When it comes to environmental audits, the process of being audited by an external auditor can be quite daunting, especially when one is ill prepared for the audit. At ENVASS we undertake regular and various environmental audits to verify compliance and provide meaningful input towards the management of the activities undertaken in accordance with the compliance obligations. We have a wealth of knowledge and experience available to ease the process.
Planning and preparation for the audit is crucial for a successful outcome. As a start, the scope of audit should be well documented and presented to the auditors to provide alignment of audit outcomes between all parties. The scope of the audit is presented by ENVASS in the audit protocol document which also includes the scheduling and auditor requirements during the audit.
The ENVASS auditors take time to prepare an Audit Protocol and supporting audit checklist. These are provided for review before the audit commences. Review of the checklist or the document which will be audited to refresh yourself on commitments or requirements. Make a list of documentation and records that should be available during the audit and compare with the list provided by the auditor. Any records or information already at hand, will ensure the audit can be completed timeously.
Identify key operational staff that will have to provide input through specific interviews. The value is often forgotten in the level and detail of information that can be provided by individuals working on specific aspects day in and out. Most often, management measures or corrective action requirements are already known by representatives of the auditee and can be incorporated into the audit report.
Commencing with the audit is simple and should take the form of an opening meeting. The meeting sets the pace of the audit. The opening meeting ensures that all parties are informed of the audit specifics and any on-site arrangements that may be required. It also provides an opportunity for final clarification of the scope and process to be completed. It is important to be honest and open during the audit process as this will ensure that the auditor and auditee can identify areas of concern and improvements required. The audit is also an opportunity for the auditee to make use of the auditor’s experience and knowledge on the management of the activity and measures required from the specific audit documentation.
Upon finalisation of the site assessment, the auditor will compile and submit the audit report for auditee input and comment. This is a crucial phase as it provides a final opportunity for additional submission of documentation, discussion of proposed mitigation measures and the final report. From here, actions stipulated must be implemented, progress tracked and information recorded for the follow-up audit or assessment.
A last consideration is to remain objective in the process and to remember that the intended outcome is continual improvement of the activity and the protection of the environment, employees and the company.