Delta Environmental Consulting Management Manual
NOTE: This is a controlled document, as are all management system files on this server. Any documents appearing in paper form are not controlled and should be checked against the server file version prior to use.
Revised: 9 August 2013 (Dropbox details in Sections 11/12)
Use of this Manual: This webpage contains the Delta Environmental Consulting Management Manual, described in the "Section" column of the contents table below. Each of the 24 sections is linked to a portion of the webpage below the contents table. These "Sections" describe the overall principles of how all aspects of the business are managed. The two columns headed "Related Procedure" and "Instructions" contain links to separate documents that contain details of the management of specific aspects.
Management of the Quality System
Control of Critical Documents and Records
Training and Work Instructions
Inspection and Control of Substandard Work
Delta Environmental Consulting was established to serve the environmental consulting needs of businesses operating in the Fitzroy River Delta region of Queensland. It was initially aimed at the provision of services to the solar salt making industry, aquaculture and regional cattle industries.
This focus expanded after the company relocated to South Australia, and clients now include local community groups, regional development organisations, councils, the mining industry, agriculture and the education sector.
Delta primarily provides information to enable clients to make environmentally sound decisions about their businesses. Processes involved in supplying that information may include: environmental surveys, design of monitoring or research programs, biological monitoring and testing, literature reviews, computer-assisted analysis and modeling, scientific illustration and report preparation.
This Management System relates to the full range of our activities.
The company's quality, safety, conduct and environmental policy are summarised in the Quality, Safety and Environment Policy document. To ensure staff, supplier and customer data is managed appropriately the company has an Information Technology Fair Use Policy.
The terms and descriptions used in this manual are generally defined within the Q-Base Code. Additionally terms from ISO9000 - Quality Systems and ISO14000 - Environmental Management Systems have been incorporated.
Additional definitions apply for items not covered by the documents:
The Management System applies to all activities of Delta Environmental Consulting, and has been developed in accordance with the Q-Base code (certification number 8574), with reference to additional items from ISO9000 and ISO14000. The Management System is fully documented and structured in 3 levels:
Level 1 : Management Systems Manual
This document. This Manual details the quality and environmental policies and structure of the company and references appropriate Operating Procedures.
Levels 2 & 3: Operating Procedures and Instructions
These documents describe the actual processes undertaken, and controls applied, to all activities concerned with the attainment of a quality assured consulting and laboratory service.
Supporting documentation such as reference manuals, on-line Internet manuals, and bibliographies of printed materials in Delta's library are also defined and/or linked to this manual.
Procedures may be accessed from the Contents section of this Management System Manual. Control of documentation and stylistic requirements are detailed in the Document Control Procedure. Bibliographies of supporting materials (internet and paper documents) are accessed from the Table of Contents.
As Delta operates a standard type and range of services, customer satisfaction and quality are achieved by operation in accordance with the documented management system. Specific customer requirements are identified and documented during the Contract Review process, allowing these requirements to be communicated and achieved, ensuring satisfaction of all customer declared needs. Delta personnel shall follow recognised protocols and use standard methods wherever possible to ensure validity of all research undertaken. Annually, management shall undertake the Management Review Procedure to determine areas of quality that require improvement.
Environmental aspects of Delta's operations are identified in the Environmental Aspect Matrix. This matrix is reviewed annually to ensure its currency, when management undertakes the Management Review Procedure.
Legal and other requirements
Legislation relating to environmental duty changes frequently. Management shall annually determine any recent changes to legislative and regulatory requirements when undertaking the Management Review Procedure. While some hardcopy legislation is maintained by Delta and a bibliography of the relevant legislation and hardcopy locations is maintained in the Bibliographies, the company uses on-line legislation archives to maintain currency.
Environmental objectives and targets
Delta's environmental objectives and targets are identified in the chart Targets and Objectives
Environmental Management Program
Achievement of the company's environmental targets and objectives is facilitated by the use of a documented Environmental Management Program. The program shall include responsibilities for achieving the targets and objectives, a timeframe for each item and a measurable outcome.
Safety planning is assessed using the OH&S audit, and issues are addressed in the Safety Plan.
Delta's continued financial growth is facilitated through its Business Plan.The company keeps financial record to meet its fiscal and legal obligations. Monthly record keeping is conducted as specified in the Monthly Account Keeping Instructions. Our customers may elect to pay us by cash, cheque, direct deposit, BPAY or credit card (Mastercard and Visa). We ensure all sensitive personal, financial and business data is protected, by abiding by our Information Technology Fair Use Policy and by processing customers' financial details as specified in our Processing Customer Credit Card Payments Instruction. Details of our netweok and data security maangement practices are outlined in section 2.14 of the business' Operations Plan (part of the Business Plan).This ensures we meet the requirements of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS).
Delta Environmental Consulting is a sole trader business, working in collaboration with other independent consultants, solely with its own staff, or with sub-contractors. Click here for the organisation chart.
6.1.1 All team members are allocated with authority to perform their responsibilities. The following provides a summary of the principal responsibilities of each job role, and these are clarified in greater detail within the Operating Procedures.
6.1.2 Delta is foremost a family business, with high levels of energy and enthusiasm. All members of the Delta team share the authority and responsibility for identifying possible improvements or non-conformances to our standards. All such shall be recorded so that corrective action can be taken, both to rectify the immediate situation and to prevent any recurrence.
6.1.3 The principal consultant continually reviews the company’s resources to ensure that adequate staff, equipment and materials are available to meet customer requirements.
All members of the Delta team are responsible for complying with the Management System, in the areas of quality, conduct, safety and environment. All members of the team shall comply with the Guidelines for ethical behaviour in all their dealings. Job descriptions for the classes of principal consultant and technician, trainee or assistant are provided. Information technology support is supplied on an 'at call' basis by IT specialists.
This Management System is structured to meet the Q-Base Code. The system is also structured with policy statements relating to each area of activity within the relevant sections of ISO9001 and ISO14000. Q-Base has been chosen as certification standard as it is expressly designed for smaller businesses.
Management review of the suitability and effectiveness of the Management System shall take place at least annually according to the Management Review Procedure. The review shall be formally written up in the Management Review Diary to record the development of the management system.
The objectives of Management Review are:
a) To establish that the Management System is achieving the expected results and meeting our requirements, continuing to conform to the Standards, continuing to satisfy the customers needs and expectations, and functioning in accordance with the established Operating Procedures.
b) To expose irregularities or defects in the System, identify weaknesses and evaluate possible improvements.
c) To review the effectiveness of previous corrective actions, and to review the adequacy and suitability of the Management System for current and future operations.
d) To review any complaints received, identify the cause and recommend corrective action if required.
e) To review the finding of internal/ external audits and identify any areas of recurring problems or potential improvements.
f) To review the reports of nonconforming items and trend information to identify possible improvements.
External audits by trained auditors from outside the company are to be conducted as specified by the Q-Base Code. Nonconformances observed are brought to the attention of the person responsible, and are recorded, documented and subject to timely corrective action to ensure full rectification. Internal audits of the Management System are undertaken by the business owner as part of the annual management review. A section, or setions, of the management system is audited each year and the results recorded in the Management Reveiw Diary.
Delta offers specialist services to meet each customer’s needs. Specialist service requirements differ from one customer to another (and from one contract to another), therefore each contract tends to be specifically quoted.
Before a proposal is provided to the customer, or an order is accepted, it is recorded and reviewed by the senior consultant to establish that the requirements of the order are adequately defined and documented, and that we are capable of fully satisfying the customers requirements.
It is essential to fully understand the extent of a customer's requirements. For example, a client may simply request a flora survey when they actually require an environmental impact assessment. Attempt to place the client's request in context - for example, "A flora survey that will enable us to map the different habitats" or, "A management plan to guide us over the next decade" or, "An on-ground works program that our volunteers can undertake in the next two years" or, "A flora survey that will identify all plant species on the site, with a map of vegetation communities and an assessment of the impact of a development in a given area, with plans to mitigate those impacts".
Hourly rates and fees are listed in the Charges and Fees register. To assist natural resource management customers in selecting the services they require, a table showing options and price ranges for activities commonly required for biodiversity management planning has been prepared. Development proposals may require many of the same activities (surveys, mapping etc), however an additional range of services is required - the assessment of impacts and the development of mitigation plans/options. Monitoring programs and research projects require highly individualised quoting, and the assistance of a senior member of the Delta team should be used to ensure the project is correctly quoted. Laboratory services are priced as specified in the Charges and Fees register.
Personnel need to determine the required manpower, equipment, vehicular travel, accommodation, secretarial, stationery and institutional charges the project is likely to incur. A timeline shall be constructed that provides indicative dates for all stages of the project. It is sufficient to use a spreadsheet for this, however project management software may also be utilised. Prior to presenting a proposal to a client, personnel must check that all required personnel are available during the allotted timeframe.
A draft of the proposal is checked by a senior consultant and then provided to the client for comment. The final contract is accepted after any changes to the proposal are resolved with the customer. A table to be used for recording draft stages is included in the front of the Delta proposal template.
In addition to the original order/ contract specification the customer may also request additional / variation work to be undertaken. In these circumstances the work content is documented and agreed with the customer prior to execution, to ensure that no ambiguity exists.
When a client provides verbal instructions only, these are to be confirmed by email.
Design activities involve both design of methods and programs of work for use within the company and for specific client contracts. Design is frequently undertaken in these fields:
Graphics and layout work for clients
Design of monitoring programs for clients
Design of bioassessment methods (in-house)
Design and development of laboratory methods (in-house)
Design of research projects (in-house)
In all cases personnel responsible for designing or developing a process, procedure or product shall follow the Design and Development Procedure.
All documentation that is part of the management system itself is controlled as specified below.
Such documentation typically includes: Proposals, Customer Orders, finalised Project Documentation, Plans/ Drawings, and the Management System Manual/ Operating Procedures & Instructions.
The Management System Manual, Procedures, Test Methods, Instructions and Environment Plans are maintained by the senior consultant, on the main computer system. This copy of these documents is the current revision. All paper copies are UNCONTROLLED copies and should be checked against the computer for current status. Staff may print copies for immediate use, or to put forward suggested changes. All changes to Management System documents are reviewed and approved by the senior consultant, who is authorised to enter them into the computer. All documents forming part of the Management System Manual are detailed in the Document Control Procedure and can be accessed from the Contents table at the beginning of this document.
Bibliographies of legislation, codes of practice and national/international Standards are maintained by the senior consultant. Where possible, on-line access to documents (eg legislation) is maintained to ensure documentation is up-to-date.
Correspondence and customer orders are contained within each job's Project Documentation file. These uniquely identified files also contain all relevant information related to that project. Information may also be held on the company's computer system for ease of access and manipulation, in the Documents Directories of the main computer only. The Documents Directories on the main computer are accessible on the network and are backed up to Dropbox (cloud storage) automatically. Where clients require electronic, as well as hard, copies, these shall be provided on suitable media (eg CDROM, USB sticks or memory cards) or may be made available for a period via a shared Dropbox link or on Delta's client secure document store. All final reports are filed in the reports bookcase, in order of project identifier. An electronic version of each final report is also kept. A Register of all reports, lab notebooks, fieldbooks and their identifiers shall be maintained.
When customers ask for a written Proposal, these are provided, and they are archived in the Proposals directory allocated for them.
Laboratory records are permanently recorded on archival quality CSIRO laboratory notebooks as specified in the Field and Test Methods Procedure. These books have a table of contents to enable easy location of information.
Storage facilities are allocated which ensure that all stored records are identifiable and retrievable, and the storage areas are free from damp and other agents that could cause premature deterioration.
Where records are maintained only on computer magnetic media, these are "backed-up" at regular intervals to Dropbox, with the "back-up" information being stored off-site in cloud storage.The Dropbox account also has an additional Packrat option that maintains earlier versions of files.
All records are retained for a minimum of five years.
Suppliers of products, materials and services, where unspecified by a customer contract, are selected on their ability to meet Delta's requirements, giving due consideration to the quality, statutory obligations, timescale and cost. A list of approved suppliers and sub-contractors is maintained and reviewed annually through the Management Review Procedure. Suppliers are selected using the following criteria:-
a) Previous performance in supplying to similar specifications and requirements.
b) Stocking of high volume standard items conforming to a relevant Australian Standard, or supplied with a statement of conformity.
c) Compliance with an approved third party product/ quality registration scheme.
d) Recommendation by other similar purchasers or manufacturers of equipment.
e) A trial order and evaluation of performance.
f) Compliance with an approved third party environmental management system registration scheme.
Receipts must be obtained for all purchases and provided to the senior consultant for filing in the taxation files. Small purchases (less than $300) do not require approval from the senior consultant, but above this amount obtain approval.
All supplies and sub-contracts with a value above $300.00 are ordered in writing (email, fax or letter) providing full clarification of the type and extent of supply, unless a staff member is purchasing them in person from a supplier, so that they can establish whether the product meets the business' needs. No particular format for orders is required, as long as the order is dated, and a description of the quantity and type of goods appears along with details allowing contact with the supplier. The important point is to print them off and file them in the purchasing orders folder in the main office, so that an eye may be kept on the arrival of the ordered goods. As goods arrive, they must be checked off against orders in this folder.
All receipts provided for goods or services purchased should be filed in the "Purchase Receipts" hanging file in the main office filing cabinet so that they can be recorded in the monthly accounts.
Should a supplier, not appearing on the Approved Suppliers List be proposed, they will be analysed by capability and subject to acceptance on the authority of the senior consultant.
Goods received from customers (i.e. free issue items or equipment being serviced) are always visually inspected at the receipt stage, with any un-declared non-conformance being immediately reported to the customer.
All productive work is planned and undertaken in accordance with the company's procedures, and any specific documents agreed for individual contracts (e.g. contract specifications).
Work instructions may be specified in a client's contract with Delta, alternatively work is performed in accordance with nationally accepted codes of practice. Field procedures and test methods are discussed in the document "Field and Test Methods" and may be accessed from the Table of Contents.
The identification of materials/ equipment, where it is not obvious, is confirmed by the presence of a manufacturers/ suppliers part number or description label, or other marking for each item. The identification of the item may be on the packaging or on the item itself, and this identification remains in place for as long as possible, provided it does not hamper effective use of the item. Materials and consumables are not identified by the company where they are obvious to a trained/ experienced employee, however, should a risk of misinterpretation exist between two or more types of material these will be marked in a suitable manner to ensure that no ambiguity exists.
All items with serial numbers are recorded individually in the Equipment Register.
Materials and goods received, whether the property of the company or others, will, as far as practicable, be protected and their quality preserved until such time as they are transferred to a customer, or disposed of. The objective is to prevent deterioration and damage whilst in storage.
Chemicals and other hazardous substances pose additional storage issues, and shall be stored as detailed in the Hazardous Substances Register.
Delivery of reports and other finished products shall be effected by Australia Post. Speedier delivery of data via facsimile or email may be requested by the customer. When the final product is delivered this way, copies should be maintained as for normal reports.
The policy of the company is to ensure that all personnel are trained and experienced to the extent necessary to undertake their assigned activities and responsibilities. The company generally employs staff/subcontractors capable of meeting the technical, skill, safety awareness, experience and educational requirements of the company's activities, both in the laboratory and in the field. However, no training provides familiarity with all possible methods, and where staff require extra training, it is provided, either in-house (for specific tasks) or by providing registration in an approved training course.
Training needs are identified by the staff themselves and by the Senior Consultant. The senior consultant is responsible for recommending the additional training needs of others, and for ensuring personnel allocated specific tasks are suitably qualified and experienced to execute those tasks. Records are maintained of all staff training, in the Training Matrix.
Delta's essential product is not amenable to statistical quality analysis, however there is a place for statistics in the analysis of monitoring and assessment data collected for clients, and in the development of laboratory and field methods. Regression, averages, ranges and histograms are commonly used in these areas. When personnel undertake the analysis of data for any purpose, they shall ensure they use recognised techniques, appropriately chosen. The text "Standard Methods of Water and Wastewater Analysis" contains advice on statistics in the laboratory, and assorted biological statistics books are contained in the bookcases at each site. Some Australian Standards (eg Contaminated sites testing) contain recommended statistical measures. Where such advice is provided in a standard method or protocol, it shall be mandatory.
Some mathematical tools such as temperature/salinity corrections for measurements, or spreadsheets containing spectrometer standard curves are used regularly. These are stored on the main network computer in the "Mathematical and modelling tools" directory. Where these tools may be useful in a fieldwork situation, they may be made available on the intenet. Currrently available spreadsheets for fieldwork use include one for correcting dissolved oxygen readings for salinity, and another for correcting hydrometer readings for temperature.
Bibliographies are maintained as a resource for Delta personnel. They cover legislature, field methods and laboratory methods. The bibliographies contain references to books and articles held in the Delta library, and links to on-line resources. It is expected that scientific personnel working with Delta are best able to determine the methods they require in any given situation, however the company prefers the use of standard methods, or at least well referenced developmental methods.
All stores areas are maintained as securely as practical. All items received by Delta are identified and verified in accordance with the requirements of the Delivery Note and/or Purchase Order, and are inspected for correct identity, quantity and any signs of damage. All goods received are to be checked off against the order in the Purchase Orders folder in the main office
In the event of non-conformance in a goods received, the item is labeled with a sticker to ensure identification. The extent of the non-conformance is noted and receiving personnel shall contact the supplier. A note regarding the problem shall be added to the purchase order in the Purchase Orders folder in the main office.
Review of the product (usually reports, but sometimes maps and plans, design work or drawings, or computer software) shall be undertaken upon completion of the project as specified in the Document Control Procedure. Prior to despatch to the client all products will be checked by the principal consultant (for all products bearing the Delta banner) or by the independent contractor (where the product is produced under their banner) to ensure they meet contract requirements and are produced to the standard specified in the Procedures.
The client shall be offered the opportunity to comment on a draft of the product prior to accepting the final version of the product. Final versions of reports shall be copied and filed. The filed report shall be identified with a project documentation code.
Production (computers, printers, drawing equipment, laboratory glassware, containers, laboratory chemicals) and measuring equipment (test equipment, microscopes, scales) is maintained in good condition, and is capable of safe and effective operation within a specified tolerance of accuracy. Test and measuring equipment is regularly inspected or calibrated to ensure that it is capable of accurate operation, by comparison with external sources traceable back to National Standards.
Electrostatic protection equipment is utilized when handling sensitive components, and this equipment is regularly checked to ensure that it remains fully functional.
To ensure testing is regular, the Calibration and Testing Plan shall be followed.
As equipment is inspected, any nonconforming equipment shall be marked with a "recalibration required" or "repair required" sticker.
The status of work in progress is established by associated documentation. Laboratory notebooks are signed by the team member as each page is completed. Proposals and reports carry a table in the first few pages detailing the review stage of the document. These are filled in as the review process progresses.
Once non-conforming items have been noticed they are identified by location, associated documents, or specific markings to prevent their inadvertent use. Notify the Senior Consultant, who shall decide whether the item is to be repaired or replaced.
Customer complaints are subject to review and rectification by the Senior Consultant or nominated personnel. The type and extent of non-conformity is documented in order to establish trends and identify possible areas for improvement. The corrective action required to prevent recurrence is evaluated, documented, and its effective implementation is monitored as outlined in the Corrective Action Procedure. All rectification is subsequently re-inspected to ensure complete customer satisfaction.
All employees are encouraged to suggest improvements in methods, materials, suppliers, and sub-contractors. Delta has established procedures for review (Management Review Procedure) of all activities in order to identify and evaluate all possible improvements in methods/ materials and its procedures.