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Overcoming COVID-19 travel restrictions with remote technology.

Thanks to remote technology, global certification business LRQA completed a business-critical, six-day, three-person audit for marine and offshore component and equipment business Whittaker Engineering Ltd, despite the complications imposed by COVID-19.

Two on-site auditors and one lead assessor working remotely completed the combined audit which involved a range of internationally recognised standards including the latest health and safety standard ISO 45001, environmental standard ISO 14001 and quality standard ISO 9001.

With certification a license to trade for Whittaker Engineering – which pays a key role in the North Sea upstream oil industry – it was crucial that the audit took place as scheduled and without delay.

“ISO Accreditations are an essential requirement to validate our operations and without the accreditation we would not meet the specifications of our biggest customers,” said Murray Whittaker, Director of Projects at the family-run, Stonehaven-based business. “It’s vital that our products and processes are of the highest quality – and independent certification enables us to demonstrate this clearly to the businesses we supply. We’re proud to have the LRQA logo associated with our name.

“On top of COVID-19, it’s no secret that the oil industry is going through challenging times. Not only do we need to keep our certification valid today, we need to make sure we’re fully up-to-speed and in great shape for the future.”

With meetings taking place via Microsoft Teams and interviews with staff both in the board room and across the site covering fabrication and CNC machining, a full sense of the controls and operations could be determined and assessed. Approved LRQA equipment (smartphones and 2 in 1 laptops) provided a secure and dedicated connection as well as the clients conference technology and willingness to expand the use of Microsoft Teams. This allowed the on-site assessor to relay live time activities to the off-site lead assessor, and complete further assessment in areas not fully covered by remote at this time.

LRQA and Whittaker Engineering have worked together for more than two decades and during this time have formed a strong working relationship. In recent years this has also provided great support for the development of ‘assessors under training’ (AuT) in gaining an understanding of the expectation of what it is to be an LRQA assessor in an integrated management system business.

Ron Crooks, Assessment Manager at LRQA said: “This was a successful audit and the use of the technology worked well. Many of our customers are trialling remote audits as a result of COVID-19 and the feedback we’re receiving has been very positive.”

To find out more about remote assurance and audits, please contact us.

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