A corrective action is realising and defining a problem, containing the problem, determing its cause and taking appropriate action to prevent it happening again.
A Corrective Action is re-active
- deals with the problem AFTER the event. Corrects it.
A Preventive Action is pro-active
- deals with the problem BEFORE it happens. Prevents it.
A corrective action should be considered as a reactive response to a problem since it is taken when a non-conformance is detected (for example, a customer complaint).
The following steps will help you create a corrective action process:
If necessary, provide an emergency response action to protect the customer and initiate the process.
Describe the internal/external customer problem by identifying what is wrong and detail the problem in quantifiable terms Define, verify and implement the interim containment action to isolate the effects of the problem from any internal/external customer until permanent corrective actions (PCA) are implemented. Validate the effectiveness of the containment actions.
Our Corrective Action Procedure for ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 are proven to work.
An interim containment action is kept in place until a verified permanent corrective action can be implemented. In some cases, the interim containment action may be the same as or similar to the emergency response action. However, an emergency response action is implemented with minimal supporting data. An interim containment action provides more opportunity for investigation.
Any interim containment action you implement must protect the customer from the problem without the introduction any new problems. Also, a single interim containment action may not be enough. You may need to implement more than one interim containment action to fully protect the customer.
An interim containment action can be any action that protects the customer from the problem. However, before you implement an interim containment action, you need to verify that the interim containment action will work. To verify the interim containment action:
Methods of verification may include:
Conduct trial runs whenever possible. However, in some situations, your verification may simply be a matter of common sense. For example, if an interim containment action involves stopping the shipment of all products, you can be sure that customers will stop experiencing the problem.
You and your team must consider all of the trade-offs connected to your interim containment action. An important part of implementing an interim containment action is planning how you will implement the action.
To implement an interim containment action, follow this management cycle:
Isolate and verify the root-cause by testing each possible cause against the problem description and test data. Also isolate and verify the place in the process where the effect of the root-cause should have been detected and contained (escape point).
The problem description should describe the problems in terms of what, where, when, and how big. The description should contain facts; such as observations and documentary evidence and not assumptions. All information must be gathered before identifying the root-cause can begin. Make sure both of the above factors are true before you move to the next step. Consider any new information that the team may have gathered since completing the initial problem description.
Once you have reviewed the problem description, you can begin a comparative analysis. A comparative analysis will help you identify relevant changes in a change-induced situation. Then you can reduce the number of possibilities that you must consider to determine root-cause.
Ask yourself; what is unique, peculiar, different, or unusual about the symptoms?
Consider each difference you listed, and look for changes, ask yourself:
If the problem is change-induced, the root-cause must be the result of a change relative to one or more of the identified changes. It is important to remember that you have not yet moved from the ‘observations’ phase of the process. Any information you develop during the comparative analysis must be fact based, not opinion based and must be true only for the symptoms information. Do not rule out any facts that might be valid answers. If it is a fact and it answers the question, write it down.
Now that you have narrowed down the possible root-causes, you need to develop theories about how the problem occurred. Theories are statements that describe how a change may have created the problem.
If a theory explains the problem, but lacks information necessary to explain why it happened, gather more data:
The root-cause must explain all known data. Any theories that pass the trial run are the most likely causes. If only one theory passes the trial run then verify this theory as the root-cause. However, more than one theory may pass the trial run. In those cases (and when practical and feasible), collect and analyze any missing data for uncertain theories and re-examine information to resolve uncertainties.
If additional information reveals that a theory cannot fully explain why the problem happened eliminate it from consideration. If it is not feasible to gather and evaluate additional information, try to verify each remaining theory. Start verification with the theory that best explains the symptoms.
Once you have determined the most likely cause(s), verify that it actually causes the problem. Verification is the proof you need to confirm that you have identified the root-cause. Verification is done passively and actively. Passive verification is done by observation:
Active verification is done by manipulating the root-cause variable:
After you have determined and verified the root-cause, you need to determine the escape point of the problem for the corrective action process. An escape point is the point closest to the root-cause at which the problem could have been detected but was not.
A control system is a system deployed to monitor the product/process and ensure compliance to quality requirements. A control system consists of responsibilities, procedures, and resources. A control point is a location within the control system at which the product/process is checked for compliance to the quality standards.
A product or process may have more than one control point within the system. When you identify the escape point, you can work to improve or establish a system to ensure that if problems occur, they will not go undetected.
To understand how the problem escaped and to identify the escape point:
If none exists, the development of a new control system must be considered as part of the problem solution. If a control system currently exists:
If the control system is not capable, the development of an improved system must be part of the problem solution. If the control point is capable of detecting the problem, then the control point is the verified escape point. Choose and verify permanent corrective actions for the root-cause and the escape point.
Select the best permanent corrective action to remove the root-cause and select the best permanent corrective action to eliminate the escape point. Verify that both decisions will be successful when implemented without causing undesirable effects.
Steps for permanent corrective actions (PCA) selection:
Modify the necessary systems, policies, practices and procedures to prevent recurrence of this problem and similar ones.
Plan and implement selected permanent corrective actions. Remove the interim containment action and monitor the long-term results. Steps for PCA implementation:
Make recommendations for systemic improvements as necessary:
Serious consequences may occur when the underlying symptoms are not addressed, when the quick fix is accepted as a final, permanent solution. Excessive reliance on containment or emergency response action will create a repeating cycle. Problem containment is an addiction that will only get worse until root-causes are found and addressed.
ISO 9001 Clauses - ACT
Updated: 19th October 2020
Author: Richard Keen
Richard is our Compliance Director, responsible for content & product development.
But most importantly he is ISO's biggest fanboy and a true evangelist of the standards.
Learn more about Richard
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Non-conformity & Corrective Action Procedure
The purpose of this procedure is to establish the process for identifying, documenting and analyzing non-conformities and mitigating their impacts by implementing appropriate corrective actions. Your organization’s quality management system is geared toward the proactive elimination of actual and potential deficiencies.
Non-conformities in products, services, processes and our management system are investigated and action implemented to prevent their occurrence.
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Non-conformity & Corrective Action Procedure
The purpose of this procedure is to establish the process for identifying, documenting and analyzing non-conformities and mitigating their impacts by implementing appropriate corrective actions. Your organization’s environmental management system is geared toward the proactive elimination of actual and potential deficiencies.
Non-conformity & Corrective Action Procedure
The purpose of this procedure is to establish the process for identifying, documenting and analyzing nonconformities and implementing appropriate corrective action(s). Your organization’s management system is geared toward the proactive elimination of actual and potential failures.
Nonconformities arising from complaints, product and service outputs, and management system processes are investigated and action implemented to prevent their occurrence.
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