Environmental, health and safety audits are a natural part of any organization, but that doesn’t make them any less intimidating. Whether you're new to EHS audits or you’ve done hundreds of them, you want to make sure the time you spend on audit tasks will be effective, profitable, and beneficial to your organization.
The first step to any successful audit is recognizing the value and importance of EHS audits. It’s not something you should take likely, as your findings can be used to strengthen the environmental and safety impact of your company.
Use this brief guide to prepare yourself and your team for EHS audits so you can get the biggest benefit from your efforts.
The Importance of EHS Audits
Audits are critical to your company’s success for multiple reasons. For starters, an audit helps you locate and remedy potential safety issues before they become a problem. Workers can continue working with confidence knowing their environment is secure and up to standards.
Also, a safety audit helps promote a Safety-First culture that lets people know you’re committed to their well-being.
In addition, safety audits will help those who participate in conducting them to better recognize safety issues and hazards. By understanding the hazards and scenarios that could create safety issues, you’re better able to continually provide a safe work environment.
Oftentimes, the auditing process can become so routine and mundane that your team members may start to find it pointless. They might forget the reasons they continue to do audits, even if they aren’t likely to find anything amiss. Or, they might feel like audits are only necessary to appease regulatory agencies. If your team has developed a negative or passive attitude to EHS audits, you will never reap the full benefits of your audit activities.
Overcoming Complacency During EHS Audits
One of the biggest reasons why EHS audits fail to deliver value is the complacency EHS managers and team members experience when performing the audit.
As an EHS manager, it’s up to you to stress the value EHS audits can bring to the company, and to each individual conducting the audit. Remind them that audits are conducted not just because some agency is pressing your hand, but because they can truly make a difference in promoting a safe work environment.
If possible, share with them examples of audits gone bad, or the fallout experienced by other companies because of a lack of attention to detail. Having real-life examples can help them understand why what they’re doing is important.
For example, this report from IRMI indicates that one of the most overlooked items on construction site audit is the possibility of objects falling over the fenced area and damaging a person or property outside of the work zone. Yet this type of accident could cost three to four times more than a worker’s comp incident.
One thing that can help you prepare is to perform research on safety audit best practices, including reviewing previous audits and see how they compare. If you find that every audit looks almost the same with nothing new to report time after time, you’re probably not looking hard enough.
How to Streamline Your Audits Without Cutting Corners
Safety audits can be a time- and resource-consuming process for any industry, and for good reason. Simply going through the motions won’t deliver great results, and will ultimately defeat the purpose of performing an audit.
Companies have found success in streamlining their safety audits without sacrificing the quality of their findings by using EHS software to facilitate their activities.
Using the right software platform, auditors can create the forms or checklists they need one time, log information on the go, and reuse the forms and checklists for future audits. All the information is housed in a single database, so there’s no filing, printing, or risk of losing data.
It also gives you a chance to view your audit results over time, so you can compare reports and gain deeper insights into your safety program and auditing process.
To see what EHS software could look like for your company’s auditing process, take a look at our EHS software and see how you can streamline the auditing process without skipping steps.
Further reading: Achieving EHS Compliance with Audits and Inspections