environmental audits

Environmental audits can be very intimidating experiences for any EHS manager. You may constantly wonder if you missed something, or if a worker did something somewhere that they didn’t report and you never even knew about.

“Stressful” is an often an understatement when it comes to environmental audits. So, how can we flip this situation around and start making the most of these events to improve our facility? Now that we’re well into 2013, it’s time to put the Auld Lang Syne spirit to work and start some new relationships off on the right foot, specifically the way you approach your environmental regulators and auditors.

ERA Environmental Management Solutions’ team of environmental experts was tasked with putting their heads together to offer up the best advice for EHS professionals seeking to make the New Year as stress-free and profitable as possible. They all agreed that the best route was to flip your mode of thinking and finally make friends with your auditors.

What’s Your Auditor Attitude?

When we talk to EHS professionals, they often view their local compliance auditors not as an ally, but as an obstacle to their success. In some cases, even a nuisance.

There’s a perception that auditors sweep into facilities looking for any tiny slip-up to punish managers for with hefty fines. Rather than considering auditors as professionals with the responsibility of ensuring environmental and safety standards are met, some EHS professionals subconsciously demonize their auditors and make routine audits into stressful affairs.

In reality, those EHS professionals who dislike their auditors are the ones with the biggest headaches before and during audits, and often feel the most miserable as a result. Yes, inspections and audits can be stressful, especially after new regulations are implemented or when there’s regulatory uncertainty in your sector, but expecting the worst of your auditors puts up barriers that are detrimental to your own success.

If you don’t trust your regulators to be acting in everyone’s best interest, you’re less likely to be completely transparent and that is something a good regulator is trained to see as a red flag. If you don’t respect your auditors, you’re less likely to worry about keeping clear audit trails in your recordkeeping, which only hurts your business in the end. And even if you just tolerate your auditors’ presence, it’s unlikely they’ll come to see you as a manager truly dedicated to employee safety and well-being.

In short, your attitude towards your local auditors and regulatory officers reflects how you prioritize your EHS data management and determines how your auditors will see you.

Your Guide to Stress-Free Environmental Audits in 2013
EHS Today