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Should I cover up or let things go for an audit?

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#1 stim

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Posted 04 November 2014 - 08:54 PM

Hello All,

 

We have an audit coming up and there are a few weak spots where production has not been complying with procedures. Since we have been having difficulties getting cooperation I am tempted to let everything be seen by the auditor in hopes that a minor will have production see the light and change their ways.

 

Should I be rushing to 'cover up' and 'hide' these known issues as some of my colleagues are want to do?

 

What have you done in the past?


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#2 ncorliss

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Posted 04 November 2014 - 09:09 PM

Personally, I think it is always best to let the operations be seen as is. Yes there is always double checking and some cleanup, but by cleaning up blatant procedure violations you'll set the expectations that you will always fix the problem. If you get caught "hiding" or "covering up", you lose credibility with your auditor and put your certification at risk. We tend to refresh the procedures and if need be, write a corrective action plan to show you have identified the problem and working to correct it. As part of the corrective action plan I would ask the question, "why are we not complying with procedure." Perhaps production found a way to complete the required task with a better / cost effective / more convenient method? Ask them why they do it a different way and if it meets all applicable quality and / or regulatory requirements, there is nothing wrong with changing the procedure to reflect current practices.


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#3 RG3

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Posted 04 November 2014 - 09:35 PM

Hi Stim,

 

   Unfortunately your situation is not unique. We all have faced this problem at one point or another (QA and Production working against each other instead of for each other). My best advice for you is to document that you've informed production management through steering team minutes, walkthrough meeting minutes, Review of the systems minutes, CAPA meeting minutes, RCA meeting minutes, document document document. Wouldn't be the first time I've heard "But you never told me" or "If you would've told me with enough time" or "Isn't this your responsibility? Why didn't it get done?" 

 

   Personally I wouldn't cover up, because that defeats the purpose of the real scope of having a GFSI certification. It's only as real as your applications. What you can do is show that you've corrected the problem since then. Most auditors will ask for something relatively recent. If he/she does decide to go further back you can show a more recent document that you have corrected the problem before the date of the audit. It will show that you are aware of the situation and have taken continuous improvements since then.


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#4 FosTerH0ME

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Posted 04 November 2014 - 09:52 PM

Hello Stim! Your struggle is not unique! I agree with the others here and will say that I would not cover it up. It seems that inevitable this ends badly and leads to headaches for you, even though the issue was one that you brought to light and one you mentioned prior to the audit. It is always best to try and present the benefits of compliance when selling a new SOP, regulation, or company policy. This will improve our image, allow us to supply a new customer, keep us from making the daily recall email...etc.

 

If you point out the issue and it is not resolved prior to the audit, you have done your part and perhaps the auditor's findings will help to bolster your argument. 

 

 

Best of luck! 


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#5 Charles.C

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Posted 05 November 2014 - 02:22 AM

Hello All,

 

We have an audit coming up and there are a few weak spots where production has not been complying with procedures. Since we have been having difficulties getting cooperation I am tempted to let everything be seen by the auditor in hopes that a minor will have production see the light and change their ways.

 

Should I be rushing to 'cover up' and 'hide' these known issues as some of my colleagues are want to do?

 

What have you done in the past?

 

Dear stim,

 

It depends, eg

 

How serious are the deficiencies ? minor = ?

 

How much of "lack of co-operation" is your fault ?

 

How much do you need yr current job ? Debts ? Dependants ? Son/daughter of the owner ?

 

Rgds / Charles.C


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Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#6 trubertq

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Posted 05 November 2014 - 09:57 AM

Sometimes you need things to be seen in the audit to get the message across that the responsibility for Food safety isn't all yours. I work with several different companies and the same things go on in each one..... certification isn't anyone's problem except QC/Technical.

 

Make sure that you have all the managers lined up to deal with the auditor for the sections they are responsible for. I have found that the prospect of having to defend their position face to face with the auditor focuses many minds.

 

If you still have time ( like a few weeks ), have an emergency meeting inviting senior management. Outline the problem areas ( keep it general no naming names), define what needs to be done, be clear about what clauses of the standard are being compromised. Ask for input from everyone and put together an action list and a timeline, and responsibility. Make sure that there is follow up and that the thing is signed off if closed out in time.

 

If you have picked up non-conformances they should be written up and responsibility and timescale allocated. If those have not been closed out then write another one and tell everyone that this WILL be seen by the auditor and everyone needs to get with the programme.

 

What is very useful in this situation too is root cause analysis. Get the Manager of the area which is non compliant to reason out why the non compliance happened.


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#7 Mr. Incognito

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Posted 05 November 2014 - 12:01 PM

I wouldn't cover anything up... I'd just pray the auditor didn't see it.


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#8 Mike Green

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Posted 05 November 2014 - 01:09 PM

I wouldn't cover anything up... I'd just pray the auditor didn't see it.

That's a much more noble way to do it...... (not as effective as a well executed cover-up though!) ha ha!

 

Seriously though- for me it's a cost/benefit analysis for the business (& yourself)(as suggested by Charles) with 'how likely is your 'cover-up' to be discovered' factored in!

 

IMEX if you aren't too confident that you will get away with it & you lose that element of trust-it will be pretty hard to get back!

 

I remember one, years ago where the auditor was going through a particular file which was let's say 'a bit light on detail' -fortunately the guy wasn't particularly well organised-so i was 'helping him find the evidence'-and I managed to pass off one checklist as six different ones by putting it back into the file each time, getting it back out again & holding it with my thumb over the date etc !!! he even commented on how well organised we were...having everything to hand!-(don't think I would even try to get away with that these days)

 

Mike


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I may sound like a complete idiot...but actually there are a couple of bits missing

#9 ncorliss

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Posted 05 November 2014 - 02:49 PM

Not knowing your specific industry, the severity of the "cover up" could be construed as fraud. Never worth it. A lot of great advice provided in the earlier posts. As mentioned, getting caught covering up kills your credibility. If you have made efforts to change, document accordingly. Someone mentioned earlier, do you rely on this job to help you make that decision? I would look at it as, how would you like the reputation of deceitful practices within the industry. I would rather tell a prospective employer your ethics led you to leave a business instead of you were fired for covering up and got caught. My old mentor taught me this decision making tree, would you be willing to defend your decision to your spouse? Would you be willing to defend your decision to your mother? Would you be willing to defend your decision in the national media? and would you be willing to defend your decision in a court of law?


Edited by ncorliss, 05 November 2014 - 02:51 PM.

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#10 stim

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Posted 05 November 2014 - 03:24 PM

Interesting thoughts. I am on the side of let things be seen as they are, and I am in favour of surprise audits. As for our 'cover ups' these are things such as make sure such and such is extra clean the audit day, make sure all allergens are organized as they should be, getting maintenance to tidy up outstanding work orders etc.

 

Nothing too major, but all the same I would like to have an auditor come in on a regular day. We have passed with flying colours in the past, so not too worried about it.


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#11 CMHeywood

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Posted 05 November 2014 - 10:07 PM

Don't cover it up - this will only get your auditor angry if he discovers it.  Don't point it out to the auditor - this will only get your management angry.  Be honest but only offer the information that the auditor requests. 

 

Get your management and production people to understand that an auditor doesn't have time to look at everything.  If an area is weak it is a potential nonconformance that could be caught on the next audit.  You need to push the people to be consistently in conformance across the board.


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#12 JGH

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Posted 06 November 2014 - 08:59 AM

As reflected by the other members on the forum, your issue is not unique.

I would not  cover it up, if a procedure isn't  being followed - find the root cause as to why!

There are some ways in which you can ensure all your  team are aware of the issues and how much this concerns you with regards to having the auditor on site.

Take the issue up with all of  your  management team, ensuring that the areas you have clearly identified could potentially become a Ncr via your auditor, whilst using your standard as your guide.

 

Record the issues, show the requirements, then record improvements made and have a plan to hand for any further requirements.

 

Then when/if the auditor does identify the issue (s) at least you have a plan of action to discuss and all of the management team are in agreement if this is also discussed with them by the auditor.

 

Good luck.


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#13 fgjuadi

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Posted 06 November 2014 - 04:12 PM

It depends on what the company thinks your job is....

 

I've worked at places who thought it was my responsibility to "pass an audit", which to them meant stretching the boundaries of the English language and the standards in order to justify their bad practices.

They did not want to correct things I had pressed in meetings, etc. 

 

I didn't hide anything during that audit, instead I purposefully asked questions that made them dig deeper, including some things I thought were serious food safety issues (no cleaning after dichlorvous fogging, evidence of pests, etc) .  They did not achieve certification and I was promptly fired (Ed note: It was mutual, I got sweet severance, and I got say "I've been fired from better jobs than this", so totally worth it.   I get fired for my mouth a lot)  .  According to my amigos still working there, they have not improved.  So if your goal is to make safer food, or "wake them up", it's gonna depend on the "them".  But you didn't want to work for someone who allows food safety is to be in danger and doesn't respect you anyway, right?

 

I'm working at a place now that genuinely has a strong commitment to food safety, and when we do have minors, I'm more "pray the auditor doesn't see it".  It's nothing major or dangerous to a consumer, but there's no reason the crew can't do it (Hellooooo, 18 in perimeter line.)  I don't open more than I have to. 


Edited by magenta_majors, 06 November 2014 - 04:13 PM.

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#14 fgjuadi

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Posted 06 November 2014 - 04:12 PM

It depends on what the company thinks your job is....

 

I've worked at places who thought it was my responsibility to "pass an audit", which to them meant stretching the boundaries of the English language and the standards in order to justify their bad practices.

They did not want to correct things I had pressed in meetings, etc. 

 

I didn't hide anything during that audit, instead I purposefully asked questions that made them dig deeper, including some things I thought were serious food safety issues (no cleaning after dichlorvous fogging, evidence of pests, etc) .  They did not achieve certification and I was promptly fired (Ed note: It was mutual, I got sweet severance, and I got say "I've been fired from better jobs than this", so totally worth it)  .  According to my amigos still working there, they have not improved.  So if your goal is to make safer food, or "wake them up", it's gonna depend on the "them".  But you didn't want to work for someone who allows food safety is to be in danger and doesn't respect you anyway, right?

 

I'm working at a place now that genuinely has a strong commitment to food safety, and when we do have minors, I'm more "pray the auditor doesn't see it".  It's nothing major or dangerous to a consumer, but there's no reason the crew can't do it (Hellooooo, 18 in perimeter line.)  I don't open more than I have to. 


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