Higg FEM Verification Program

1. Verification Introduction

What is verification?

Verification ensures that you accurately completed all parts of the Higg FEM – giving your self-assessment the credibility and accuracy required to share it publicly.

Verification of the FEM self-assessment is conducted by a third- or second-party SAC-approved verifier. The verifier is selected and hired to review a facility site. The verifier is the only person responsible for validating the accuracy of the assessment.

What is the difference between the vFEM and a traditional audit?

The Higg FEM is not a pass/fail audit. It is simply a means to verify you understood and answered the FEM self-assessment correctly. Verified data and scores provide trusted information on facility environmental performance, reducing the need for multiple proprietary audits.

Types of Verification

  • Onsite Verification: Verifier is required to visit the facility premises. If a facility wishes to publicly communicate Higg Index scoring they must complete onsite verification. Note: If a factory completes Level 2 and 3 questions in the Chemicals Management section, they must also select onsite verification.
  • Offsite Verification: Verifier is able to conduct the verification without going to the site, usually by other means such as e-mail, pictures, web-conference, etc.

Benefits of Verification

There are many benefits for Facilities to be verified by an SAC Higg Eligible Verifier:

  • The Verifier has been vetted to ensure they have proper experience and knowledge. Each Higg Eligible Verifier must:
    • Have education in an environmental-related field
    • Have knowledge of Environment laws, regulations, and systems
    • Have extensive experience in the verification on Environmental aspects in factory settings
  • The Verifier has received in-depth Higg training and passed a final exam and are therefore well-qualified to ensure questions are accurately answered and comparable from one facility to another.
  • Official Verified results are captured on Higg.org and can be:
    • Shared with business partners in lieu of having another verification conducted, therefore reducing or eliminating “audit fatigue”
    • Tracked, though time, demonstrating year-over-year improvement

2. Higg FEM Verification and Quality Assurance Protocols

  • Higg FEM Verification Protocol: This document outlines verification mindset, details on onsite and offsite verification, person-day guidance for conducting verification and many such important details.
  • Higg FEM Ethics Integrity Protocol: This document outlines how SAC/VPM will conduct ethics investigations and provides contact details to reach out to if any stakeholder would like to report ethics issues.
  • Higg FEM Verification Quality Assurance Manual – Issued: April 2020

This Quality Assurance Manual describes the quality assurance (QA) activities that are applied for the SAC Higg FEM Verification Program. QA activities are designed to ensure a qualified pool of SAC approved verifiers is available to Higg FEM users, and to ensure quality and integrity during the Higg FEM verification process. It includes a description of the goals and expected outcomes of QA processes and the specific procedures that define how QA activities are executed.

The purpose of Higg FEM QA is to provide high level oversight of Higg FEM Verification and to evaluate whether the verification process is producing consistent and accurate outcomes as per the related protocols and procedures, instead of focusing on the accuracy of particular assessments (Note that QA is not focused on the accuracy of specific verified assessments).

In case you have questions, write to us at howtohigg.org/requests.

3. Higg FEM Verifier Body and Verifier Protocols

  • Higg FEM Verifier Body Criteria – coming soon
  • Higg FEM VB Program Requirements Protocol – This document outlines the requirements that SAC approved Higg FEM Verifier Bodies (VBs) must meet to maintain their status as approved VBs in the SAC Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM) Program. Last Updated: March 10, 2021Higg FEM Verifier Code of Professional Conduct
  • Higg FEM Verifier Code of Professional Conduct: This document outlines the requirements that SAC approved Higg FEM Verifier Bodies (VBs) must meet to maintain their status as approved VBs in the SAC Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM) Program.
  • Higg FEM Verifier Status Maintenance (VSM) Protocol: This document outlines the requirements verifiers need to meet in order to maintain their status as a verifier.
  • Higg FEM Verifier Training Protocol: This document outlines the training verifiers will go through upon approval as a verifier, exam they need to complete and details about the post training survey.
  • Higg FEM Verifier Body List: This is the most updated list of approved FEM verifier bodies along with their contact information and regions of operation.

4. Verification Workflow

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  • Additional controls are at top right corner of expanded image

5. Additional Guidance

  • Guidance for Verifiers: Additional information and helpful guidance for completing the FEM verification.
  • Guidance for Facilities: Additional information and helpful guidance for completing the FEM self assessment and verification process. 

6. Fee Schedule for VBs

This document outlines the fees schedule required to be paid by Verifier Bodies.

7. FEM Training Program

FEM Training Protocol

The FEM Training Protocol contains procedures necessary to execute FEM Training by SAC Approved Trainer Bodies.

Trainer Code of Professional Conduct

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) expects individuals vetted and approved through the Training Program Manager to follow the principles outlined in the Sustainable Apparel Coalition Training Provider Code of Professional Conduct.

This document outlines the requirements that SAC approved Higg FEM Trainer Bodies (TBs) must meet to maintain their status as approved TBs in the SAC Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM) Program.