2. Higg FEM Verifier Application, Vetting and Eligibility Status


Policy Title:        Higg FEM Verifier Application, Vetting and Eligibility Status

Policy Number:   VPM - 002

Issue Date:         February 12, 2018

Authorization:    SAC Vice President - Higg Index

Distribution:       Internal – All

                            External – All potential and current Eligible FEM Verifiers


Table of Contents

1     FEM Verifier Application

2     Verifier Application Fee

3     Verifier Qualifications

  3.1      Generalist Verifier Criteria

  3.2      Chemical Specialist Verifier Qualifications

  3.3      Verifier Additional requirements

4     Verifier Application Process

5     Verifier Training Requirements

  5.1      Initial Training:

  5.2      Refresher Training:

  5.3      Additional Training

6     Conflict of Interest

7     Application Acknowledgements

  7.1      Privacy Policy

  7.2      Code of Conduct

  7.3      Required Fees

  7.4      Peer Review


1     FEM Verifier Application 

  1. Individuals must apply to become an SAC Eligible FEM Verifier
  2. The VPM manages the application site and process
  3. Potential Verifiers must submit all required information; incomplete applications that are missing required information will not be deemed eligible
  4. Verifier Application: The application can be found on the Verification Program Manager (VPM) website at
    • The application information must be in English
    • The application will take approximately 1-2 weeks for an eligibility notification or denial response
      • If additional information is required, this timeline may be extended
  1. Application Eligibility:
    • If the application is approved, the individual must complete a specified number of training courses (defined as a ‘learning plan’) and pass the associated final exam prior to becoming an SAC Eligible FEM Verifier
    • If the application is denied:
      • The individual will receive the reason(s) for the denial
      • If the individual does not agree with the reason(s) and wishes to challenge the denial:
        • They must reply to the VPM within 1 week (7 days) of the denial date by completing the Exception Form (NOTE: After this time, they must reapply as with any new applicant, including paying the application fee)
        • The Exception Form should contain:
          • Why they are contesting their denial
          • Additional information and details to support their reasoning
        • The VPM will consider any additional information and will approve or deny based on the additional information
      • If the denial is changed, the applicant is approved for the training
      • If the denial is confirmed, the applicant can reapply at any time, going through the process as any new applicant (including pay the application fee)
  1. Process flow for Verifier Eligibility:


2     Verifier Application Fee

  1. Applicants must pay the following Fees:


Non-Member Price

SAC Member Price

Application – SAC FEM 3.0 Verifier



Application – SAC FEM 3.0 Chemical Specialist



Training – SAC FEM 3.0 Verifier



Training – SAC FEM 3.0 Chemical Specialist Verifier



3     Verifier Qualifications  

  3.1    Generalist Verifier Criteria

  1. Minimally Required Qualifications



Required Experience

Environmental Assessment Experience

Conducting Assessments relating to:

·       EMS

·       Energy

·       GHG emissions

·       Water

·       Wastewater

·       Waste

·       Air Emissions

·       Chemicals

Within the previous 3 years:

·       With Tertiary Degree: 20 or more Assessments

·       With no Tertiary Degree: 40 or more Assessments

Strong Knowledge of and experience training in environmental areas

·       EMS

·       Energy

·       GHG emissions

·       Water

·       Wastewater

·       Waste

·       Air Emissions

·       Chemicals

Must have experience in the majority of the areas listed

Demonstrated knowledge of national and local environmental regulations

The ability to research laws and regulations, or the knowledge of such laws and regulations


Fluency in English





Professional liability insurance with a minimum coverage amount of US$1 million.

Professional liability insurance (PLI), also called professional indemnity insurance (PII) or errors & omissions (E&O), is a form of liability insurance which helps protect professional advice- and service-providing individuals and companies from bearing the full cost of defending against a negligence claim made by a client.




  1. Additional Qualifications Considered in Evaluation



Tertiary Degree in in Environmental or Life Science Field (if using <40 environmental assessments for qualification, see above)

Examples include:

·       Biology

·       Chemistry

·       Environmental Engineering

·       Geology

·       Zoology

·       Inorganic Chemistry

Successful Completion of relevant training courses


2.0 SAC Verifier


Relevant environmental, environmental management, environmental health or safety certification and/or accreditations or certifications

Examples include:

·       Certified Industrial Hygienist

·       ISO 14001

·       Certified Safety Professional

·       HAZWOPER

Other Assessment Experience

Examples include:

·       Health and Safety Audits or Assessments

·       Environmental Impact Assessments or Studies

·       Energy, Air Emissions, Waste, or EMS Assessments

Experience leading environmental management, sustainability, or environmental health and safety for a manufacturer or in a manufacturing setting

Additional benefits for footwear, apparel, or home textiles factory experience.

Relevant Education and/or degrees

Examples include:

·       Life Sciences

·       Chemistry

·       Environmental Studies

·       Advanced Courses or certificates

Quality Assurance Program within the company/organization


Completed professional reference from an SAC member indicating proficiency in environmental issues/assessment


  3.2    Chemical Specialist Verifier Qualifications

  1. In addition to the Generalist qualifications, to be deemed eligible as a Chemical Specialist, the following minimum required qualifications must be met



Required Experience

Must be a SAC Eligible FEM 3.0 Verifier

See above


Advanced Degree in Chemistry 

Examples include:

·       Chemistry

·       Inorganic Chemistry

·       Chemical Engineering

·       Master’s Degree

·       Doctorate Degree


Chemical Assessment Experience

Examples include:

·       Chemical Use and Reduction

More than 25 days in the previous 12 months

Demonstrated knowledge of national and local chemical laws and regulations

The ability to research laws and regulations, or the knowledge of such laws and regulations



  1. Additional Qualifications Considered in Evaluation



Completed professional reference from a ZDHC Member indicating proficiency in chemicals management


Additional chemical assessment experience

Beyond the minimum requirement of 25 days in previous 12 months

  3.3    Verifier Additional requirements



Supporting Document

Code of Conduct

Must agree to SAC's Verifier Code of Conduct

Acceptance of SAC's Code of Conduct in Application

Conflict of Interest statement

Must agree to the Conflict of Interest Statement and Policy

Acceptance of Conflict of Interest Policies in Application

Peer review

Applicants must agree to having up to two verification reports Peer Reviewed annually and agree to conducting two peer reviews (external to your organization) per year if asked by the SAC

Acceptance to give SAC permission to conduct peer-reviewed assessments of any Higg verifications in Application.

Providing SAC copies of all verification reports

Applicants must agree to submit SAC a copy of all original verification reports within five days of completing a verification assessment

Acceptance of submittal agreement

Continuous Improvement

Eligible FEM 3.0 Verifying Organizations will also be required to report a set of KPI’s on a monthly basis to the SAC and /or the Verification Program Manager. A template will be provided for which to enter the information requested

Agreement to provide KPI data in the Application to SAC

A name and e-mail for the person who would be responsible for providing the KPI data to the SAC VPM will be require

Approval Status Maintenance

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

Agreement of understanding that documentation will be required on annual basis as part of Verifier Status Maintenance program

4     Verifier Application Process

  1. To verify eligibility, Verifiers must fully complete an eligibility form.
    • The VPM will review the form to confirm compliance with the listed criteria
    • The VPM may request additional supporting documentation (e.g. diploma, employer references, etc.)
    • Providing inaccurate information on the eligibility form is grounds for denial of application and/or revocation of eligibility
      • Note: It is expected that the companies that employ applicants verify the work history and education of the applicants. The VPM generally does not require transcripts or proof of work history from applicants; however, at the discretion of the VPM, additional documentation may be required.
  1. The VPM will confirm compliance as follows:
    • Environmental Assessment Experience: Experience must be:
      • Related to Higg Sections
        • EMS
        • Energy
        • GHG emissions
        • Water
        • Wastewater
        • Waste
        • Air Emissions
        • Chemicals
      • Assessments must be comprehensive in nature (i.e. focused assessments on a single or a few aspects do not qualify)
      • Assessments must be at least 1 or more days in duration (at least 6 hours of on-site work)
      • Assessments may be for or at the request of facilities, brands, retailors, governments, NGOs, Organizations, etc.
    • Strong knowledge and experience is determined by years of experience; to qualify, experience must be:
      • Comprehensive (i.e. focused experience on a single or a few components do not qualify)
      • Can include:
        • Auditing, assessing, inspecting, verifying, etc.
        • Managing Environmental programs for Facilities, Brands, Retailors, etc.
        • Providing Environmental consulting for Facilities, Brands, Retailors, etc.
        • Developing Environmental laws or regulations for governments or organizations
      • English fluency is demonstrated by the ability to communicate, in written form, to the VPM

5     Verifier Training Requirements

  5.1    Initial Training:

  1. Training Method: Completion of suite of topic courses as part of an overall learning plan (“the learning plan”). Training content will include a mix of e-learning courses, on and off-line activities, forum discussions, and in person webinar based Q&A hours.
  2. Duration: Up to 40 total contact hours
  3. Attendees: Eligible individuals (per application review) who wish to be a SAC Eligible Verifier
  4. Courses included in the ‘learning plan’:
    • Introduction to the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Higg
    • Introduction to Using
    • Environmental Management Systems
    • Energy and Greenhouse Gases
    • Water Use
    • Wastewater
    • Emissions to Air
    • Waste Management
    • Chemicals
    • Advanced Chemicals Specialty
    • Conducting Verifications
    • Conducting Verifications of Level 2 & 3 Chemicals
  5. Verifier training course pages will be accessible during the verifiers eligibility period
  6. Exam:
    • All attendees must pass an exam following completion of the learning plan courses listed above
    • Attendees must follow established protocols shared before/during the exam
      • This exam will be remotely proctored. The applicant is required to have a computer with an internet connection and a camera.
    • If the exam is passed, the training is complete and the attendee is considered an SAC Eligible FEM Verifier as defined herein
    • If the exam is not passed:
      • To prepare for an exam retake, the attendee may:
        • Review any portion of the training to re-learn the materials
        • Relearn materials by using additional Higg resources
        • Contact the VPM for additional support
      • The attendee may register for an exam retake within one month after first failed exam by restarting the exam course in the LMS.
        • Should the verifier fail the exam retake the attendee must wait 6 months from the last failed exam to retake the exam . 

  5.2    Refresher Training:

  1. TBD – Annual Retraining is anticipated

  5.3    Additional Training

  1. Additional training may be available or required for Trainers; this training may include:
    • Changes to the tool, process, guidance documents, etc.
    • Additions to the initial training
    • Additional information to fill gaps in Trainer’s understanding or knowledge
  2. This training may be required or suggested, depending on the topic(s)
    • If the training is required, Trainers must complete the training by the specified dates to keep their ‘eligible’ status
    • Generally, this additional training will be provided at no cost; however, SAC reserves the right to charge additional costs for training

6     Conflict of Interest 

  1. 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.
  2. A strict Code of Conduct and the Higg Terms of Use governs this work to ensure uninfluenced and credible results are communicated.
  3. There is a conflict if Trainers are Verifiers; specifically:
    • Verifiers cannot perform a Verification if they provided training to that facility
      • An exception is if the training was done in a ‘large group setting’ in which the trainer was speaking to a large audience about general topics and did not have specific discussions with or specifically assist any individual facility
      • In order to remove bias and potential conflict of interest, you will not assess a facility twice unless given written permission by SAC or the VPM
      • At no time should the verifiers engage in selling other services their organization offers
      • Where there is a Brand -Supplier relationship, verified scores cannot be communicated by the supplier or brand publicly per Higg Index Terms of Use.

7     Application Acknowledgements

  7.1    Privacy Policy

  1. Applicants will agree to all privacy policies noted in the various platforms. It is the responsibility of the applicant to read and agree to the policy.

  7.2    Code of Conduct

  1. Applicants will agree to all Code of Conduct noted in the various platforms. It is the responsibility of the applicant to read and agree to the policy.

  7.3    Required Fees

  1. Posting a module on will require paying a $185 fee that you will collect as a part of your verification services (per standard quote and contract template).

  7.4    Peer Review

  1. Verifiers agree to having up to two verification reports selected for external peer review/critique each year. Verifiers also agree to conducting two peer reviews (external to their organization) per year if asked. Note that if peer review is a requirement of a conflict resolution process additional peer reviews might be required.


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