Conducting EHS (Environmental, Health and Safety) audits may sound like a daunting process. With so many factors playing into your EHS compliance, auditing your operations and activities can be understandably time consuming and challenging and can seem like just one more task to add to your list of responsibilities.
However, the benefits of internal EHS audits can greatly outweigh the costs—from being prepared for unexpected audits and inspections to improving safety and reducing risk. Audits also allow your company to determine what needs to change and what actions are needed to improve overall operational efficiency, making your company stronger.
The Benefits of EHS Audits
Identify Gaps in Meeting Regulations and Corporate Standards
EHS compliance includes meeting requirements from a variety of federal, state and local agencies. EHS compliance also addresses corporate standards and policies. These may include requirements above and beyond those required by regulatory agencies. With so many requirements, it’s easy to overlook a regulation or let a requirement slip through the cracks. Auditing your EHS management systems helps your company identify potential gaps in meeting these regulations and corporate standards.
Waiting to discover non-compliance items until you are potentially fined can be costly. If you realize, in the course of your audit, that there are regulations you have failed to meet, you can start addressing these items sooner rather than later.
Prepare for EHS Audits from Regulatory Agencies
Audits and inspections from regulatory agencies can be either announced or unannounced. However, if you have kept your EHS management system current by routinely conducting internal audits and addressing deficiencies, you will be prepared to meet the expectations of an agency inspector with confidence, enabling your visits from regulatory agencies to run smoothly.
Enhance Company Safety
Regularly auditing your safety practices helps to prevent workplace hazards that are potentially disruptive to your business and harmful to the safety and health of your employees.
From ensuring that inspections and maintenance are conducted as outlined in an air or industrial wastewater permit to examining an OSHA compliance program, making sure you have sufficient safety measures in place is crucial for reducing risk to your workers. Internal audits help you discover these types of safety issues before they become liabilities.
Make Your Facility More Efficient
Running your company efficiently is key to keeping it profitable. Regular audits of your systems help you identify ways your facility can become more efficient with recordkeeping or meeting permit requirements such as training, inspections or preventive maintenance.
Ultimately, discovering issues that may be causing delays or bottlenecks in your operations will improve your business by leading to better results and easier compliance tracking and reporting.
Improve Sustainability Reporting
Environmental audits play a substantial role in sustainability by keeping your company accountable when it comes to your current operations and practices. If you have sustainability reporting requirements, an internal audit is a perfect starting point to see how you are stacking up against those requirements. Additionally, an internal audit helps you identify where developments can be made to improve sustainability and how your facility can achieve them.
Jump Start ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 Certification
If you are looking to get certification in ISO 14001 and/or ISO 45001, an internal audit is an excellent way to identify gaps and assess the areas your company needs to improve in to meet the requirements of these international standards.
These EHS standards also require regular audits to ensure you are effectively implementing and maintaining your policies and procedures and that your system conforms to the standard. Additionally, internal audits will help you check your compliance against your own regulatory obligations.
Get EHS Audit Support
Conducting EHS audits may seem like a big commitment of resources, but audits can identify compliance issues, weaknesses in management systems or potential areas of risk. One way to think of it is as a regular exam or tune-up; like a tune-up for a car, these exams should be done periodically or as needed.
If you are looking to perform an EHS audit at your company and aren’t sure how to get started, contact Tetra Tech’s EHS experts at [email protected] today. Our team of EHS professionals can help you perform the audits you need to keep workplace EHS systems on track.