Environmental & OHS Auditing
Whether conducting a Quality (QMS), Environmental (EMS) or Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) audit, the key to gaining the most benefits is through thorough planning.
Many organisations develop a management system ‘audit program’. This program may include a range of components including an audit plan. An effective (and compliant) audit plan is designed to ensure all components of the environmental, work health and safety (WHS) or applicable management system are assessed within a given timeframe – often 12 months.
The audit program may also include a standard or procedure(s) which defines how audits will be undertaken and resourced. Competent Quality, Environment or OHS Auditors are required to ensure the most is gained from management system auditing. These auditors should be trained and competent, not only in the relevant discipline (e.g. environmental or OHS management systems) but also in the process of auditing.
Independence of Process
Audit best practice requires that auditors are independent of the processes they are auditing. For example the organisation’s OHS Manager would not audit the OHS management system he/she designed to determine if it is compliant with AS/NZS4801. They might, however, audit an operation of the organisation to determine if it has implemented the corporate OHS management system.
It is generally accepted that there are 3 types of audits: First, Second and Third Party.
First Party audits are also known as ‘internal audits’ and are therefore usually conducted by people within the organisation. To maintain independence, these internal auditors may come from another part of the organisation, possibly another department or an operation in another state. Many of our clients call upon us to assist their audit program because they see the benefits of a totally independent and professional Environmental Auditor / OHS Auditor. When using a consultant, the other advantage is ‘fresh eyes’ in the organisation and the opportunity to gain insight into a range of solutions being employed throughout industry.
A Second Party audit is undertaken by another organisation. These ‘second party audits’ are often companies auditing their suppliers to make sure they are effectively managing quality, environmental and/or health and safety requirements. This type of audit is very common in the construction industry whereby Principal Contractor audit their sub-contractors’ OHS Management Systems. Once again, often consultants are used to complete this assignment.
Third Party audits are those undertaking by independent bodies for the purposes of certifying an organisation to a national or international standard. Examples include a health & safety audit against the requirements of AS/NZS4801 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems or an Environmental audit against the requirements of ISO14001 Environmental Management Systems.
If you would like some assistance design, developing or implementing your organsation’s Environmental and/or OHS Management System Audit Program, contact us.