An environment, health and safety (EHS) audit is an official inspection performed by an independent party to determine whether a workplace is in compliance with industry regulations. The survey is often used voluntarily by EHS managers to assess regulatory compliance, identify risk and find opportunities for process improvement.
But depending on industry-specific regulations, stakeholder pressure, or enforcement actions that have been imposed, this helpful tool can become a daunting—and sometimes mandatory—task.
If your organization is facing the latter scenario, taking steps to prepare for an upcoming audit can reduce stress, identify issues that can be remedied quickly, and show auditors you’re committed to EHS.
Below we discuss why your EHS audit score matters, and offer tips for preparing for an EHS audit.
Why should I care about my EHS audit score?
There are a number of reasons why an EHS audit score matters. Firstly, governmental agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may require this data. In addition, your score also helps you gauge where you’re at and set measurable goals moving forward. Plus, maintaining a high score presents a positive PR opportunity for your business.
What should I do before an EHS audit?
Here are three things you should focus on before an EHS audit, as well as helpful tips:
1. Identify which regulations apply to your facility
Develop a list of federal, state and local regulatory requirements, and conduct an applicability assessment to determine how each applies to your business. Then, on a given frequency (e.g., annually, biannually, etc.), review your list to ensure all updates or changes to the requirement are being met.
2. Determine what tools you have in place to help you stay compliant
Having a management system in place is a good way to help keep you in compliance, as well as to help you stay organized. Included in a management system could be a tracking system for applicable permits tasks, permit expiration dates, training frequency, and corrective actions, as well as a record-keeping system to maintain critical documents such as health and safety plans, environmental permits, proof of training, SDSs, spills and so on.
3. Learn whether there are additional company standards you need to comply with
Your company might have internal standards that are more stringent than regulatory requirements; these can also be tracked in the same way you would track regulatory requirements.
The Audit Process: How to impress your auditor at every step
1. Compile all relevant EHS documentation and have it ready for auditors
Having data available for auditors prevents downtime, highlights your organizational skills, and ultimately makes the auditors’ job easier. Make sure to provide auditors with only honest data.
2. Provide auditors with the necessary safety equipment they’ll need to inspect your facility
To ensure auditors are kept safe at all times during the audit, be sure to provide them with all necessary PPE. Auditors should be given your safety orientation when they arrive onsite, including what to do in the event of an emergency, if an escort will be needed at all times, and so on.
3. Conduct an internal audit
There’s no better way to prepare for an audit than to do a trial run or two. Start small, by auditing one health and safety program, or the aspects of one environmental permit.
Find out our full EHS audit capabilities on our EHS audit service page, or learn how a variety of companies have used audits to ensure compliance, mitigate risk, and propel EHS programs forward.
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