Are you Audit-Ready?

How would you react if you found out your company is having an Environmental, Health and Safety (EH&S) audit this year? Would you think, “Cool, but that’s the EH&S Manager’s responsibility, not mine.” Or maybe, “That’s great, I’m eager to see how we do.” How about, “Why bother, no one has the time to fix anything, so nothing will change.”

Regardless of your reaction, the audit is happening. Why not be prepared?

Being continuously audit-ready is a proactive and strategic approach by organizations and leaders who intend to maintain a state of preparedness for audits and drive continuous EH&S improvement. It fosters a culture of compliance, safety, and efficiency. Rather than scrambling to prepare just before an audit, continuous audit readiness ensures ongoing adherence to EH&S regulatory requirements, internal management systems, and best practices. Let’s dive into some benefits and strategies with the audit-ready approach.

Benefits of Audit-Ready

  • Leadership Buy-In: When leaders (executives, managers, supervisors, foremen) prioritize, communicate, and promote audit readiness, it sets the tone for the entire organization. Employees understand the importance of adhering to regulations and safety protocols and supporting the organization to become better.
  • Consistent Practices: A culture of compliance (and doing the right thing) becomes ingrained when employees consistently hear about and are actively involved in EH&S initiatives, programs, and practices, even after the audit.
  • Prevent Violations: Regular monitoring and corrective actions help prevent violations, reducing the risk of penalties.
  • Improved Safety: A focus on safety becomes embedded in daily operations, minimizing accidents and incidents.
  • Efficiency: Addressing issues promptly avoids last-minute rush and saves time during audits.
  • Positive Reputation: Demonstrating commitment to compliance enhances the organization’s reputation.

Strategies for Being Audit-Readysafety management

  • Training and Awareness: Regularly train employees on EH&S policies, procedures, and best practices. Foster a safety-conscious mindset. Don’t forget to train key personnel on roles and responsibilities for when a regulatory agency comes knocking.
  • Document Control: Maintain accurate records of safety protocols, permits, incident reports, training sessions, and inspections.
  • Risk Assessments: Conduct routine risk assessments to identify hazards and implement controls. There are various levels of risk, so be sure to focus on high-hazard areas and tasks.
  • Internal Audits: Regularly audit your own processes to identify gaps and address them promptly. This enhances preparedness and efficiency for unexpected regulatory inspections and external audits.
  • External Audits: Regularly schedule third-party audits to get an unbiased evaluation with fresh eyes, free from familiarity with daily routines. Their expertise and objectivity ensure accurate results, pinpointing areas for improvement without internal biases.
  • Corrective Actions: Promptly address non-compliance issues. Implement corrective actions and track progress.
  • Emergency Preparedness: Ensure emergency plans, evacuation routes, and communication systems are up-to-date, and roles and responsibilities are defined and understood.
  • Management Commitment: Leadership should actively support EH&S initiatives and allocate necessary resources.
  • Continuous Improvement: Use audit findings as opportunities for improvement rather than mere compliance checks.

Being Audit-Ready is Not Just Checking the Box

A focus on audits can often lead organizations away from hazard identification and risk management and focus more on compliance checks. While your focus may be to check whether drums and secondary bottles are appropriately labeled, extinguishers are not missing monthly inspections, and grinder tool rests are properly positioned, you might walk right past the contractor who has an employee in a confined space with no means of communication, or a new maintenance employee working on a machine that does not know how to properly lock it out, or even a spill that has made its way to a drain.

Regular audit training and periodic, focused audits can enhance compliance knowledge across the organization, detect more hazards and potential noncompliance findings, and positively influence the EH&S culture. Involving various personnel in the audit or bringing in a third-party auditor can help avoid the “check the box” mentality.

Remember, frequency, consistency, and focus are keys to avoiding complacency. By integrating EH&S practices into daily routines, organizations can maintain a state of readiness and uphold EH&S standards effectively.

How can EHS Support help?

If you are wanting to understand your EH&S compliance status or just need a fresh set of eyes, reach out to Monica Meyer or Amy Bauer today and explore how the EH&S Compliance Team can help you be audit-ready.



Related Posts