The certification of entities in charge is carried out in line with Commission Regulation (EU) No 445/2011 of 10 May 2011 on a system of certification of entities in charge of maintenance for freight wagons and amending Regulation (EC) No 653/2007. Specific guidelines concerning certification are included in “The ECM Certification Scheme” developed by the European Railway Agency.
The ECM certification process can be divided into a few basic stages. Within the first stage the submitted documents are verified in terms of formal requirements. Later an evaluation team is selected to carry out an audit and inspection of the workshop at the applicant’s site. The team usually consists of three auditors, one of which is a lead auditor. The team arranges the date of the audit with the applicant; usually its duration is three days.
In the period preceding the on-site audit and inspection, the evaluation team analyses the safety management system documentation in respect of the criteria included in Annex III to Regulation No 445/2011. This is followed by an on-site verification of the applicant’s ability to implement the system and of the management of activities associated with maintenance and with the performance of operation functions related to maintenance.
In the event of finding any irregularities during the audit, the entity is obliged to analyse the flaw, specify its causes and develop a plan which specifies the actions necessary to remove it, including deadlines. According to “The ECM Certification Scheme”, the applicant has 15 business days for this. The plan is later verified by the lead auditor. After a positive assessment of the plan, the applicant begins its implementation. In the event of non-critical inconsistencies, a positive assessment of the action plan enables the case to be referred to the so-called Certification Committee.
A slightly different procedure applies in the case of critical inconsistencies. Following the acceptance of the plan by the lead auditor, the applicant is obliged to implement it and send the relevant evidence to the Office. The confirmations are verified by the lead auditor, and following their acceptance the lead auditor submits to the Certification Committee the documentation, with recommendations on the final decision as to the issuance of the certificate.
After the completion of the stage associated with removing inconsistencies, the Certification Committee begins its activities aimed at verifying the regularity of the whole process. After analysing the documentation with the evaluation team’s recommendation, the Committee issues its assessment. The final decision on the issuing of the certificate lies with the President of UTK.
Pursuant to Article 7 (3) of Regulation No 445/2011 the certification body shall take a decision no later than 4 months after obtaining all the required information. However, it should be emphasised that in accordance with “The ECM Certification Scheme” the maximum time for removing inconsistencies is six months. In the case of critical inconsistencies, the necessity to submit evidence of their removal causes an extension of the certificate issuance procedure by the time needed for resolving any issues, i.e. in the least-favourable scenario the certification process can last up to ten months.