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THE AUDIT PROCESS

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A TfS audit is an on-site examination of a company’s business sites and practices.

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The scope of a TfS audit typically covers a single or combined business location such as a production site, a warehouse, or an office building.

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Within the TfS audit process the supplier’s sustainability performance is verified against a defined set of audit criteria on management, environment, health & safety, labor & human rights, and governance issues.

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For the audit to comply with TfS standards it must be conducted by pre-approved audit firms. The list of pre-approved audit firms can be found here.

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The audit reports are shared between the supplier and all TfS member companies. The auditors will send the audit report to the TfS Office to be uploaded to a web-based platform accessible by all TfS members.

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Overview of Audit Criteria

Management in Charge

Policy & Continual Improvement

Training

Business Partners

Environmental Compliance

Waste

Emissions to Air and Climate Change

Water and Wastewater

Energy

Land Use and Biodiversity

Soil and Groundwater

Product Safety

Transportation Safety

Process Safety and Storage

Occupational Health and Safety

Emergency Preparedness

Medical Care

Security

Child Labor

Forced and Compulsory Labor

Working Hours

Minimum Wages

Freedom of Association

Discrimination

Special Work Contracts

Facilities & Dormitories

Business Integrity

Privacy and Intellectual Property

Risk Area: Conflict Minerals

Risk Area: Animal Care

Fair Competition

Disciplinary and Complaint Procedures

TfS Audit Preparation Process

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Follow-Up Actions and Timelines

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Revised TfS Audit Process

The revised TfS Audit process is explained in the video.

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TfS SUPPLIER AUDITS – THIRD PARTY QUALIFIED AUDITORS

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The TfS audit will be performed by sustainability auditors from a pre-approved auditor pool of professional and independent audit firms.

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The auditor qualification is based on three main steps.

1.

Qualification of Audit Firms
  • Audit firms that have proven records of established internal controls and quality management are invited to a Request for Proposal process.
  • The final decision on whether an audit firm will be accepted or not rests with the TfS Steering Committee.
  • Audit firms that have passed the pre-qualification process will be announced here.

2.

Evaluation of Auditor Profiles
  • Audit firms that have successfully passed the application process can nominate auditors for the TfS pre-approved auditor pool.
  • TfS audits require auditors to prove competencies and experience in a whole range of sustainability issues.
  • To maintain continuously high audit standards, TfS has developed a set of reference criteria that serves as a basis for approving auditors before working on behalf of TfS.

3.

Witness Audits
  • On a random sample basis, TfS members will conduct witness audits.
  • This means that audits will be accompanied by experienced staff assigned by the individual TfS member.
  • The witness auditors will report their findings to the TfS Office which will establish relevant statistics and information for an annual review of the auditor performance and the auditor pool.

Audit Companies & Contacts

TfS Audits are conducted by the following pre-approved audit companies: DQS, ERM, Intertek, SGS. You can select the audit company of your choice. These audit companies all operate globally and can conduct an audit in any country, subject to availability. In order to schedule your TfS Audit, you can contact the Global Account Managers under ‘Main Contacts’ or the local office indicated in your country, where available. If your country or regional contact is not listed below, please approach the ‘Main Contacts’ of the audit companies to schedule your audit. All audit company contacts are provided below.

Intertek

Kennis Cheng

Phone: +852 3760 6341

SGS

Alexander Lobko

Phone: +49 40 30101 211

DQS Group

Altan Dayankac

Phone: +49 40 27811634
Mobile: +49 160 90704186

ERM

Clemens Frassine

Phone: +49 (0) 6102 206 320
Mobile: +49 (0)151 571 297 18

Intertek

Ana Neves

Phone: +55 (0)11 5015 4251

SGS

Ana Psimoes

Phone: ( +55) 11 3883 8800 ext. 8281

DQS Group

Guilherme Barros

Phone: +55 (0)11 5696 5925

Intertek

Amy RZ Liu (South China)

Phone: +86 0769 23133810

Daphne Shen (North China)

Phone: +86 21 53397871

SGS

Stella Xia

Phone: ( +86) 512 62992793

DQS Asia Pacific Management System Certification Co., Ltd.

Anne Ding (China)

Phone (North China): +86 (0)21 3222 1251
Phone (South China): +86 (0)20 8751 2423

DQS Management Systems Solutions (HK), Ltd.

Phyllis Yiu (Hong Kong)

Phone: +852 37522297
Mobile: +86 18717733306

ERM

Please use the main contact

Intertek

Sivasundara Ganesan

Phone: +91 421 4306732

SGS

Ruchi Prakash

Phone: +91 (0)124 6776 340
Mobile: +91 (0)991 0887 330

DQS Group

Dwarakanath Kaiwar

Phone: +91 (0)80 6661 6500 (Board)

ERM

Please use the main contact

Intertek

Alexey Filippov

Phone: +7 (0)495 933 8545

SGS

Tatiana Babenko

Phone: (+7) 495 775 4455

DQS Group

Michael Zalunaev

Phone: +7 (0)961 153 1894

ERM

Please use the main contact

ERM

Please use the main contact

Intertek

Jason Devitt

Office: +1 616 656 0633

SGS

Gennie Sanchez

Office: (+1) 862 200 4441

DQS

Candane Orbaugh

Office: (+1) 856 728 5557

Refer to Main Contacts tab

SHARING OF AUDIT RESULTS

The Audit Findings Will Be Documented in a Standardized Report

The audit report will consist of:

The company profile contains basic information about your firm such as its size, revenue, operating countries, etc. Confidential data like customers or prices will not be disclosed.

While positive findings highlight achievements with regard to sustainability, negative findings may be minor, major or critical for which corrective actions must be defined.

The Audit Guidance and Reporting Template includes the auditor’s remarks for each audit question.

The audit Corrective Action Plan contains all corrective actions (incl. deadlines) that the supplier and the auditor have agreed on to remedy the negative audit findings.

The Audit Sharing Process

The success for the supplier and the TfS audit program depends on sharing the supplier’s audit report.

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The auditor will finalize the audit report and provide it to the supplier no later than 10 working days after completion of the audit.

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The supplier may formally comment on the audit observations and findings within a 10 working day period.

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After the comment period, the auditor will send the audit report to the TfS Office. As defined in the data sharing agreement the supplier signed, the audit report will be uploaded to a web-based platform where it can be accessed by all TfS members.

An audit for one is an audit for all

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Advantages of Sharing the TfS Audit Report

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Lower audit costs and less time spent on audits since reduntant audits are usually avoided.

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Less time spent responding to multiple customer requests.

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Satisfy customer requirements and expectations.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The TfS Audit Program facilitates improvement of the sustainability performance within the supply chains of the chemical industry. Audit reports generated within the TfS Audit Program create transparency through in-depth examinations of suppliers’ sites and operations. A TfS Audit can neither be passed nor failed, but it highlights areas of improvement, thus, enabling interaction between customers and suppliers in an efficient and effective way. Efficiency is increased by sharing TfS Audit reports and other recognized audit schemes among TfS Members. Effectiveness is ensured by maintaining a questionnaire that is covering all relevant CSR topics.

The audit program is based on good practices and builds on reference frameworks such as the United Nations Global Compact, the Responsible Care Charter, and the Conventions of the International Labor Organization. Please have a look at the online training tools in different languages provided on the webpage.

Suppliers are requested to meet certain standards and continuously improve in the following areas:

• Management: Management in charge, policies, continuous improvement, management systems,  risk assessment training

• Environment: Environmental compliance, waste, air emissions, climate change, water and roundwater, wastewater, energy, nuisance (noise & odor), land use & biodiversity, soil, hazardous chemicals

• Health & Safety: health & safety compliance, product safety, transport safety, process safety & storage, occupational health & safety, emergency preparedness, medical care, security, hygienic facilities

• Labor & Human Rights: labor & human rights compliance, child labor, forced & compulsory labor, working hours, minimum wages, freedom of association, discrimination, special work contracts

• Ethics and Governance: supplier standards, memberships, business integrity, privacy & intellectual property, fair completion, disciplinary & compliant procedures

Only pre-approved audit firms are allowed to perform a TfS audit. Audit firms should meet specific criteria such as quality management, adequate auditor trainings and availability of auditors in key markets. Only auditors with an appropriate level of industry knowledge, audit experience as well as technical and language skills are pre-approved to perform TfS audits.

There are several quality assurance mechanisms that assure consistent and high quality audits, for example, witness auditors evaluate the audit process against pre-defined criteria. That means, experts of TfS members accompany auditors on a sample basis and evaluate the auditor’s competence and the audit process.

A TfS audit must be conducted by pre-approved auditors only. The pre-approval process shall ensure that the audit firm has adequate quality management and training procedures in place. Also, the auditors must have the required competences, skills, and experience to consistently perform high quality audits. To date, four audit firms have been approved by TfS. The list of pre-approved audit firms is published on the TfS webpage: www.tfs-initiative.com./audit-contacts/
All auditors are fluent in the local language and in English. They are also familiar with local law and culture. If an auditor does not speak the local language, the audit firm will provide a translator to accompany the auditor.
The TfS member company will reach out to a supplier if a sustainability audit is expected. A TfS member invitation is required for a company to participate in a TfS audit. The supplier will find all relevant information about TfS and the audit process on the TfS website – including an online training program. The supplier can select and contact an audit firm from the list of pre-approved audit firms. Pre-approved auditors will provide further guidance and information on the preparation for a TfS audit.
An audit in the frame of the Together for Sustainability Initiative takes about one to three days. An audit may be performed by either one or two auditors. The audit duration will be reduced accordingly. Please also note that there are additional factors that influence the audit duration (e.g. high low risk products/ processes, high/low complexity, (no) on-site production). For further guidance, see audit program section 4.3, page 7.
Objective evidence can be taken from visual observations (e.g. pictures taken during the on-site visit), information collected during interviews and/or document review. The auditor should retain copies of the documented evidence (hardcopy or electronic version) and/or pictures taken.
The Corrective Action Plan (CAP) must be outlined at the end of the audit. No later than ten days after the audit, the auditor will send the audit report including the CAP to the supplier. After receiving the audit report from the audit firm the supplier has ten working days to review the report. In case of questions, the supplier is required to contact the audit leading company. After the comment period of ten days, the audit company will send the audit report to the TfS Office for quality review before it is shared among TfS members.
It is the responsibility of the supplier to implement the Corrective Action Plan (CAP) and to report to the TfS members as part of the existing business relationship about the progress made against the individually defined corrective actions. Suppliers are expected to remediate all audit findings as soon as possible. The closure of major and critical findings shall be validated with a follow-up audit which has to be signed by the audit company who send it back to the TfS office. The follow-up audit shall take place within twelve months if not defined differently in the CAP.
It is the responsibility of the supplier to develop a Corrective Action Plan based on the findings documented in the audit report. Options for mitigation of minor and major findings may have been discussed already during the closing meeting. At the end of the meeting, all issues should be clearly described and understood.
Required improvements cannot be specified universally. They are always highly context and supplier specific. Improvements could be, for example, establishing a new company policy and training employees accordingly or providing personal protective equipment to employees.

The auditor will finalize the audit report and provide it to the supplier no later than ten working days after completion of the audit.

The supplier may formally comment on the audit observations and findings within a ten-day working day period.
After  the  comment  period, the  auditor  will  send  the  audit  report  to  the  TfS Office for quality review before it is shared among TfS members.

The validity of a TfS audit depends on the audit results:
• No or minor findings: TfS audit report is valid for 36 months
• Minor findings: expected to be closed within twelve months
• Minor / major / critical findings: set-up of a Corrective Action Plan required
• Major / critical findings: Follow-up audit within 12 months required

Depending on the results of the follow-up audit, a re-audit may be required. The re-Audit shall be conducted after twelve months unless specified differently in the CAP.

Each TfS member determines individually whether an audit is required or not. Suppliers are asked to discuss and agree on the necessity of an audit with the associated TfS member.
The audit costs depend on various factors, e.g. country, supplier factory size, travel expenses.
A witness audit is a regular TfS audit that will be accompanied by experienced staff assigned by the individual TfS member. Witness auditors evaluate the audit process against pre-defined criteria. Therefore, experts from a TfS company join auditors on a sample basis and evaluate the auditor’s competence and the audit process. There are no extra costs added or caused by the witness auditor.
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