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FSC Standards Interpretations


This section gives you access to current standard interpretations separated by topics and related normative documents.

FSC-STD-20-011 COC Evaluations


Question

FSC-STD-40-005, Annex 3 sets the minimum sampling rate for certificate holders to apply when selecting FMUs for their Annex 3 controlled wood supplier verification program. FSC-STD-20-011 defines the equation that CBs are required to use when selecting from FMUs included in the supplier verification program.

In cases where the certificate holder voluntarily decides to include a higher number of FMUs for field visits than is required by FSC-STD-40-005; is it acceptable for the CB to calculate their sample size on the minimum number required rather than the actual number of FMUs visited by the certificate holder?

For example, certificate holder is required to include 35 FMUs, but they select to increase their sample size to 60. Is the CB required to sample 5 FMUs (0.8 * √35) or 7 FMUs (0/8 * √60)?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-20-011-V 1-1
Requirement(s) 10.10
Published Friday, 11. April 2014
Answer

FSC does not want to discourage certificate holders from electing to sample CW suppliers at higher rates.

It is acceptable for the CB to base their sample size on the minimum number required to be included in the supplier field visits as per FSC-STD-40-005, Annex 3, 1.8., provided the CB has analyzed the reason(s) for extending the sampling rate by the certificate holder and the CB has come to the conclusion that the minimum sampling rate is sufficient to verify unspecified risk in the given conditions.

In the example above, the CB would calculate their minimum sample size to be 5 FMUs.


Question

According to a PSU interpretation, surveillance evaluations shall take place at least once per calendar year for FM audits and at least once per calendar year, but not later than 15 months after the last audit for CoC audits.
However, FSC-STD-20-007 and FSC-STD-20-011 require minor non-conformities in FM and CoC to be fully corrected within one year (under exceptional circumstances within two years in CoC).
If there are outstanding minor non-conformities to be evaluated, shall a surveillance evaluation take place within the next 12 months to have the CAR closed?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-20-007 / FSC-STD-20-011
Requirement(s) 8.10.1 / 4.5.1
Published Thursday, 20. February 2014
Answer

If an onsite surveillance evaluation is required to confirm the correction of the outstanding minor non –conformity, the audit shall take place within the 12 month period.
If an outstanding minor non-conformity can be closed by evidence not requiring an onsite evaluation, the normal audit timelines can be followed.


Question

Can an on-site audit exceptionally be replaced by a desk audit if the organization is located in a country or region with an actual demonstrated security risk for the life or health of auditors?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-20-011 V1-1
Requirement(s) Clause 9.3; 19.1
Published Thursday, 21. November 2013
Answer

In the case of a demonstrated security risk for the life or health of auditors, the CB may apply for derogation from PSU to replace an on-site audit by a desk audit. The application shall include:
a) Certificate code of the company;
b) Activities under the scope of the certificate (products and processes);
c) Evidences of security risks confirmed through verifiable public sources (e.g. an official travel warning);
d) Other additional information, as required by FSC.
Derogation applications will be evaluated on a case by case basis.


Question

In 2012 the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) changed from a scale of 0-10 to a scale of 0-100. Shall the new 0-100 CPI scale be implemented in FSC normative documents that currently still reference the previous 0-10 scale system?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-40-005, FSC-STD-20-011, FSC-DIR-40-005, FSC-STD-20-011
Requirement(s) Applies to all requirements where the CPI is mentioned.
Published Friday, 06. September 2013
Answer

Yes, CPI references in FSC normative documents using the 0-10 scale system shall be converted to the new scale.
A reference to a CPI index threshold ʻ5ʼ based on the old scale system becomes a CPI index ʻ50ʼ applying the new scale.


Question

FSC considers outsourcing across national borders to countries with Corruption Perception Index (CPI) lower than 5 as high risk activity. If a company based in China establishes an outsourcing agreement with another company situated in Hong Kong, is this situation considered as cross-border outsourcing?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-20-011 V1-1
Requirement(s) Clause 2.1.1.f
Published Wednesday, 29. May 2013
Answer

Recognizing that Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, FSC does not consider the outsourcing activity of a company based in Hong Kong to a company based in mainland China to be cross-board outsourcing in the context of FSC-STD-20-011 V1-1 Clause 2.1.1.f


Question

Is it acceptable to audit loggers through desk audit when the logger does not have a log yard to visit?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-20-011 V1-1
Requirement(s) Clause 9.4
Published Tuesday, 23. April 2013
Answer

Yes. The desk audit is applicable to loggers holding a FSC Chain of Custody certificate and that do not have a log yard. The desk audit shall cover all applicable standard requirements of FSC-STD-40-004 V2-1, except the ones that only apply to COC certificates with physical possession of products, namely Clauses 2.2, 3.4, 5.1, Part II (8 Percentage System, 9 Credit System) and Part IV. Evaluation against the standard requirements related to labeling of products are only required when the FSC label is used by the logger.


Question

Clause 2.2.1 of FSC-STD-20-011 specifies the criteria for high risk outsourcing. Are there any exceptions to that rule?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-20-011 V1-1
Requirement(s) Clause 2.2.1
Published Tuesday, 23. April 2013
Answer

Yes. Even when one or more of the high risk indicators indicated in Clause 2.2.1 apply to the outsourced activity, the Certification Body may approve the low risk categorization if a low risk of contamination may be demonstrated through:

a) The product is permanently labelled or marked in a way that the contractor cannot alter or exchange products (e.g. heat brand, printed materials);
b) The product is palletized, or otherwise maintained as a secure unit that is not broken apart during outsourcing;
c) There is no risk of contamination, as the contractor handles exclusively the materials from the contracting organization in its facilities during outsourcing;
d) The contractor is employed for services that do not involve manufacture or transformation of certified products (e.g. warehousing, storage, distribution, logistics)

NOTE: Outsourcing across national borders to countries with Corruption Perception Index (CPI) lower than 5 is always considered high risk activity.


Question

May compliance with minor nonconformities be evaluated at the next surveillance (or re-evaluation) audit, as opposed to within one year, to account for instances when the next surveillance audit will occur after the one year deadline?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-20-011 V2-0, FSC-STD-20-007 V3-0.
Requirement(s) Clauses 4.5 and 8.10.
Published Wednesday, 16. May 2012
Answer

For Forest Management:

Compliance shall be established by the Certificate Holder within the deadline established in the Corrective Action Request, which is specified by the Certification Body according to clause 8.10 in FSC-STD-20-007.

Field evaluations by the Certification Body to verify the implementation of the corrective action shall be conducted no later than 15 months after the CAR has been issued.

For Chain of Custody:

Compliance shall be established by the Certificate Holder within the deadline established in the Corrective Action Request, which is specified by the Certification Body according to clause 4.5 in FSC-STD-20-011.

Field evaluations (if needed) by the Certification Body to verify the implementation of the corrective action shall be conducted no later than 10 working days exceeding the deadline established in the CAR.


Question

When does the given timeline commence for correction of non-conformities?

Normative Reference FSC-STD-20-011 V1-1
Requirement(s) Clause 4.5, 4.6
Published Friday, 15. April 2011
Answer

The given timeline commences from the moment when the corrective action request is either formally accepted by or formally presented to the certificate holder (whichever happens first).