In recent weeks, many of our clients have asked whether there are any ISO standards that will help them navigate through the corona crisis. The bad news: there are no ISO standards that specifically address the current pandemic of COVID-19 infections. The good news: there are plenty of other standards and certifications that can serve as benchmarks. In this article, we will take you through some of the main ones.
What started as a health crisis has developed into a real crisis of confidence in recent weeks. In order to be successful, businesses need to convince:
- The authorities that they can operate safely and without spreading the corona virus
- Their employees that they do not risk their lives by coming to the workplace
- Their customers that they can rely on them without health risks or supply issues
Standards can play a crucial role in gaining this trust: they can specify requirements that organizations must comply with in order to ensure they can operate in a safe and hygienic way.
However, international standards typically go through a long phase of consensus-building and development. ISO standards, for example, take years to develop. This is not a bad thing: it is precisely because they are the result of a multi-stakeholder process that they are accepted so broadly.
In order to deal with the current pandemic, however, we need a more agile standardization process. DQS is contributing to this process by developing auditable protocols for various industry sectors. In this article, we will provide an overview of available standards and initiatives.
Existing ISO Standards for dealing with COVID-19
While there are no ISO standards that specifically tell organizations how to prevent COVID-19 infections or how to prepare for a pandemic, there are standards that will help businesses prepare for crises and disruptions.
The most popular of these is ISO 22301, which specifies requirements for business continuity management systems. A business continuity management system (BCM) will help you prepare for incidents and crises, respond swiftly and appropriately, and reduce downtime and impact to a minimum. To learn more about this standard, please visit our ISO 22301 information page.
However, ISO 22301 is not the only standard that helps you. Other standards of the same family focus on organizational resilience (ISO 22316), how to conduct a business impact assessment (ISO/TS 22317), guidelines for continuity in the supply chain (ISO/TS 22318), the human factor in business continuity (ISO/TS 22330) and the strategic aspect (ISO/TS 22331).
Taken together, this series of standards helps organizations to prepare for crises, develop response plans, evaluate the impacts, minimize the downtime and optimize recovery. Needless to say, all of these aspects are of tremendous value during a pandemic such as COVID-19, where lockdowns and supply chain disruptions continue to be a threat.
New Corona Prevention & Preparedness Standards and Initiatives
In the past few weeks, hundreds of new guidelines have been published. Most of them have been compiled by local and national governments, health departments, supranational organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), universities and industry associations.
While these guidelines do an excellent job at explaining how businesses can resume their operations, most of them are not auditable: they are not designed to serve as a basis for audits and inspections.
To fill this need and to give businesses the possibility to demonstrate the implementation of preventative measures, DQS has developed a number of auditable protocols and certification solutions.
- Pandemics Due Diligence: In the context of pandemics, epidemics and other health crises, due diligence is taking every reasonable precaution to avoid causing harm to the health of employees, customers, business partners and the general public. It also includes making sure that your business is prepared and can be a reliable partner. Our self-assessment and audit enable you to evaluate your due diligence measures and get a third-party confirmation of their effectiveness.
- Hygiene & Disinfection Standard: Based on WHO Guidelines, we have developed a Hygiene Management System Standard that enables businesses to approach hygiene and disinfection in a systematic manner. The standard comes with credible third-party certification. It is designed to be applicable to organizations of all types and sizes.
- Sector-specific Certification: For certain industry sectors, like hospitality and tourism, more specific requirements are available. Please consult our information page.
The DQS Group is a globally represented audit and certification body with headquarters in Frankfurt. With over thirty years of experience and a global network of auditors, we are your partner to help you gain and maintain trust. Contact us to discuss your project!