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The Continued Importance Of EHS (Environmental, Health & Safety) Audit

In order to address the continually changing EHS landscape, auditing practices must necessarily broaden in scope and shift focus to effectively measure all the compliance while at the same time delivering the reasonable returns on the investment.

There are several changes which occur in government enforcement priorities and the businesses have to comply with those newly introduced regulations and dealing with the new and readily available technologies which help in identifying the enforcement targets which add to the already long list of environmental, health and safety (EHS) compliance challenges in the regulated facilities.

Coupled with this is the fact that the evolving business climates have prompted regulated entities to view EHS as stand-alone profit-and-loss centres which are similar to the several other corporate functions.

These specific factors considerably impact the major ways by which EHS compliance is delivered, measured as well as achieved. In order to address the dynamically changing landscape, the auditing practices also have to necessarily broaden in scope and shift focus for effectively measuring the compliance while delivering reasonable and commendable returns on investment (ROI).

What Are The Factors Which Are Prompting Change?

Regulated entities usually perform audits when they require determining the compliance status, address an environmental health and safety management system (EHSMS) requirement or well facilitate the sale or purchase of a business. In these particular instances, the compliance audit is effective at the identification of the regulatory program development requirements and implementation gaps. These all recommend how to gain immediate compliance and minimize liability.

The additional benefits often include penalty avoidance, meeting the customer’s mandate or even a demonstration of the facility, etc.

Compliance audits typically have not been utilized for assessing the organizational structure of an EHS department, determining if the staffs have the desired skills to address the foreseeable future challenges or to identify the process changes in order to increase the revenue and efficiencies.

EHS audits to determine whether the staffs have the desired set of skills required for the specific job in order to address the foreseeable future challenges or to identify the process changes for increasing revenue and efficiencies. EHS conformance assessments, energy conservation audits, business operations reviews, and pollution prevention engineering studies have been the major tools of assessment.

The EHS audit departments are usually asked to do more with less and contribute to the bottom line significantly. This enhances the ability to deliver depending on the actionable information or recommendations received which show positive ROIs. 

As because the EHS audits are usually time-consuming and resource-intensive, there are many regulated entities which are starting to expand the traditional audit scopes in order to deliver EHS audit facilities, compliance data and desired guidance on the organizational structure, cost savings opportunities as well as corporate strategic direction. The success of this specific shift depends on the development and implementation of the strong, adaptive audit and assessment programs.

New Technology Impacting Inspection Decisions

The usage of readily available and fairly inexpensive new technologies enables the regulators, environmental watchdogs, and community members to obtain the quantitative emission and discharge data at the fence line. EPS audit now uses the fence-line ambient air and surface water monitoring as the enforcement targeting tools. The “next-gen” policies of EPS audit specifically stress the importance of the various technological advancements and fence-line monitoring in the field of civil-enforcement.

Conclusion

The best way of understanding all the EHS aspects of a facility or a company or a system is through a very well-strategized and well-designed EHS audit that assesses compliance, business operations, MS conformance, right energy usage, and proper conservation. When these are done effectively, all the stakeholders will come up with a meaningful idea of where their facility is heading towards or succeeding and also identifying the needs of improvement.

Alyssa Moylan is the author of this post

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