EH&S Management systems standards are developed to proactively address and continually improve how to protect the environment and how to establish and maintain a safe and healthy workplace. The environmental management system, ISO 14001, and occupational health and safety management system, OHSAS 18001 – soon to be converted to the new ISO 45001, help to manage risks and take advantage of opportunities. Just as an annual EH&S audit can be related to an annual physical, internal systems audits can be related to the ongoing monitoring of your overall health. Working with a general practitioner to consistently improve a functional area of one’s health mandates a certain amount of effort. However, if this area is of highest risk to us, we will devote that time.
Commitment to internal auditing has huge potential for risk reduction and continual improvement, just as commitment to ongoing monitoring of your health. Part of this commitment is ensuring that your EH&S management system is functioning as intended to promote environmental protection and a safe and healthy workplace. Having an effective management system achieves this.
Management systems are most successful when all those affected in some capacity by the system embrace the procedures and best practices shared with them from the system – making the role of an internal auditor for management systems essential. They can act as another set of eyes to review operations and to act as the catalyst to best practices and improvement.
The internal auditor has the platform to point out an internal audit finding, such as emergency procedures not being executed as stated in documentation. They also have the responsibility to identify areas where there are opportunities for improvement, such as posting significant aspects in areas affected by those aspects to increase awareness.
In order to show continued improvement for an organization’s management system or an individual’s health, concrete evidence of steps taken to do so are very important. In a management system, objective evidence that procedures are being followed and are effective is a must-have. Internal audit findings are meant to take an organization’s EMS to the next level of best practices and demonstrate improvement of the system.
Having a management system, or working with a healthcare provider, won’t be of value if we simply carry on with business as usual. We cannot expect there to be improvements each time we have an annual appointment or audit without acting to correct or address issues identified. The value comes from embracing the guidance from the internal auditor or healthcare provider to see the most concrete improvements.
Embracing this guidance means continually improving the management system itself, and for this scenario, improving the preparation, execution, and documentation of internal audits. Managing audit documentation, corrective actions, and audit schedules in discrete, siloed, files leaves room for error and inconsistencies. Tools are now available to transform the way in which this is accomplished. A tool like the EHS-DashboardTM has the capability to schedule audits, log findings, communicate internally to address corrective actions, and store documentation, while simultaneously linking each piece together.
If you have questions about internal audits for management systems or how to implement tools to enhance your existing systems, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our experts. Linda Swift can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 978-621-6433 and Cristina Mendoza can be reached at email@example.com or 774-249-2418.