5. Personnel and Training
Quality Assurance Personnel
Employee Training Procedure
Employee Training Record
Establishing a quality system should be an integrated and universal effort. A total quality systems approach should be designed to satisfy the particular quality, safety, and performance needs of a specific manufacturer, product, and user-market. Employees play a vital role in achieving these objectives. Obviously, employees need to be aware of the details of the quality system and how to meet them. The Quality System (QS) regulation supports these goals by requiring that a manufacturer have sufficient qualified personnel and by requiring quality awareness training for personnel [820.25(a)]. Management with executive responsibility shall ensure their quality policy is understood, implemented, and maintained at all levels of the organization. This should be accomplished by supplying sufficient resources, training, responsibility, and authority to all managing personnel that will enable them to perform their tasks.
Personnel involved in design, manufacturing, quality assurance, auditing, complaint processing, servicing, etc., should be properly trained, both by education and experience. No matter how effective quality assurance and production systems are as concepts, people still play the major role in designing and producing a quality product. Lack of training -- as reflected in instances of negligence, poor operating techniques, or the inability of employees to discharge their functions properly -- can lead to defective products and, sometimes, to regulatory or liability problems.
Employee attitude is the most important personnel factor that can assure an effective quality system. By management setting an excellent example and through effective training, quality consciousness should be developed in every employee. Each person should be made aware of the importance of his or her individual contributions in the overall effort to achieve an acceptable level of quality.
The role of management in this vital awareness effort cannot be passive -- management should be diligent in looking for factors that indicate a need for employee training [820.25(b)]. A quality system should include an ongoing formal program for training all personnel. All personnel should be made aware that product quality is not solely the responsibility of management or any other single group. Quality is the responsibility of every employee -- any employee can generate a quality problem through ignorance of their job requirements or negligence.
It is not unusual for FDA investigators to conduct factory inspections and observe employees who are clearly unaware of situations that can result in poor device quality. These employees obviously have not been properly instructed on what activities or conditions will directly cause defective devices or that can lead to mixups, contamination, or other problems that can cause non-conforming devices. For example, an improperly maintained piece of manufacturing equipment may eventually have disastrous consequences on finished devices. Therefore, the employee charged with maintaining the equipment, as well as the operator of the equipment, should be made aware of conditions that reflect a need for maintenance.
FDA investigators have observed employees: smoking near or sweeping dust into open processing tanks where the smoke and dust would destroy the usefulness of the device; blowing smoke or sweeping dust onto devices to be sterilized; handling delicate devices while wearing rings or other jewelry; wearing gloves with holes or rubbing their nose and continuing to handle devices that need to comply with bioburden requirements; wearing cleanroom clothing into uncontrolled areas; and other poor practices such as leaving windows or doors open in controlled environmental areas.
FDA investigators were advised by management that it is the manufacturer's policy not to allow the above situations to occur. The implementation of this policy is questionable. Are these employees originally and then periodically reminded of the reason: for not smoking, eating, and wearing rings; and for personal cleanliness, and other employee requirements? People respond better when they know why they are allowed or not allowed to do certain activities - not just being told that it is company policy.
The QS regulation requires in section 820.25 that each manufacturer shall have sufficient personnel with the necessary education, background, training, and experience to assure that all activities required by this part are correctly performed. [The requirement for sufficient trained personnel is also covered by resource requirements in 820.20(b)(2) as follows. Each manufacturer shall provide adequate resources, including the assignment of trained personnel, for management, performance of work, and assessment activities, including internal quality audits, to meet the requirements of this part.]
Each manufacturer shall establish procedures for identifying training needs and ensure that all personnel are trained to adequately perform their assigned responsibilities. Training shall be documented.
As part of their training, personnel shall be made aware of device defects which may occur from the improper performance of their specific jobs. [In addition to training, personnel also have to be notified if they are responsible for nonconforming product. The intent is to prevent or reduce nonconforming product. Each manufacturer shall establish and maintain procedures to control product that does not conform to specified requirements [820.90(a)]. The procedures shall address the identification, documentation, evaluation, segregation, and disposition of nonconforming product. The evaluation of nonconformance shall include a determination of the need for an investigation and notification of the persons or organizations responsible for the nonconformance. The evaluation and any investigation shall be documented.]
Personnel who perform verification and validation shall be made aware of defects and errors that may be encountered as part of their job functions. There are also personnel requirements in 820.70(d) and 820.75(b)(1) as follows. Each manufacturer shall establish and maintain requirements for the health, cleanliness, personal practices, and clothing of personnel if contact between such personnel and product or environment could reasonably be expected to have an adverse effect on product quality. The manufacturers shall ensure that maintenance and other personnel who are required to work temporarily under special environmental conditions are appropriately trained or supervised by a trained individual.
Each manufacturer shall ensure that validated processes are performed by qualified individual(s) [870.75(b)(1)].
As the first step in meeting GMP personnel requirements, manufacturers should select or hire appropriate employees for the tasks to be performed. The initial selection of employees for a specific job is made based on a combination of education, experience, personal habits, interests, etc. For example, education alone is not a good indicator of whether a recent graduate with a scientific degree can design a product.
New employees should be informed that they are working in a regulated industry and should be initially trained to perform their specific jobs and be made aware of any defects or problems that may occur from:
- improper performance of their assigned tasks;
- using incorrect tools or incorrect use of a tool;
- poor hygiene, poor health, or smoking or eating on the job;
- poor work habits or being in the wrong location; and
- other detrimental factors.
Section 820.70(d) requires that personnel in contact with a device or its environment shall be clean, healthy, and suitably attired where lack of cleanliness, good health, or suitable attire could adversely affect the device. Personnel who, by medical examination or supervisory observation, appear to have a condition which could adversely affect the device should be excluded from affected operations until the adverse condition is corrected. Personnel should be instructed to report such conditions to their supervisor. Such actions by management could create problems unless employees are instructed about work practices and requirements when they are hired or initially assigned to the task in an environmentally controlled area.
If eating, drinking, or smoking could have an adverse affect on the devices' fitness for use, then employees should be informed that these activities are to be done only in designated areas.
Employees need to be informed why certain personnel and work practices are required. Basic instructions about invisible microorganisms and particulates will make the company requirements much more meaningful. People respond better when they know why they are allowed or not allowed to do certain activities rather than just being told it is company policy.
Some factors that should be considered when teaching employees about working in a controlled environment include:
- proper attire and dressing anteroom;
- controlled use of, and entry into, controlled areas;
- minimizing body movements;
- locating the body and hands with respect to product and airflow;
- prohibiting eating, drinking, smoking, or gum chewing;
- reducing of coughing, sneezing and other objectionable health related conditions;
- preventing use of lead pencils and certain cosmetics;
- bathing and hand washing requirements;
- preventing or controlling the cutting, tearing or storage of cardboard, paper, debris, etc.;
- eliminating electrostatic charges by selection of clothing, grounding, etc.;
- ensuring cleanliness of raw materials, components and tools; etc.
- using correct furniture and eliminating use of extra furniture;
- regulating the storage of tools, glassware and containers;
- cleaning the room and production equipment per written procedure; and
- cleaning of work surfaces and chairs.
The manufacturer should assure that they have sufficient properly trained personnel, or programs to train technical personnel, to design, validate, develop processes, and produce the new or modified device. Scientific and technical personnel usually need training in:
- regulatory requirements;
- company documentation systems;
- verification and validation techniques;
- consensus standards;
- human factors;
- producibility; and,
- other peripheral design topics.
New design personnel may be introduced to manufacturing methods and producibility issues by being assigned to various manufacturing areas before starting their design activities. The resulting knowledge and experience is as valuable as their technical education -- remember that the ultimate objective of a design and manufacturing operation is to produce a safe and effective device.
In another valuable training technique, manufacturing personnel are assigned to assist development personnel in verifying components, and assembling and verifying subassemblies and prototype devices.
These training techniques:
- improve communications and technology transfer between the various departments;
- help meet the interface requirements in 820.30(b), Design and Development Planning;
- help promote concurrent engineering;
- help research and development personnel understand that the goal is to produce a device -- not just design a device;
- achieve advance training for manufacturing personnel about a forthcoming design;
- reduce production problems by improving the producibility of the device based on the expertise and input of the manufacturing personnel into the design of the device; and
- reduce production problems based on the expertise and input of the device design personnel into the design of processes and production tools, jigs, molds, in-house standards, and test methods.
All of these are important and valuable side benefits to these simple cross-training techniques. Such training should be documented.
The above discussion for technical personnel also applies to technical employees that perform process
validation. After the processes are validated, these technical personnel should use their expertise and experience to develop training methods or help train production employees on how to monitor, control, and operate validated processes. Section 820.75(b) requires a manufacturer to establish and maintain procedures for monitoring and control of process parameters for validated processes to ensure that specified requirements continue to be met. Further, 820.75(b)(1) requires that validated processes be performed by qualified individuals. Obviously, operators that are trained to operate each specific validated process are needed to meet these requirements.
During the development and validation of a process, planning for eventual maintenance can reduce or prevent confusion during emergency repairs. An emergency could lead to improper repairs, such as use of a wrong replacement part. Therefore, the installation qualification should include a review of pertinent training requirements, maintenance procedures, repair parts lists, and calibration of measuring equipment.
Quality Assurance Personnel
QA or product acceptance employees shall meet the GMP personnel requirements for manufacturing employees AND shall be made aware of defects and errors likely to be found in nonconforming components and devices. Usually, it is easier and more effective to teach all of the GMP personnel requirements to all appropriate employees.
Production or QA personnel performing quality assurance or acceptance functions should:
- Maintain requirements for health, cleanliness, and clothing standards which will prevent an adverse effect on product quality.
- Adequately train and/or supervise temporary personnel working in special environmental conditions.
The production department shall have sufficient personnel with the necessary education, background, training, and experience to assure that all production activities are correctly performed. Employees are selected and/or trained for their assigned tasks. These tasks may be janitorial, receiving, pulling parts, production, labeling, acceptance test and inspection, packaging, painting, welding, mixing, specific technical tests, etc.
To meet this requirement, each manufacturer shall establish procedures for identifying training needs and ensure that all personnel are trained to adequately perform their assigned responsibilities.
As part of their training, personnel shall be made aware of device defects which may occur from the improper performance of their specific jobs. Employees should be informed that they may need to be qualified or certified to perform certain tasks such as welding, operating a validated process or working in controlled areas. Likewise, employees need to be told that where necessary, they will be informed about improper performance of their assign tasks with the intent of improving their performance and reducing the likelihood of producing nonconforming product. Where necessary, employees should be certified to perform manufacturing or quality acceptance procedures where a high degree of specialized skill is required. Training shall be documented.
It is a good idea for most of the company personnel to receive basic training in complaint handling techniques. Appropriate employees such as receptionists, salespersons, representatives, secretaries, service personnel, and other employees who talk with users should receive training on their responsibilities in regard to complaint handling requirements in section 820.198. If these employees receive a device complaint, they need to know they have a responsibility to report it to the company person(s) assigned to handle complaints. Likewise, importers and distributors should be made aware of the complaint requirements, and they should be requested to forward complaints to the manufacturer.
Proper job performance by employees as required by the QS regulation dictates that management have a good knowledge of the QS regulation and resulting quality system. Therefore, management should also have appropriate education, training, and experience. As part of their review of the quality system, management should make certain that adequate "how to do" documentation is available to employees. Proper job performance should be supported by correct and complete quality system and device master records. These records should be written in such a manner that the intended employees can understand and properly use them.
Management should show their commitment to training by providing a training room such as a cafeteria and training equipment such as chalkboards, flip charts, video cameras, VCRs, television monitors, slide projectors, overhead projectors, screens, workbooks, etc.
Training for employees may be achieved by many methods such as:
- device regulatory and GMP seminars;
- individual consultations with managers, consultants, FDA personnel, etc.;
- on--the--job training with appropriate instructors;
- cross-training details between R&D and production;
- video tapes and movies;
- slide shows with an appropriate instructor;
- reading GMP/QA manuals and textbooks; and
- formal college QA courses.
To meet GMP requirements, all training should be documented as noted above.
A proactive approach to training is required by 820.25(b) where each manufacturer is required to establish procedures for identifying training needs. Thus, management should diligently look for factors that indicate a need for additional training or retraining. Some of these training indicators are:
- verification failures due to basic problems,
- post-submission technical and labeling information required by ODE for 510(k) submissions,
- validation problems due to routine problems,
- excessive design transfer problems or delays,
- inadequate device master record,
- excessive device defects,
- excessive process equipment or line down-time,
- improper labeling or packaging,
- employee confusion,
- employees ignoring environmental control requirements,
- process or sterilization failures,
- incorrect ordering or shipment information,
- customer complaints, and
- excessive or basic items on a FDA list of observations.
This information is derived from management observations, analysis of device history records, analysis of complaint records, quality assurance audits, etc.
As management performs their daily activities they are aware of the obvious aspects of personnel workmanship and work practices. However, to make sure that all aspects, obvious, hidden, or subtle, of the required quality system exist and are operating correctly, the QS regulation in 820.20(b) requires planned and periodic audits of the quality system. This audit covers:
- noting personnel practices in areas being audited,
- looking for training indicators as listed above, and
- whether the company approach to training programs is proactive.
The audit also includes an inspection and review of training:
- programs and content,
- equipment, and
A report should be made of each quality audit, including any reaudits(s) of deficient matters such as incorrect performance of work, lack of training, failure to update training, the training program not being proactive for all of the personnel that receive complaints, part of the training equipment is not functioning, on-the-job training not adequately supervised or documented, etc. Audit reports that cover training activities and personnel practices should be reviewed by management responsible for these factors in their department. Corrective actions for deficient training and personnel practices shall be taken where necessary (820.22).
Reprinted on the following pages is an example of an employee general training procedure and an example of associated employee training record. These may be used to comply with the training requirements of the QS regulation.
The Buildings and Environment Chapter 6 has a procedure with many details about employee practices in clean rooms.
Employee Training Procedure
This procedure is an example of a general employee training procedure that may be used by manufacturers to assure that all employees receive basic training when they are hired and are qualified for the assigned tasks. The procedure is used with the following training form.
Employee Training Record
This employee training record is a basic form for noting training activities for each employee. A few training requirements are preprinted on the form because new hires should immediately receive this basic training. The training record is used with a general training procedure as described above.
*** SAMPLE PROCEDURE ***
C O M P A N Y L O G O Page 1 of 2
Title Employee Training ____________________________ SOP Number ___________
Prepared by _______________________________________ Date Prepared ___________
Approved by ______________________________________ Date Rev _______________
ECN Notes ______________________________________________________________
Policy Employees shall be trained as needed to perform their assigned tasks and shall be made aware that we produce medical devices in accordance with various regulations and standards.
Scope This procedure applies to all employees.
Hiring The education, background, training, and experience of prospective employees shall be considered with respect to the requirements of the job to be filled.
Responsibility Managers are responsible for assuring that the employees assigned to them are trained or otherwise qualified for the assigned jobs. Before assigning an employee for the first time to a new job, managers shall check their training to verify that the employee has been trained or qualified for the new job.
The QA department is responsible for training facilities, equipment, and supplies.
Training All inexperienced employees shall be trained to perform their assigned jobs. Onthejob training shall be monitored closely by a supervisor. All employees shall be made aware of design and/or production defects, visible and invisible, in the device, labeling, and packaging that may occur from the improper performance of their jobs and defects that they should look for and detect. Our cleanliness (environmental control) and safety procedures shall be explained to all employees.
Quality Assurance Employees QA or product acceptance employees shall receive the training noted above and shall be made aware of errors and defects, visible and invisible, likely to be encountered as part of their quality assurance functions.
Customer Complaints Receptionists, managers, representatives, salespersons, and other employees likely to receive complaints are trained in complaint handling procedures applicable to their functions.
Change Control All employees are to be advised that they are to perform their jobs as instructed or as covered by standard operating procedures (SOP's). They are NOT allowed to change cleaning, compounding, processing, testing, packaging, labeling, or tasks covered by SOP's until the change is approved according to our change control SOP.
Documentation All classroom and onthejob training shall be documented by the supervisor and trainer of the employee on the form as shown on sheet 2. A separate form for each employee with a record of their training shall be filed and shall be updated at the end of each training session.
*** SAMPLE RECORD ***
EMPLOYEE TRAINING RECORD
Page 2 of 2