QA Program On-Site Visits


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The QA Program established minimum requirements for participation in the program.  On-site visits recognized contractors allow the program to see first-hand how these minimum requirements are being met.  The primary objective of the visits are to to ensure that participants are meeting minimum program requirements; it also will provide feedback regarding company policies..

During the next few weeks,a number of QA Contractors will be visited to evaluate how well they are complying with their company policies.  This article summarizes what contractors should expect and what happens next during the on-site visit.

Background

In August 2012 the QA Program began the first of many on-site visits to QA Contractors across the country.  Some of you have received a notice regarding the planned visitto the company office;which is intended to provide objective feedback regarding company operations.  The visit focuses on company operations rather than installations in the field, so visits to job sites will not be necessary.  In the future those types of visits may be incorporated; but, for now, only the “office” will be visited.

ACCA recognizes the value of documenting common business practices and procedures.  Clearpolicies lay the groundwork for consistent business operations, and for consistent delivery of high quality HVAC installations,which is the primary purpose of the QA Program.Standardized operating proceduresrange from how to answer a phone call to oversight of field installations.  HVAC contractors and industry stakeholders developed a set of business practices that support the company in consistently achieving the level of workmanship required by the QI Standard.  These basic business practices have become more commonly known as the QA Elements (https://www.acca.org/Files/?id=712) and are required for participation in the QA Program.

It is understood that some HVAC companies may not have “official” written company policies and procedures that address the QA Elements: business prerequisites, business operations, training and certifications, and customer relations.  In response, sample customizable examples of policies and procedures were developed for your consideration.  These policy templates are meant to be demonstrative of the types of policies and procedures that QA Participants are expected to have in place to meet minimum program requirements.  Some companies may have policies in place at that are much more detailed than the one offered within this document.  The sample policies (https://www.acca.org/Files/?id=844) are meant to be a resource that can be customized as deemed appropriate.

What is Expected

As part of the on-site visit, you will receive a request for your company policies regarding some of the QA Elements.  Copies of these policies will be stored with other sensitive company information provided during the application process.  The information submitted in your company’s policies, procedures, forms, and other information will not be shared.

The owner, president, general manager, or other primary point of contact is not required to be present, although they are welcome to attend every aspect of the visit.  A company representative who is familiar with the elements under review is requested to be available in order to promote clear understanding during the visit.

What to Expect

Based on the company’s policies that are submitted, questions will be developed and posed to the company representative during the on-site visit.  The questions will be objective in nature and the responses to satisfy the questions will be yes or no answers, supporting documentation, or other evidencethat is either available or it is not.  This documentation, or other evidence, will be requested during the visit to demonstrate that the policy is being properly followed.  This visit will focus on the specified QA Elements for which copies of policies were requested.  However; based on observations during the visit, every QA Element is subject to review.  The length of time for the visit will vary based on our discussions and findings, although no more than one hour will be required.

So, what if there is a hiccough, what if there is a QA Element that is not being met?  The answer to this question is…it depends.  If a problem is found that can be corrected immediately (e.g., a missing document is printed and insertedin a file) then no deficiency is recorded.  If problems are found that cannot be quickly remedied (e.g., nonexistent calibration records, and failure to meet fleet maintenance requirements) then the infractions are noted as aFinding of Noncompliance and the QA Contractor is required to take action (see Section 7.1 of the QA Participant Requirements – https://www.acca.org/Files/?id=710).  If two Findings of Noncompliance are noted (e.g., several deficiencies that add up to one Finding of Noncompliance,and an employee is disposing of mercury thermostats in the sewer drain) then the infractions require more stringent action (see Section 7.2).  If three Findings of Noncompliance are noted then the QA Contractor shall be dismissed from the program (see Section 7.3).

Summary

Quality contractors are expected to comply with the QA Elements as they serve their customers, meet federal business requirements, and follow soundindustry practices.  As stated, the on-site visit is primarily a feedback mechanism for the QA Contractor.  It is meant to evaluate how well the standard operating procedures that have been implemented to promote consistent quality installations are actually being followed.

We look forward to visiting with QA Contractors across this great land, meeting the leaders that are setting the standard for others to follow, and offering these HVAC principals constructive beneficial observations.

wes.davis@acca.org

Posted In: Residential Buildings, Technical Tips

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