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Verification

  1. What is Verification? 

Verification refers to determining the accuracy of responses reported in the Higg FEM self-assessment by a third- or second-party SAC-approved verifier. The verifier is selected and hired by a supplier to a facility site. The verifier is only person responsible for validating the accuracy of the assessment. 

  1. How will verification work?

*SAC strongly recommends verifications in 2018 and 2019 to be conducted on-site. SAC Secretariat in consultation with members will prepare a risk-based verification strategy for roll out for vFEM 2020.

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  1. What are the criteria for becoming a FEM approved Verifier?

Please visit http://www.sumerra.com/SAC/Application/ to see the list of criteria

  1. How do I apply to be a FEM approved verifier?

Visit: https://www.sumerra.com/sac/

  1. How do I become a Higg verifier?

Please refer to Verification SOPs on howtohigg.org 

  1. When can I apply and train to become a verifier?

Potential verifiers can apply and train to become a verifier anytime. For more information click here.

  1. How long does my SAC-approved verifier status last?

One year. To renew, you must provide documentation supporting your experience and ongoing education as defined by the Verifier Status Maintenance program.  Verifiers will receive credit for verification experience, continuing education, and other sustainability related activities conducted during the status validity period.

  1. Should the verifier be registered on Higg.org?

Yes, an approved verifier should be registered on the higg.org platform. VPM ensures the status of Verifiers is up-to-date on the platform.

  1. Should the verifier be from a third party?

Verifications used for consumer-facing communications MUST be conducted by a verifier that has no business relationship or influence with the factory he/she is verifying. A strict Conflict of Interest policy and the Higg Terms of Use will govern this work to ensure uninfluenced and credible results are communicated. These policies will be specific about boundaries related to business relationships and influence. 

  1. Are there any limits to the number of verifiers or trainers per company?

There is no limit.

  1. When does the Verifier Application Process open? 

Verifier applications are being accepted now and on an ongoing basis. There is no cut-off date for verifier applications. 

  1. Who should fill out an application to be a verifier or trainer?

Anyone (brand, retailer, manufacturer, service provider, individual) can apply to become a trainer or verifier as long as required criteria are met.  There is technically no limitation on who can fill out an application, however, the application is for those who wish to be approved to provide SAC approved services (verification, facility training). For those who are interested in completing training but not seeking to be an approved service provider (e.g. interested to learn new skills or for own personal knowledge), training modules will are available (link) and do not require an application form.

  1. What is the process for becoming a service provider (verifier or trainer)?

It is a two-step process. You must first fill out an application and pay the application fee. If you are deemed eligible, then you go to step two. Step two is the training. You would be provided a link to a specific training (a learning plan) at which point you will enrol and pay for the training.  After successful completion of training, you are considered approved for the specific service.

  1. What is professional liability insurance and why do I need it?

If you are a third party, the requirement is to have the equivalent of professional liability insurance (PLI), also called professional indemnity insurance (PII) or errors & omissions (E&O) insurance. This insurance should cover the cost of defending against a negligence claim made by a client (e.g. facility you provide service to, or the SAC). You are required to have a policy that provides at least US$1 million in coverage. For the application, you will need proof of insurance coverage (e.g. insurance certificate).

Second party applicants (e.g. brands) do not have to have PLI, however, they must sign additional indemnity form and depending on revenue may be required to name the SAC on general liability insurance as additional insured. 

  1. If I am a Higg FEM 2.0 approved verifier, do I have to be re-approved for Higg FEM 3.0?

Yes, the content and criteria for the new tool have changed. We must ensure consistency among verifications. It’s a course designed for adult learners. It consists of a combination of lecture, with office hours, videos with role playing, offline assignments. Instructors review work and share feedback with attendees. This will help with scalability. Verifiers have access to the system throughout the entire year.

  1. If I was a 2017 Higg FEM Verifier do I need to reapply?

2017 Higg FEM verifiers will need to reapply within 13 months of their 2017 verifier exam completion. Please refer to the SOP on Verifier List Maintenance on Howtohigg.org

  1. Who can provide a professional reference for an application to be a verifier or trainer?

As part of the application process, potential service providers may seek a professional reference from a SAC member (or ZDHC member for chemical specialties). Employees of SAC member companies with direct knowledge of the professional activities of the applicant may be a Professional Reference.  Professional References must be able to provide an informed and objective description about the professional work of the Applicant in regard to environmental management, sustainability, and assessment.

Non-SAC members, an applicant’s spouse or other relative, a person whom the applicant supervises, or a representative of the applicant’s own company (even if a member of the SAC) may not be a Professional Reference.  Additionally, references are not accepted if completed by the applicant.

  1. When is the training for verifiers and trainers?

The training is being facilitated in our online learning management system (LMS). Therefore, it is self-paced and is not a set date.  Trainees can enrol at any time and complete the training in their own time.  Each approval type will require completion of a specific ‘learning plan’ which consists of a group of courses.  These courses include e-learning modules, tests, Q&A/Office hours, and activities.  First you must complete an application. If deemed eligible you will be provided a link to enrol in the training on the LMS.  Please go to our training information page to learn more (https://www.sumerra.com/SAC/training/).

  1. Can a member from a manufacturer facility be verifier too?

As long as an individual meets the verifier criteria, they are able to become a verifier. Verifier Criteria will be released at the same time as we launch the verification application process in mid-November. 

  1. Can a brand have a verifier? And who should that be?  

Second party verifiers (i.e. verifiers from brands) can get enrolled in the FEM Verification Program. Verifier criteria is the same irrespective of the organisation they belong to. 

  1. Can a verifier be a trainer as well?

Yes, Verifiers may also be trainers as long as they meet the criteria for a trainer and vice versa.  

  1. Will the Approved Trainer training be in the same online format as Verifier Training?

Yes, these processes are aligned.

  1. Is the verifier training country specific?

The verifier training is not country specific. However, we do ask through the application process how the verifiers keep up to date with local laws and regulations. 

  1. How much chemical knowledge does a general verifier need?

A general verifier will need to have the chemical knowledge of all of the level 1 questions in the FEM chemical management section.  

  1. Can I be a Chemical Specialist Verifier if I don't have 25 days of assessment?

The requirements to be a Chemical Specialist verifier include practical experience of at least 25 days of factory chemicals management assessment.  Please note that many applicants are providing general brand or other assessments that are not primarily focused on Level 2 & 3 chemical management in wet textile processing.  Although most of these assessments do address Level 1 issues (e.g. safety, HazCom, storage, etc) they do not address advanced chemicals management categories and currently are not considered applicable.

The revised application form includes an equivalency tool so that you may see if any assessments you have complete are equivalent to a portion of the 25 days. In addition to any applicable assessment, credit will now be provided as follows:

  • Proof of completion of ZDHC course entitled "Top 10 Chemical Management Issues” will be equivalent to 10 days of the experience requirement. For example, if you have conducted 16 ZDHC audits and this training, you would have the equivalent of 26 days of experience.
  • If you shadow an assessment alongside a qualified Chemical Specialist Verifier, this can be included on your experience list in a 1 to 1 equivalency.  In other words, you don’t need to be the lead Chemical Specialist verifier to get credit for the assessment day.
  1. What are the fees for becoming a SAC Approved Verifier?

*Note: Application process and fees will be updated from 1 January 2020.

  1. Are verifier fees refundable?

No, Verifiers fees are not refundable. Please check the verifier criteria before applying. The verifier criteria can be found at http://www.sumerra.com/SAC/Application/

  1. Instead of paying individually, can we pay for a group of applicants or trainees?

Yes.  In order to pay for a group of applicants or trainees, please send an email to sac@sumerra.com with the following information:

  1. Method of payment (e.g. credit card, wire payment)
  2. Number of applicants for each approval program
  3. Whether you are a SAC member
  4. Billing Address

We will then send you an invoice for payment.  Once payment is received, we will provide you with a unique code that can be used by the specific number of applicants as payment in the application form.

  1. How much will verification cost?

Verification costs vary based on the Verifier Body, travel required by the verifier and the number of days it takes to verify the facilities information. Based on verifications conducted so far in 2018, most verifications have taken approximately 2 days. Small cut and sew facilities might only require one day, and larger facilities with wet processes that require a chemical specialist verifier, can take 3, or in special cases for very large facilities, 4+ days. 

  1. How is the payment for verification made?

Facilities need to purchase a vFEM for every year that is used to record the verified responses. Facilities (and/or brands) and Verifier Bodies should negotiate and finalise the cost of verification among themselves. SAC or the VPM does not mediate the costs of verification. Verification must however be governed by the SOPs set by SAC. 

  1. What if my application to be a Verifier is denied?

Request to Re-Open an Application: We are able to re-open your application upon request, should you need to revise your application.  This should be requested if you have made an error (e.g. uploaded wrong document, failed to provide details). Please send an email to us indicating why you think a revision would address the above issues with your application (e.g. wrong certificate uploaded).  You have up to 30 days to request a re-open an application and his can only be done one time.  After 30 days you will need to re-apply/re-pay. Please email to sac@sumerra.com should you required an application re-open.

Exception Request: If you think your combination of education, experience, and training meets the intent of the SAC criteria and you wish to provide an explanation for why the SAC should except this as a demonstration of your ability to conduct a high quality, full environmental assessment such as the Higg FEM, you can click the link in your eligibility email labelled 'Eligibility Exception Request Form'.  This form is directly linked to your application. You have up to 30 days to request an exception.  

  1. What happens if I fail the exam?

Each candidate can initially take the exam up to two times.  If the second attempt is failed, the candidate must wait 6 months and then may re-apply for the exam.  The candidate must pay the application fee again, plus the exam fee (published here: https://www.sumerra.com/sac/)

  1. Who can conduct verification?

Only SAC approved verifiers. These are individuals who meet strict criteria, training, and performance requirements set by SAC. They must apply and be selected by SAC's Verification Program Manager -- an external organization that manages the implementation of the FEM Verification Program 

  1. Will we be able to have verified reports available for analytics?

Verified scores are available as soon as factories post and share their verified results. The deadline for posting verified 2018 modules is December 31, 2019.  Please note that verification can only be done on posted FEM self-assessments.

  1. When a verified module is shared, are verifier comments visible?

Yes, verifier comments are visible for a vFEM in VRC (Verification Complete) stage (for facilities) and in VRF (verification finalised) and posted stage (for all parties the vFEM is shared with).

  1. I understand my approval is for 1-year, after that do I need to apply again and take the training again?

Verifier

You can find more info here: https://www.sumerra.com/sac/verifier-status-maintenance-program/

You will need to participate in the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) Verifier Status Maintenance (VSM) program.  The VSM program is to ensure that Verifiers develop and enhance their professional-level sustainability and verification knowledge and skills during the time period that they retain the status of Verifier for the Higg FEM program. The VSM program primarily emphasizes direct verification experience but also makes allowances for professional development activities when there is an environmental sustainability or verification aspect. Verifiers are required to submit documentation on an annual basis in order to maintain their status as a Verifier.

Every year, verifiers must take action to maintain their status. This can be accomplished by submitting a VSM Worksheet or by retaking the full training, including the proctored exam (if you wish to retake the training, please contact Sumerra at sac@sumerra.com .

A Verifier maintains status via VSM Worksheet by meeting the minimum requirements. The categories for status maintenance points include:

Category 1: Conducting Verifications

Category 2: Higg Index FEM Training Attendance

Category 3: Higg Index FEM Training Delivery

Category 4: Other Specialized Training Attendance

Category 5: Other Specialized Training Delivery

Category 6. Other Environmental Assessments/Audits

Category 7. Higg Index FEM Shadow Assessments

Category 8. Capacity Building Projects / Consultancy work for impact areas included in FEM

Category 9. Higg FEM technical review of verification results

Category 10: Environmental Accreditation / Qualification from another industry Scheme (ZDHC, etc.)

Category 11: Attendance at Environmental Conferences

Category 12: Questions Accepted for Use in Exams (Click button below for form)

When submitting the VSM worksheet, the Verifier will be required to pay a fee. Payment of fees is a condition of maintaining status. Fees are non-refundable. The cost of submittal and review of a VSM worksheet in 2019 is US$200.

During each annual cycle, some Verifiers are randomly selected for a VSM audit. Activities claimed on the worksheet are verified through written, impartial records.

Trainer

You can find more info here: https://www.sumerra.com/sac/tsmprogram/

You will need to participate in the Trainer Status Maintenance (TSM) program.  The TSM program is to ensure that Trainers develop and enhance their professional-level sustainability and training knowledge and skills during the time period that they retain the status of Trainer for the Higg FEM program. The TSM program primarily emphasizes direct training experience but also makes allowances for professional development activities when there is an environmental sustainability or training development/delivery aspect. 

Every year, trainers must take action to maintain their status. This can be accomplished by submitting a TSM Worksheet or by retaking the full training, including the exam (if you wish to retake the training, please contact Sumerra).

A Trainer maintains status via TSM Worksheet by meeting the minimum requirements.  The categories for status maintenance points include:

Category 1: Higg Index FEM Training Delivery

Category 2: Other Specialized Training Delivery

Category 3: Environmental Training Attendance

Category 4: Conducting Verifications

Category 5: Capacity Building Projects / Consultancy work for impact areas included in FEM

Category 6. Environmental Training or General Training Provider Accreditation / Qualification

Category 7. Environmental Related Professional Accreditation / Qualification (i.e. REP)

Category 8. Attendance at Environmental Conferences

When submitting the TSM worksheet, the Trainer will be required to pay a fee. Payment of fees is a condition of maintaining status. Fees are non-refundable. The cost of submittal and review of a TSM worksheet in 2019 is US$75.

During each annual cycle, some Trainers are randomly selected for a TSM audit. Activities claimed on the worksheet are verified through written, impartial records.

  1. How do I submit my VSM or TSM worksheet on STEP?

WARNING! Failure to follow this process may require you to re-do the process to ensure your renewal is properly logged. 

You can find more information at https://sumerra.freshdesk.com/helpdesk/attachments/43036583106

Viewing Your Approvals

In order to view your current approvals, please follow these steps.

  • Log in to your STEP account
  • Click the menu button (three lines) in upper left of your main page
  • Click the My Activities
  • Click Certifications, and you will be able to view all of your approvals

Basic Procedures for Renewal

The process of approval (called Certifications on the STEP site) is the same for all approvals in the Sumerra systems.   All approved providers should receive a notification email three months and 1 month prior to expiration.   One way to renew is to click the link provided in the email (NOTE: You must be logged into STEP first). Alternatively, you can click the ‘Renew’ button found on your approval list

Clicking the email link or Renew Now link will both take you to a list of ‘courses’ that can be completed to complete your renewal.  Click the Buy Now button and complete the enrollment (if you are renewing a specialty such as Chemical Specialist Verifier and Trainer with Verification Specialty see the section below.

NOTE:  If you plan to pay via Wire Payment, you will need to first obtain a Coupon Code to use for payment.   Contact Sumerra at SAC@sumerra.com and request an invoice.  Upon payment, you will be provided a coupon code that can be used for course payment. 

Submitting Your Worksheet

Submitting your worksheet is easy.  

  • Click on the assignment object
  • Drop your worksheet file / or click to upload
  • Fill in your name and submit

 Specialties

Please note that for renewal of specialties (i.e. Chemical Specialist Verifier and Trainer with Verification Specialty), when clicking the Renew link, you will be informed that you have been placed in a Waitlist.  Although you need to click the Renew link, your approval will be handled in the main category (i.e. General Verifier and Training Provider).  Once your worksheet has been approved in the main category, you will automatically be granted completion of the specialty. No other steps are needed.

  1. If I change companies, do I lose my approval status?

You can find more information at: https://sumerra.freshdesk.com/helpdesk/attachments/43071957763

Generally, no. We are approving individuals and not companies. However, if changing companies impacts maintenance of certain criteria (e.g. insurance) this could result in loss of approval. We will be requiring approved individuals to update us and complete a new application if they change companies so we can maintain a current contact list that is available to facilities and reconfirm they remain eligible based on the criteria. 

The general process is as follows (the full policy is provided as an attachment):

  1. Complete the form for Change of Company (https://fs26.formsite.com/Sumerra/SAC-Change-Company/index.html)
  2. We will temporarily suspend the verifier / trainer in the database.
  3. The applicant must complete (and pay for) a new application (https://www.sumerra.com/SAC/Application/)
  4. Notify Sumerra that the application is complete. We will review the updated info and approve. They can disregard any emails about training, they do not need to take the training again.
  5. Sumerra will re-activate the verifier / trainer with new company info.
  6. Verifier / Trainer should update their profile (e.g. username, email, company info, etc.) in STEP (training site).

Proof of completion of ZDHC course entitled "Top 10 Chemical Management Issues” will be equivalent to 10 days of the experience requirement. For example, if you have conducted 16 ZDHC audits and this training, you would have the equivalent of 26 days of experience.

If you shadow an assessment alongside a qualified Chemical Specialist Verifier, this can be included on your experience list in a 1 to 1 equivalency.  In other words, you don’t need to be the lead Chemical Specialist verifier to get credit for the assessment day.

  1. If I can’t find the information here, what should I do?

This FAQ page is meant to address questions regarding functions currently managed by the VPM and TPM, specifically the application and training to be a service provider.  If you don’t find the information you are seeking here, please try the FAQ page provided by the SAC.

If you still cannot find the information you are looking for, please contact Sumerra at sac@sumerra.com

 

 

 

 

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