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Just in time for Halloween, we want to discuss one of the most frightening words in the English language: Audit. But this is not a horror story. In fact, we hope to dispel any fears you have toward audits. In this two-part series, we will demystify environmental audits, talk about the different kinds and describe how they can be extremely helpful to your business.

This entry will summarize the types of audits you may encounter and the benefits of conducting audits.

There are several types of audits in the environmental realm. The first is a compliance audit. Compliance audits can take many forms – it just depends upon how in-depth you want to dig and who is doing the digging. Compliance audits can be performed by anyone: internal staff, parent organizations, suppliers, customers, and least favorite of all, regulators. The scope of the audit can also vary widely from tabletop reviews of records to in-depth inspections of facility operations and everything in between. Regardless of the folks involved and the scope of the inspection, the goal is the same – evaluate the facility for compliance with the applicable environmental regulations.

Another kind of audit that we are hearing more and more about is an ISO audit. ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization. When it comes to industrial and manufacturing facilities, the most common standards we hear about are ISO 14001 for Environmental Management Systems, ISO 45001 for Occupational Health and Safety, and ISO 9001 for Quality Management.

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Many international organizations are now certified in accordance with one or more ISO Standards, and a greater number of smaller entities are finding the benefits of ISO Certification to be valuable. We’ll get more into ISO Certifications and how to obtain certification in Part 2 of this series.

In 20 years of helping clients prepare for audits, performing audits and helping clients respond to audits, the best advice I can give is to be prepared, know what is required of your facility and be organized. You never get a second chance to make a first impression and a good first impression can work wonders. 

So, now you can see the many benefits that audits can have.

Benefit number one: If you think about how an auditor will look at your environmental program as you are developing it, you will automatically be more prepared and organized, which results in a better, more compliant program.

Benefit number two: Performing internal and third-party audits regularly helps you maintain compliance (with regulations) and/or conformance (with ISO Standards) before a third party arrives.

And finally, benefit number three: Regular audits of your environmental practice and/or audits of your EMS help your facility to do the right thing, and that can look great to customers, investors and employees.

Our president Maggie Strom and the Tioga team regularly conduct compliance audits, both focused and broad, to help clients fulfill corporate requirements.

Just in case you were wondering, Tioga has helped set up ISO Environmental Management Systems and Health and Safety Management Systems. We have performed third-party audits for facilities, and our president Maggie Strom has completed ISO Lead Auditor Training.

Stay tuned for our next entry on environmental audits. You’ll learn the requirements of earning an ISO Certification and the benefits of having an internal auditor on your team.