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During one of my document checks I asked an  accredited calibration agency for a copy of a calibration certificate be­cause I knew the ‘certificate’ on file was simply a Work Order issued by the technician who had checked the equip­ment, and which only referenced the certificate number. I wanted the correct certificate to be on file and listed in the Master Document List.

On the day of the assessment, despite many requests from the QAM, we still hadn’t received the certificate and, of course, the assessor wasn’t satisfied with the document we had on file. We faxed the calibration agency and informed them that we must have the proper certificate sometime that day. What we received was another copy of the Work Order used by the technician who had calibrated the equipment, with the original certificate number erased and another number hand-written above. Unfortunately, this came into the assessor’s hands as he was conferring with the QAM. I was standing to the side and he turned to me and commented that he considered it to be fraud (which it was). The Operations Manager put in a personal call to the subcontractor to request the certificate. The owner of the agency said that he wasn’t prepared to send a copy because “people sometimes altered the certificates in their own favour.” ! He did eventually agree to fax a copy to the assessor’s office.

Lesson: recognize the authenticity of the quality system documentation as well as the revision status.

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