An environmental health and safety (EHS) regulatory compliance audit is an evaluation that is carried out by an independent party to determine if an organization is complying with industry regulations. The audit is often used by EHS managers to evaluate regulatory compliance, assess risk, and find opportunities for improving operations.
Depending on the applicable regulations, pressure from stakeholders, or mandatory enforcement actions, these helpful evaluations can be intimidating. If your facility is facing a mandatory audit, making sure to be prepared can identify issues that can be fixed quickly, and show auditors your commitment to EHS. This article will cover what an EHS audit means to your business and provide tips on preparing for an EHS audit.
Why Do EHS Audits Matter?
A primary reason for conducting EHS audits is for governmental agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to collect this data. Your audit score also helps you determine your organization’s standing and sets measurable goals for the future. Plus, keeping a high score shows that your facility is taking the initiative to prioritize environmental health and safety.
What to Do Before an EHS Audit?
- Find out What Tools Can Help You Stay Compliant
Having an EHS management system for your facility is a good way to maintain your compliance. Included components may be a hazardous waste tracking system, permit expiration dates, training schedule, and a record-keeping system to store critical documents including environmental permits, training certifications, SDSs, etc.
- Determine What Regulations Apply to Your Facility
Locate the federal, state and local regulatory requirements and determine how each applies to your facility. Then, regularly (ex., annually, biannually, etc.) conduct a self-audit to ensure all updates or changes to the requirement are met.
- Compile Necessary Documentation
Providing adequate documentation shows compliance with OSHA and EPA regulations and requirements. Once your organization has implemented a safety and health plan, the plans’ effectiveness must be evaluated. A good record-keeping system will allow you to keep track of any proficiencies or areas which should be improved. Keeping records of the corrective measures taken to correct your deficiencies will show OSHA and EPA auditors how your organization is making an effort to comply with required regulations.
- Make Sure You Are Aware of:
- Every source of pollution at the facility
- Chemicals and raw materials used at the facility
- Pollution control devices and/or waste minimization operations at the facility and their installation/implementation dates
- Primary operation of the previous owner/occupants at the facility
- Past incidents of spills and other accidents at the facility