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2. Higg FEM Verifier Application, Vetting and Eligibility Status

 

 

Verifier Status Maintenance (VSM) Program

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

Date: November 1, 2018

Version 1

 

Contents                                                                        

Purpose of the VSM Program
Verifier Identification
Contact Information & Communications Fees
Status Maintenance by Training 
Status by Worksheet 
   Minimum Points Requirements Process 
   Reporting Timing
   Worksheet Audits
   Record Retention
Category Requirements and Points 
   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,                         BEPI, etc.)
   Category 11: Attendance at Environmental Conferences 
   Category 12: Questions Accepted for Use in Exams 

Verifier Status Maintenance (VSM) Program                                       

Purpose of the VSM Program

The purpose of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) Verifier Status Maintenance (VSM) program, managed by the Verification Program Manager (VPM) Sumerra, 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.

Verifier Identification

A Verifier is a person who has met the qualifications for education, experience, and examination; and, has continued to meet the obligations for VSM which include: practicing ethically; paying annual fees; submitting an acceptable VSM worksheet or retaking the full training; and, passing a VSM audit (if audited).

The names and status types of all Verifiers in good standing are listed on the public website (https://slemma.com/share/SACApprovedFEMVerifierList). The term in good standing means that the Verifier is paid up on all fees and is not involved in an ethics dispute.

Verifier Code of Professional Conduct

During the applications process, each Verifier agreed to adhere to the Verifier Code of Professional Conduct which is available on the VPM web site (https://www.sumerra.com/sac/coc/). Any individual may file an ethics complaint. All complaints are treated seriously and where warranted, further investigated by VPM in conjunction with the SAC. A Verifier found to be in violation of the Verifier Code of Professional Conduct will be subject to a range of sanctions up to and including loss of status.

Contact Information & Communications

Verifiers are responsible to maintain up-to-date contact information with the VPM to ensure that communications are sent to a current address.

Changes to VSM program requirements are announced by the VPM via email and will be posted on the HowtoHigg.org website. It is the responsibility of the Verifier to read the communications and ensure understanding.

Fees

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.

Current fees are as follows:

2019: US$200

2020: TBD

2021: TBD

Fees for training are published on the training and VPM website.

Status Maintenance by Training

Every year, verifiers must take action to maintain their status. This can be accomplished by submitting a VSM Worksheet (see next section) or by retaking the full training, including the proctored exam. Verifiers should contact the VPM if they wish to go this route as prior training records must be reset.

Status by Worksheet

A Verifier maintains status via VSM Worksheet by meeting the minimum requirements as listed in the next section. Each Category is further explained in this SOP. 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,

    BEPI, etc.)

  • Category 11: Attendance at Environmental Conferences

  • Category 12: Questions Accepted for Use in Exams

Minimum Points Requirements

Verifiers must accrue the minimum amount of points in order to maintain status. The minimum number of points is 100.

Process

Worksheet forms will be available in the VSM course on the VPM learning management system (LMS) also known as STEP (https://sumerra.docebosaas.com/) and also available on the VPM website (https://www.sumerra.com/sac/).

Verifiers will enroll in the course by paying the VSM course fee. Once enrolled, the Verifier can download the most current worksheet for completion.

Worksheets are submitted in the STEP course page by following the instructions on the course page.

Activities claimed on the worksheet must be supported through a written impartial record. If a written, objective record is not available, the Verifier should not list the item on the worksheet. Examples of satisfactory records are listed in each of the Category sections. Worksheets are initially submitted without proof-of-participation records.

The VPM reviews each worksheet to judge whether minimum requirements are achieved. The VPM will contact the Verifier if the minimums are not achieved or if there is anything unclear or missing on the worksheet. Points earned in excess of the minimum requirements does not earn extra credit nor does it carry over to a future status maintenance period.

Maintaining status does not mean that everything listed on the worksheet was acceptable for points. If a Verifier has questions about what was or was not acceptable (for purposes of future worksheets), the Verifier should contact the VPM.

Reporting Timing

Verifiers can complete the VSM worksheet at any time and re-start the annual Verifier status. Verifiers will receive a notice from STEP when there is 1 month before the status will expire.

Requests for extension of status beyond the current 13-month period can be made to the VPM. To request an extension of status, the Verifier should contact the VPM via email (SAC@Sumerra.com) and provide relevant information (i.e., Verifier name, SAC ID number, reason for requesting extension, etc.) The VPM will evaluate all requests for extension on a case-by-case basis and provide notification to the Verifier if the request has approved and the duration of the extension.

Worksheet Audits

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

The purpose of the audit is to:

  • Verify that the Verifier has achieved the minimum requirements necessary for recertification.

  • Identify areas where Verifiers have difficulty in providing records so that the VPM may continuously improve its programs.

Verifiers selected for an audit are notified regarding which records are required. The provided records must be consistent with the dates and activities listed on the worksheet. Examples of satisfactory records are listed in each of the category summaries.

Verifiers are normally allowed two weeks to send the records to the VPM. This may occasionally be adjusted to account for holiday time periods. Additional time can be granted in some cases due to circumstances where the Verifier does not have access to the records, e.g., extended business or personal travel, location shutdowns, medical or family illnesses. The Verifier must contact the VPM to request additional time which may or may not be granted.

Audit results are reported to the Verifier. If the provided records support that the Verifier achieved the required minimum points, the status is maintained. If the provided records do not support that the required minimum points were achieved, the Verifier will be contacted to secure other records.

The Verifier will have failed to maintain status if:

  • the audit records were not submitted, or

  • the audit records do not support that the minimum requirements were achieved

Record Retention

Records acceptable for points are described in each of the summary for the various Categories. Ideally, the Verifier should establish a records folder which can be built throughout the year. A single storage folder or location will also increase the chance that documentation will be available when needed.

Category Requirements and Points

Category 1: Conducting Verifications

Points

Minimum

Maximum

None

100

Activity

Points Awarded

Higg 3.0 FEM Verification

5 points per verification

Description

Verifiers can claim status maintenance points for the completion of each Higg FEM verification. In order for status maintenance points to be awarded, the verifier must have led (in full or in part) the on-site or off-site verification activities.

If the verification was conducted by an assessment team of two or more verifiers, all verifiers on the team can claim status maintenance points for the verification if they were responsible for leading a portion of the verification.

Shadow assessments should be claimed under Category 7.

Records

An acceptable record is one that contains the following information:

  • The verifier’s name and SAC ID number;

  • The full (legal) business name and address of the facility where the verification was

    conducted;

  • The facility Higg ID number (if applicable);

  • The date(s) the verification was conducted; and

  • Indication of whether the verification was conducted on-site or off-site

Unacceptable Records

• A proposal/quotation document between the verifier’s organization a facility seeking verification that does not include the above listed information

 

Category 2: Higg Index FEM Training Attendance

Points

Minimum

Maximum

None

25

Contact Hours

Points Awarded

4hrs

0.5

4 - 8hrs

1

8 - 16hrs

1.25

>16hrs

2.5

Description

Status maintenance points are awarded for attending of Higg Index training events where training was provided by a SAC Higg Index FEM Training Provider. The level of points awarded are based on the duration of the training as listed above.

In order to qualify for status maintenance points, the training must have been

  • A minimum of four (4) hours in length; and

  • Covered at least one (1) of the seven (7) Higg Index topics (EMS, Energy & GHG, Water,

    Wastewater, Waste, Air, Chemicals Management)

Records

An acceptable record is one that shows:

  • The verifier’s name;

  • Date(s) and location of the training course;

  • Course title and duration (in hours);

  • The name(s) of the course instructor(s) and their SAC ID number(s); and

  • The SAC training registration number

If any of the above information is missing or if the course subject matter is not clear from the title, then additional records will be needed, e.g., event description, agenda or schedule.

If the training provider does not generate a participation record for the event, the following will be acceptable:

  • Certificate, letter/email, or other record provided by the training provider showing completion of the training course

  • Training registration receipt if purchased on site, for single day training

Unacceptable Records

  • Training agenda/schedule that is not accompanied by the above listed information

  • Presentation slides

 

Category 3: Higg Index FEM Training Delivery

Points

Minimum

Maximum

None

50

Contact Hours

Points Awarded

4hrs

1

4 - 8hrs

2

8 - 16hrs

2.5

>16hrs

5

Description

Verifiers who are also SAC Higg Index training providers, can claim status maintenance points for providing Higg Index training. The level of points awarded are based on the duration of the training as listed above.

If multiple instructors were responsible for delivering the training course, only the actual contact hours that were led by the verifier/trainer can be claimed for status maintenance points.

In order to qualify for status maintenance points, the training must have been:

  • A minimum of four (4) hours in length;

  • Covered at least one (1) of the seven (7) Higg Index sections (EMS, Energy & GHG, Water,

    Wastewater, Waste, Air, Chemicals Management); and

  • Conducted in accordance with the SAC Code of Conduct and Terms and Conditions relating to

    the use and delivery of Higg Index trainings

Records

An acceptable record is one that shows:

  • The verifier/trainer’s name and SAC ID number;

  • Date(s) and location of the training course;

  • Course title and duration (in hours);

  • Information on attendees (i.e. participant list, organizations, etc.); and

  • The SAC training registration number

    Unacceptable Records

  • Training agenda/schedule that is not accompanied by the above listed information

  • Presentation slides

 

Category 4: Other Specialized Training Attendance

Points

Minimum

Maximum

None

12.5

Contact Hours

Points Awarded

4hrs

0.25

4 - 8hrs

0.5

8 - 16hrs

0.75

>16hrs

1.25

Description

Verifiers can claim status maintenance points for attending other specialized (non-Higg) environmental training. The level of points awarded are based on the duration of the training as listed above.

In order to qualify for status maintenance points, the training must have been:

  • A minimum of four (4) hours in length; and

  • Covered at least one (1) of the seven (7) Higg Index topics (EMS, Energy & GHG, Water,Wastewater, Waste, Air, Chemicals Management)

Records

An acceptable record is one that shows:

  • The verifier’s name;

  • Date(s) and location of the training course;

  • Course title and duration (in hours); and

  • The name(s) and organization(s) of the course instructor(s)

If any of the above information is missing or if the course subject matter is not clear from the title, then additional records will be needed, e.g., event description, agenda or schedule.

If the training provider does not generate a participation record for the event, the following will be acceptable:

  • Certificate, letter/email, or other record provided by the training provider showing completion of the training course; and/or

  • Training registration receipt if purchased on site, for single day training

Unacceptable Records

  • Training agenda/schedule that is not accompanied by the above listed information

  • Presentation slides

 

Category 5: Other Specialized Training Delivery

Points

Minimum

Maximum

None

25

Contact Hours

Points Awarded

4hrs

0.5

4 - 8hrs

1

8 - 16hrs

1.25

>16hrs

2.5

Description

Verifiers can claim status maintenance points for providing other specialized (non-Higg) environmental training. The level of points awarded are based on the duration of the training as listed above.

If multiple instructors were responsible for delivering the training course, only the actual contact hours that were led by the verifier/trainer can be claimed for status maintenance points.

In order to qualify for status maintenance points, the training must have been:

  • A minimum of four (4) hours in length; and

  • Covered at least one (1) of the seven (7) Higg Index topics (EMS, Energy & GHG, Water,Wastewater, Waste, Air, Chemicals Management)

Records

An acceptable record is one that shows:

  • The verifier/trainer’s name;

  • Date(s) and location of the training course;

  • Course title and duration (in hours); and

  • Information on attendees (i.e. participant list, organization, etc.)

If any of the above information is missing or if the course subject matter is not clear from the title, then additional records will be needed, e.g., event description, agenda or schedule.

Unacceptable Records

  • Training agenda/schedule that is not accompanied by the above listed information

  • Presentation slides

 

Category 6. Other Environmental Assessments/Audits

Points

Minimum

Maximum

None

50

Activity

Points Awarded

Environmental Assessment

2.5 points per assessment

Description

Verifiers can claim status maintenance points for the completion of other (non-Higg) environmental assessments or audits. In order for status maintenance points to be awarded, the verifier must have led (in full or in part) the assessment/audit activities.

If the assessment/ audit was conducted by an assessment team of two or more persons, all assessment/audit team members can claim status maintenance points for the assessment/audit if they were responsible for leading a portion of the assessment/audit activities.

The environmental assessment/audit must have covered at least one (1) of the seven (7) Higg Index topics (EMS, Energy & GHG, Water, Wastewater, Waste, Air, Chemicals Management)

Records

An acceptable record is one that contains the following information:

  • The verifier’s name;

  • The full (legal) business name and address of the facility where the assessment/audit was conducted; and

  • The date(s) the assessment/audit was conducted

  • Description of the assessment/audit scope (i.e., EMS or energy audit)

Unacceptable Records

  • A proposal/quotation document between the verifier’s organization a facility seeking an environmental assessment/audit that does not include the above listed information
 

Category 7. Higg Index FEM Shadow Assessments

Points

Minimum

Maximum

None

50

Activity

Points Awarded

Shadow Verification

5 points per verification

Description

Verifiers can claim status maintenance points for shadowing a Higg FEM verification. In order for status maintenance points to be awarded, the verifier must have shadowed all on-site verification activities for quality control purposes including:

  • Opening/closing meetings;

  • Management interviews:

  • Site observations; and

  • Documentation review

No status maintenance points will be awarded for shadowing of off-site verification or other (non- Higg) environmental assessments/audits.

If the verifier was responsible for leading a portion of the verification, status maintenance points should be claimed under Category 1.

Records

An acceptable record is one that contains the following information:

  • The lead and shadow verifier’s names and SAC ID numbers;

  • The full (legal) business name and address of the facility where the shadow verification was

    conducted; and

  • The date(s) the assessment/audit was conducted

 

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

Points

Minimum

Maximum

None

25

Activity

Points Awarded

Capacity Building Project

2.5 points per project

Description

Verifiers can claim status maintenance points for capacity building projects and/or consultancy work provided to organizations that relate to at least one (1) of the seven (7) Higg Index topics (EMS, Energy & GHG, Water, Wastewater, Waste, Air, Chemicals Management)

If the capacity building or consulting work was conducted as part of a project team, there verifier must have been responsible for working directly with or advising the receiving organization on technical aspects of the project.

Both on and off-site project work can be claimed provided that it meets the criteria listed above. Project management, oversight, or other administrative work related to a project cannot be claimed.

Records

An acceptable record is one that contains the following information:

  • The verifier’s name;

  • The full (legal) business name and address of the facility where the capacity building project

    and/or consultancy work was provided;

  • A description of the scope and details of the capacity building project and/or consultancy
    work provided by the verifier; and

  • The date(s) the capacity building projects and/or consultancy work was conducted

Unacceptable Records

  • A proposal/quotation document between the verifier’s organization a facility seeking capacity building projects and/or consultancy work that does not include the above listed information 

 

Category 9. Higg FEM technical review of verification results

Points

Minimum

Maximum

None

20

Activity

Points Awarded

Desktop review of verification

2 points per review

Description

Verifiers can claim status maintenance points for conducting technical reviews of Higg FEM verification results. In order for status maintenance points to be awarded, the technical review must include a review of the results of one (1) complete Higg FEM verification for technical accuracy and completeness as well as other general data/information/reporting quality control.

No status maintenance points will be awarded for technical review of other (non-Higg) environmental assessments/audits.

Records

An acceptable record is one that contains the following information:

  • The verifier’s (technical reviewer’s) name and SAC ID number;

  • The full (legal) business name and address of the facility where the verification was

    conducted;

  • The date(s) the verification and technical review were conducted; and

  • Indication of whether the review was conducted for an off-site or on-site verification

Letter reports or summaries of technical review activities that contain the above listed information will be accepted as valid records.

 

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

Points

Minimum

Maximum

None

12.5

Activity

Points Awarded

Environmental Accreditation

2.5 points per accreditation

Description

Verifiers can claim status maintenance points for receiving environmental accreditation and/or qualification from other industry schemes (i.e. ZDHC, BEPI, etc.)

Verifiers may not claim status maintenance points for re-certification of previously held/expired accreditations or qualifications.

Note: Accreditation is not the same as receiving training. Attendance at SAC Higg Index FEM or other environmental training should be claimed under Categories 2 or 4.

Records

An acceptable record is one that contains the following information:

  • The verifier’s name;

  • The title/designation of the accreditation/qualification received

  • The full name of the issuing organization or authority

  • The validity/expiration dates of the accreditation

Unacceptable Records

  • Training attendance certificate (unless it clearly states the accreditation received, accrediting organization, and validity period of the accreditation)

  • Training agenda/schedule

  • Presentation slides

 

Category 11: Attendance at Environmental Conferences

Points

Minimum

Maximum

None

25

Activity

Points Awarded

General Attendance

2 points

Presenter/Speaker

5 points

Description

Verifiers can claim status maintenance points for attending environmental conferences or seminars. Different levels of points are awarded for general attendance and presenter/speaker roles.

Status maintenance points can only be claimed once per event in accordance with the criteria listed below.

To claim points for general attendance the conference:

  • The conference must be least one full day or more of educational content; and

  • The verifier must have attended at least 6 hours of content

To claim points for presenting/speaking at the conference:

  • The presentation must be at least 20 minutes in length; and

  • Cover an environmental sustainability topic

Note: Sales, advertising, and marketing presentations are not eligible for presentation/speaker points.

Records

An acceptable record is one that shows:

  • Verifier’s name

  • Event title and duration (number of days)

  • Date(s) and location of the event;

  • Title and duration (in minutes or hours) of the presentation, if applicable

  • Description of the presentation, if applicable and not clear from the title

If any of the above information is missing or if the event topics are not clear from the title, then additional records will be needed, e.g., event description, agenda or schedule.

If the hosting organization does not generate a participation record for the event, the following will be acceptable:

  • Certificate, letter/email, or other record provided by the host organization showing proof of attendance or speaking engagement at the event; and/or

  • Event registration receipt if purchased on site, for single day event (for general attendance only)

  • Event badge only if issued on site, at a single-day event

  • Registration record and evidence of physical presence in the city on the day(s) of the event, e.g. approved expense report, purchase receipts, etc.

Unacceptable Records

  • Event agenda/schedule that is not accompanied by any of the above listed information

  • Event badges if distributed prior to the Event

  • Presentation slides
 

Category 12: Questions Accepted for Use in Exams

Points

Minimum

Maximum

None

5

Activity

Points Awarded

Accepted Question Submittal

1 points per accepted question

Description

Verifiers can claim status maintenance points for proposed exam questions that are accepted for use in future SAC Higg Index FEM training exams.

Proposed questions will be evaluated by the VPM and deemed acceptable based on technical accuracy and relevance.

Verifiers will be notified via email of question acceptance and a refence number will be provided for each accepted question.

Records

Email from VPM indicating that question was accepted and added to the exam question bank

 

 

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