ISO9001 Quality Systems clause 8.5.3 is titled “Preventive Action”.
What is preventive action?
From time to time I see that the meaning of this is misunderstood, even within certification scheme documentation and by 3rd party assessors. Preventive action is often seen as the action that is taken to prevent a nonconformance from recurring. No, this is corrective action.
ISO9001 states that corrective action is “action to eliminate the cause of nonconformities in order to prevent recurrence”.
ISO9001 states preventive action is “action to eliminate the causes of potential nonconformities in order to prevent their occurrence”.
This is a step ahead of corrective action as you are looking for nonconformities that could occur to stop them from ever occurring. In a Health and Safety system risk assessments are performed to determine potential safety hazards. A way to look at Preventive Action is performing a risk assessment on a process to determine potential nonconformities.