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Understanding ISO 9001:2015

7.1.4   Environment for the operation of processes  

The term environment in this context refers to the work environment and is used to describe the set of conditionsin which employees perform their work and under which products and services are produced. Conditions can include physical, social, psychological and environmental factors (such as temperature, lighting, recognition schemes, social and occupational stress, ergonomics, etc). It can also relate to conditions on how work is actually done (complex, repetitive, creative, interactive, team, etc.) in work processes and procedures.  


Specific environmental conditions for product or services (e.g. at a meat packaging plant or delivery of perishable product) will be discussed later under clause 8.5.4 preservation. 


The organization should provide and manage a suitable work environment to achieve and maintain the sustained success of the organization and the competitiveness of its products.  


A risk assessment should be done of the facility work environment conditions to identify and control the risks related to their impact on: 


·         Product & service quality,  

·         Operation of business & qms processes,  

·         Health & safety of employees.  


This should be part of the risk management process (see clause 6.1).  

These risks will serve as inputs to the planning of controls of the work environment. The risk assessment should also include the impact of noncompliance with regulatory requirements. 

Suitable work environment conditions should include consideration of ergonomics; nondiscriminatory, calm, friendly and non-confrontational; workplace stress; health and safety; etc. These factors and related controls are discussed in detail in my eBook. 

Maintenance of the work environment conditions would require many of the infrastructure and people resource maintenance activities already discussed in the previous sections. Additionally it would require periodic checks by responsible personnel such as an H&S committee for compliance to any standards and internal criteria established by the organization for workplace conditions it will operate under, e.g. compliance to temperature, lighting & ventilation criteria & settings. Many of these conditions could be managed through computerized controls.  

The work environment should encourage productivity, creativity and well-being for the people who are working in or visiting the organization's premises (e.g. customers, suppliers, and partners). At the same time, the organization should ensure that its work environment complies with applicable statutory and regulatory requirements and addresses applicable standards (such as those for environmental and occupational health and safety management).  

Again these are huge topics by themselves with plenty of standards and existence of expert literature which goes far beyond what is expected from this ISO 9001 standard. Apply the laundry list of factors listed in my eBook as applicable in keeping with the size, nature of business, products & services, risk and other considerations. The focus should be on employee welfare and safety, effective operation of QMS processes and product conformity. 

This article is an extract from my eCourse “Understanding ISO 9001:2015”. The rest of the article on this clause discusses in detail the various  types of work environmental conditions an organization may be faced with and how to address them as per the requirements of clause 7.1.4.


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