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Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is ISO?
  • 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.

  • What 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.

  • What 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.

  • What is OHSAS 18000?
  • The OHSAS 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.

  • Can 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.

  • How 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.