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Dakota Software's Blog for EHS and Sustainability Professionals

Why CAPA is Critical to EHS Management

August 2nd, 2022 by Dakota Software Staff

Why CAPA is Critical to EHS Management

No matter the industry, EHS leaders worldwide strive toward the same primary goals. They aim to provide employees with a safe workplace while lowering accident and injury rates and reducing EHS costs and risk. Corrective and Preventive Action (CAPA) is an essential tool that helps them get there by providing a path to identify, fix, and prevent safety and regulatory violations.

CAPA consists of two distinct parts: corrective actions and preventative actions. Corrective actions are reactive measures taken in response to a problem—referred to as non-conformance—that has already occurred. In contrast, preventive actions are proactive measures taken to address conditions that may potentially lead to a non-conformity.

Why is CAPA Important?

CAPA helps companies keep their employees and businesses safe while driving quality and safety performance across their entire organization. An effectively managed CAPA process can help organizations reduce EHS incidents, mitigate risk, and lower costs by providing valuable insight into their safety and compliance status. In addition, it allows organizations to shift from a reactive approach toward safety and compliance to a more manageable and proactive approach. Now, instead of running around putting out safety and compliance fires, CAPA pushes continuous improvement and frees up time for leadership to focus their attention on other goals.

The Principles of CAPA Management

CAPA follows the plan–do–check–act/adjust problem-solving model used for continuous improvement. PDCA is a straightforward, simple, and effective EHS management tool that consists of four parts.

  • Plan: Identify problems and how to fix them

  • Do: Test your plan

  • Check: Study the results

  • Act/Adjust: Implement or adjust your plan as necessary

You can see how the PDCA cycle plays a vital role in the CAPA process when you start to explore the different stages within CAPA. Here are the steps:

Identify the Non-Conformity: Sometimes, problems present themselves in the form of accidents, injuries, customer reviews, or regulatory inspectors pointing out violations. However, you also must search for potentially harmful issues with auditing, inspections, and reviews. You can't fix what you don't know. Therefore, identifying safety and regulatory non-conformities within your facilities and processes is a critical first step.

Determine Risk: Every issue does not require the same response. Non-conformities can be minor matters that only need slight adjustments or significant problems that can seriously damage a company. That is why effective CAPA programs must identify the risk and severity of non-conformities and then prioritize and allocate resources accordingly.

Identify the Root Cause: Without understanding why the non-conformity happened, you won't be able to develop effective, realistic solutions. Root cause analysis is a systematic approach to identifying the fundamental cause of problems and is crucial to incident management. Without root cause analysis, your solutions will likely be a short term remedy; they don't address the issue at its core and prevent reoccurrence.

Determine Corrective and Preventive Actions: Effective corrective and preventative actions directly address non-conformities and their root causes. They must be attainable for the organization and whoever is responsible for their execution. Also, ensure that anyone involved in the implementation understands their role, expectations, and the due date of the prescribed actions.

Verify Implementation and Effectiveness: This crucial step is where many organizations fail. They identify issues, create a solution, and tell someone to implement it but never follow up. Without the accountability created by systematically tracking, corrective and preventative actions tend to fall through the cracks. People get busy, forget, or sometimes don't put forth the required effort to close items. Tracking gives leadership insight into what is closed, on track, or off track and who is responsible. It also allows management to see if solutions have the intended effect and make changes if necessary.

How Software Improves CAPA Management

Corrective and preventative actions provide organizations with an easy-to-follow, step-by-step approach for identifying and fixing non-conformities. However, getting the most out of the process can be time-consuming and complicated, but software designed to manage the CAPA process can streamline everything.

First, finding what you need can be impossible when you spread your CAPA program across spreadsheets, calendars, and file cabinets. Unfortunately, this way of doing things also requires substantial administrative work. CAPA software centralizes and digitizes the process, allowing users to find what they need and automate many time-consuming administrative tasks like email alerts and notifications.

Second, corrective actions sometimes take days, months, or even years to complete. Without software, it's easy to see how action items can fall through the cracks as businesses evolve and people change roles. However, no matter the time frame, CAPA management software creates visibility and accountability so you can track all of your corrective actions and ensure nothing is forgotten.

Finally, CAPA software provides leaders across your organization with valuable insight into company regulatory compliance and other EHS matters. Information sharing lets your leadership team learn about the organization's risks and make informed choices to prevent future non-conformities.

Dakota Software Can Help

Dakota Tracer can automate your CAPA process and manage EHS compliance tasks and action items while providing real-time visibility into your compliance status across your organization. Its interactive dashboards allow you to explore CAPA data to identify trends and gaps in compliance. To demonstrate compliance, Tracer’s Event Log documents who did what and when and notifies Responsible Persons when pending action items are coming due or are past due.

Tracer also links to Dakota’s integrated Regulatory Database, allowing users to associate relevant citations, audit findings, and details to action items. This unique integration provides guidance to site staff and provides a consistent Knowledge Base so everyone has the necessary context to complete action items on time and accurately.

CAPA management software helps companies reap the rewards of CAPA programs without all the headaches. View Dakota’s demo library to learn more about how Dakota Tracer tracks compliance tasks, audit findings, and corrective actions, ultimately helping your organization create a safer, more compliant workplace.

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