Dr. Divya Singhal
Keshav Ram Singhal
One reader raised a question - Whether Quality policy can be signed for Chairman and Managing Director by a General Manager who is not even a part of team of Directors? This question indicates the doubt about the signing of the quality policy.
Clause 5.3 of ISO 9001:2008 QMS standard mentions requirements for quality policy that mentions certain requirements to be ensured by the top management of the organization. Top management has been defined as ‘person or group of people who directs and control an organization at the highest level.’
The above clause requires top management to ensure the following:
• Quality policy is appropriate to the purpose of the organization.
• Quality policy includes a commitment to comply with requirements and continually improve the effectiveness of the quality management system.
• Quality policy provides a framework for establishing and reviewing quality objectives.
• Quality policy is communicated and understood within the organization.
• Quality policy is reviewed for continuing suitability.
What is further required (in addition to the above) with regard to the quality policy is that as a document it must be duly approved for adequacy prior to issue as per organization’s documented procedure for control of documents. In this connection requirements of clause 4.2.3 of ISO 9001:2008 QMS standard are required to be followed as quality policy is also a part of organization’s quality management system documentation.
A statement of quality policy is a part of the quality management system documentation. (please refer to clause 4.2.1 in this regard.) Accordingly, 'overall intentions and direction of an organization related to quality as formally expressed by the top management' (quality policy) may be communicated by issuing a documented statement of quality policy, which must be approved for adequacy prior to issue as per organization's documented procedure on 'control of documents'.
Here it is important to mention that ISO 9001:2008 QMS Standard does not state any requirement for signing of the quality policy by particular authority or designated personnel. People generally get confused with the meaning of the word ‘ensure’ and may think that top management formulates the quality policy and that it is a requirement for the top management to sign the quality policy.
Top management is required to ensure such a quality policy that is appropriate to the purpose of the organization, that includes a commitment to comply with requirements and continually improve the effectiveness of the quality management system, and that provides a framework for establishing and reviewing quality objectives. In most organizations, QMS documentation (including quality policy and quality objectives) are generally developed by a team of people and then approved for adequacy prior to issue as per organization’s own documented procedure on ‘control of documents’. Here it is immaterial who signs the quality policy or other documentation, while issuing QMS documentation. Important point is the documentation must be issued only after the same is approved for adequacy prior to issue as per organization’s procedure on ‘control of documents’. Different organizations may have different procedures for control of documents. Where a duly approved ‘quality policy’ or any other QMS documentation, as per the provisions of organization’s procedure on ‘control of documents’, is issued, communicated and understood within the organization, that will serve the purpose and intent of the quality management system as mentioned in ISO 9001:2008 QMS Standard. Further, we should note that top management of the organization reviews the organization’s quality management system, at planned intervals, to ensure its continuing suitability, adequacy and effectiveness. Such review must include assessing opportunities for improvement and the need for changes to the quality management system, including quality policy and quality objectives.
Relevant clauses of ISO 9001:2008 QMS Standard in this article – 4.2.1, 4.2.3, 5.3
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