that
get together to further the development of internationally recognized
standards. Instead of each nation having their own standard for say,
photographic film or management systems, each participating country
recognizes that in the interests of international trade it would be
better if there were one accepted international standard than multiple
conflicting national standards.
is ISO 9000?
ISO 9000:2000 is a Quality Management System
standard that lays out a set of generic requirements for managing an
organizations quality. Rather than having no control over your processes
and letting the chips fall where they may, the standard requires that
you can demonstrate a level of control over your inputs, processes and
outputs. How an organization achieves this control is left entirely
up to them.
is ISO 14000?
ISO 14000 is similar in structure to the
ISO 9000 standard only its focus is on an organizations environmental
management system. Generally speaking, the 14000 requires that you take
an active approach to being aware of existing or potential environmental
impacts of your organizations activities and that you have a structured
and defined approach to managing your environmental aspects.
is OHSAS 18000?
18000 is a management system standard focusing on an organizations Occupational
Health and Safety management system. It is not an "ISO" standard
at this time, however, it is structured to be compatible with the ISO
9000 and ISO 14000.
all three of these standards be implemented as a whole?
Yes, due to the overlapping elements in
each of these standards (i.e. Internal Audit, Management Review, Policy
Statements, Corrective and Preventive Action processes, etc.) with careful
planning an oganization can effectively integrate all three standards
into its operations without tripling the effort.
do you best interpret a clause as it might apply to your organization?
If you find yourself getting bogged down
by the wording of a specific clause your organization is trying to address,
step back and ask yourself these questions:
What is the intent of this clause?
Is it relevant to my organization?
What problems/mistakes is it meant to prevent?
What controls/benefits is it trying to promote?
Are we currently doing anything that may be related to this clause?
By asking yourself these questions and having a solid understanding
of your processes and the ISO standard, how the clause might be addressed
within your organization should become clearer.
- Is it difficult to comply with these standards?
No. An organization will already comply
to some degree just by virtue of being in business. The clauses of the standards are written with the principles of good business practices in mind. It is poor interpretation and application of the requirements of the standards that increase difficulty. Complying with the standards
raises the level of communication and coordination within an organization
and reduces the opportunity for mistakes and miscommunication. Effectively
implemented they help "organize the organization". If you decide to seek outside help, It is important that the external consultant has experience in designing, developing implementing and managing management systems themselves.
ISO management systems were never meant to be stand alone entities.
The most effectively implemented systems integrate seamlessly with other
organizational processes and systems.