ISO 3834 Company Certification – Complaints and Appeals

A company certification scheme is only as good as the credibility and reputation of the certification scheme. SAIW Certification is committed to operating a scheme which upholds a high standard for the manufacture of fusion welded products.

Gaining ISO 3834 company certification is a statement that the fabricator has a system in place which will allow the manufacturer to produce a welded product to an appropriate standard and conforms to the standards to which the product is manufactured.

There is therefore an expectation that the quality of product produced is at a satisfactory level and that public safety is upheld as per the requirements of the Pressure Equipment Regulations and Occupational Health and Safety Act of South Africa. SAIW Certification operates the IIW Manufacturer Certification Scheme in accordance to the requirements of ISO 17021. When SAIW Certification undertakes an audit of a company, only a sample of the work is checked to confirm compliance with the requirements of the standard. It is practically not possible to verify that all the work that the company undertakes complies with the requirements of the standard. In order to maintain a scheme with credibility and a positive reputation, and conform to the requirements of ISO 17021, it is required that there is a channel whereby complaints from the public and users of the manufactured products can raise their concerns with respect to potential noncompliance to the required standards.

SAIW Certification has been authorised by the IIW as the Authorised National Body for Company Certification (ANBCC) in South Africa. The IIW Manufacturer Certification Scheme operated by SAIW Certification in South Africa is overseen by the Welding Fabricator Board which is composed of end users, engineering consultants, manufacturers and other interested parties. The Welding Fabricator Board is an organ of SAIW Certification and reports to the SAIW Certification Governing Board.

SAIW Certification has procedures to deal with complaints and appeals as per the requirements of ISO 17021. This Complaints and Appeals procedure (GOP04) is available on the SAIW Certification website by following Certifications and Appeals and Complaints tabs on the website for further detail.

A complaint is defined as: A written submission sent to SAIW Certification Secretariat, either via e-mail or registered post, whereby a Complainant officially lodges a complaint in respect of the competence, integrity or quality of work of any Certified Company.

An appeal is defined as: A written request made by any interested party for reconsideration of any substantive decision made as a result of a Complaint, an Inquiry Panel or other body of SAIW Certification.

On receipt of a complaint, SAIW Certification is obliged to acknowledge receipt of the complaint in writing within 15 working days and shall also inform the respondent of the complaint. Following the notification of the complaint, the
Respondent shall be required, within 20 working days of the notice, to submit a written response to SAIW Certification Secretariat setting out the Respondent’s point of view with respect to the complaint.

SAIW Certification will appoint a Complaints Panel, consisting of at least 2 members from the Welding Fabricator Board to consider the complaint.

The Complaints Panel will decide if the complaint has no merit in which case it will be dismissed; or the complaint has merit; or the Complaint Panel is not in a position to make a decision and further investigation is required. In the latter case, the Complaints Panel will recommend to the Welding Fabricator Board that an Inquiry Panel of no less than 3 persons is appointed to conduct an in-depth investigation into the complaint. Should any person or entity be aggrieved by the decision of the Complaints Panel, that person or entity may send a written request to SAIW Certification for an Inquiry Panel to be appointed to consider the Complaint.

The Inquiry Panel is obliged to consider the Complaint in a manner that is fair and reasonable in the circumstances, taking into account the values of openness, transparency and accountability. The Complainant and Respondent (or their representatives) shall both be given the opportunity to present their evidence to the Inquiry Panel and call witnesses, ask questions or cross examine as necessary. The Inquiry Panel shall make a finding that either the Complaint is valid or not. In the case of the complaint being invalid, it shall be dismissed. Where the complaint is found to be valid, the Inquiry Panel will recommend appropriate sanction to the Welding Fabricator Board.

The Certification Agreement between SAIW Certification and the Manufacturer provides for 3 scenarios where the Manufacturer has not complied with the requirements of the scheme:

a) The Manufacturer may opt to renounce their certification in which case the certification agreement is terminated.

b) The Welding Fabricator board may suspend the Manufacturer’s certification for a period of time until the reasons for suspension have been corrected and certification can be re-instated.

c) The Welding Fabricator board may revoke the Manufacturer’s certification if it is deemed that the cause is of a serious nature.

Where a Manufacturer is aggrieved by the decision of the Inquiry Panel, the Manufacturer may lodge an application for Appeal as per the procedure. An Appeals Panel will be appointed by the Welding Fabricator Board to consider the
matter.

Legal representation is not allowed in the SAIW Certification Complaint hearing, Inquiry hearing or the Appeals hearing as these are dealt with as internal issues. However, the Appeals panel will have the discretion to allow either party legal representation in cases that are of a very serious or complex nature. Parties do have the opportunity to use the legal justice system, however, it is recommended that the internal procedure is followed to its conclusion.

The background to the complaints and appeals processes are that SAIW Certification must uphold the standards of a body which is certifying companies giving them credibility in the field of manufacturing fusion welded products.

It is attesting to the ethics and quality of companies. Consequences for certified companies breaching the standards of the ISO 3834 certification scheme can be severe. At the same time, the certification body has to be fair and transparent.

Wherever needed, the good practices that are expected of a certification body are applied so, for example, no member of the panel may have a conflict of interest in relation to a complaint and the organizations involved. Impartiality has to be seen as well as practiced.

SAIW Certification encourages all parties to submit a written complaint where they believe that the principles of the certification scheme have not been upheld such that the integrity, credibility and reputation of the IIW Manufacturer Certification Scheme can be maintained. SAIW Certification cannot act on cases of hearsay, but requires evidence of non-compliance that can be thoroughly investigated and followed-up on.

All enquiries in this regard should be submitted to Mr Herman Potgieter who is the Secretariat for the Welding Fabricator Board and CEO of SAIW Certification.