The 6 worst mistakes we’ve seen in supplier reports

Failed sign

We track thousands of certificates for our clients and have seen quite a few bad quality documents. Had an absolute classic one a few days ago, so I thought I’d list six of the worst mistakes we’ve seen.

Do you recognise them? Do you have any horror stories?

No date

This was the recent classic. Could not believe how bad it was. A new supplier submitted a compliance certificate with no date. We’ve seen other suppliers simply state the month on a form; no day and no year, but a compliance certificate with absolutely no date was a new one. It was useless.

Benchmark: List the dates(s) the work was executed as well as the date the certificate is issued. If appropriate, include the next review date.

No test results

To make matters worse, this new supplier, on the same certificate, left out the test results. Yet another certificate they submitted simply had a tick in a column that was supposed to display trip time in milliseconds. This organisation cannot even complete their own certificates correctly! If there was a fatality, their records could not demonstrate that the items were tested properly – so our client is looking for a new supplier.

Benchmark: (1)Where tests are carried out, show the results of the test in the correct units. (2) Show the compliance range. Not much use listing the temperature as 3.4 degrees if the compliance range is -2 to 3 degrees.

No Site Address

One of our clients has a fairly large property portfolio and one supplier continuously submits their reports with just the suburb as the site address. My client has no way of telling which property the report is for and wastes time asking for the report to be reissued with the full address. Our client is now looking for an alternative supplier.

Benchmark: Show full site address.

Burying critical information within boilerplate text

For a lot of longer reports we see, the bulk of the report is just standard boilerplate text. One 95 page report had 89 pages of boilerplate text! The best reports we’ve seen separate out the site-specific information and include it in the first section.

Benchmark: Put all the critical audit information in the first section i.e. site details, findings, conclusion, lists of corrective actions, lists or preventative actions etc. Add the boilerplate text as an appendix.

If something fails, what action was taken?

We see this mistake time and time again. If an item fails a test, our clients need to know if it was repaired, removed from site or destroyed. Also, if the item was repaired, the re-test results need to be provided.

Benchmark: Include “Actions taken” on reports.

Forms not completed correctly

This happens so often that I wasn’t too sure about including it in the list.

  • PASS/FAIL compliance statement not ticked and signed
  • Technician details not filled in
  • 6 monthly tests not carried out as part of annual tests
  • Asset lists not provided
  • etc

We find out that forms are not filled in correctly because the forms are badly designed; users haven’t been trained how to fill them in correctly; they are too general with too many fields on one page, most of which are irrelevant; or the flow just doesn’t fit how a person does the job. Forms should help a person complete them, not make them confusing.

Benchmark: Good forms are well designed forms; all fields are relevant and follow the flow. Mandatory fields are placed together and highlighted.

Why do I get all hot and bothered about this?

If the worst case happens and there is a fatal or serious incident, Workplace Health and Safety are going to be all over your certificates and reports. If you can’t accurately and efficiently demonstrate WHS you and your organisation could be in a whole pile of pain, unnecessary costs and ultimately face fines or even jail.

Keeping accurate records is key….and it’s not difficult.

If you would like some help, please get in touch.

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Nigel Dalton-Brown, GAICD, AMIIA, MBA

Managing Director, Chair, Speaker, Lecturer, Author

Nigel is the Founder of Strytex and has been presenting and writing on Goverence, Obligational Awarenss, Risk Management and Compliance administration (GORC) since 2010.

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