COVID-19, Audits And Certification
Soil Association Certification has introduced additional protocols in light of COVID-19, to address associated risks and to help our licensees with continued certification and customer service.
We are committed to the highest levels of health and safety and have implemented processes to address all significant risks in order to protect personnel, customers and the environment, and are working strictly to government guidelines.
Organic on-site inspections
As of Wednesday 18 March, all physical inspections were suspended until further notice. We expect that this will be the situation for the next few months and have therefore set up the following alternative arrangements for inspections:
Where you currently have an inspection booked
Your inspector will be in contact with you to confirm cancellations of any arranged site or in person inspections and, will arrange the appropriate scheme self-assessment and remote audit of your business.
For inspections that are due in the coming months
Your inspector will be in contact with you to arrange the appropriate scheme self-assessment and remote audit of your business.
Not all schemes are permitting remote / desk based inspections so your certification officer will be in touch to discuss your application.
What can I expect from a self-assessment and remote audits?
You’ll be sent a self-assessment form by your inspector, to complete and return with appropriate documentation prior to your inspection. Your inspector might need to contact you for additional information, documentation or clarification before your audit.
The remote audit will be set up with technology that is appropriate for your audit, this may include skype, phone, e mail etc, and be set up for a specific time and day as per your usual Soil Association Certification audit.
During your remote audit the inspector will conduct many aspects of the inspection in a similar way to how they work usually, however there won’t be the site tour (unless the scheme requires a virtual audit).
As usual, you’ll need to provide/have available, documents or information as requested to enable the inspector to check and verify compliance to the standards.
Where the inspector isn’t able to verify compliance to standards, this will be detailed within the report and flagged for review when we are able to undertake physical inspections once again. We aim to undertake physical inspections of all sites receiving a remote audit, within 6 months of restrictions being lifted.
Inspections will be prioritised according to risk level, and focus on areas that were not able to be verified during the remote audit and self-assessment.
Communications and Updates
Our focus is, as always, to protect the health of our employees, customers and our communities.
Communication with your certification officer should remain the same and we’ll strive to continue to deliver a high level of service to clients during this challenging time. To enable this, we have equipped all our staff to be able to work from home.
Annual fee increases frozen in response to COVID-19
We have taken the decision to freeze the annual fee increase that was due to come into effect on 01 April 2020. Fees will be held at 2019 levels for a minimum of 6 months and we will review at the end of September 2020.
We remain fully committed to supporting your business and ensuring the continuation of your organic certification throughout these challenging times. If you are concerned about any aspect of your Certification please do get in contact with your certification officer who will do their best to help and support you.
We look forward to getting back to ‘normal’ as soon as we can, but in the meantime please look after yourselves and keep safe.
We‘ll continue to update our Certification News pages with any new information or guidance as it becomes available.
For more information and support for organic businesses adapting to COVID-19, visit our hub for certification clients