When clients approach us about ISO14001 auditing, whether internal or environmental, we have some important points to raise and discuss, to ensure that the company is making a reasoned and justified decision about how they wish to proceed.
In this article, we will give you some insight into that discussion.
What is environmental auditing?
Put simply, an environmental audit is an evaluation performed to identify environmental compliance, gaps in the implementation of the environmental management systems, and a provision of all corrective measures that can make a business become compliant and even go beyond that.
In 2020, remote auditing has become commonplace, with the traditional face-to-face audit becoming difficult to perform. In a remote audit, all of the above points are covered, but the site visit is excluded from the auditing process, instead, most environmental consultants will look to provide additional value, perhaps relating to COVID.
What does ISO14001 say about environmental auditing?
ISO14001 views environmental auditing as an independent and impartial process that is performed and documented as a way of collecting facts and data that can help and organisation to improve performance and guarantee that they are following the standards of best practice.
Within environmental auditioning for ISO14001, there are two parts to the assessment:
- The internal audit, measuring performance again ISO14001 standards
- A compliance audit, measuring performance against the environmental legislation that the government has put in place.
These audits must be performed by a professional environmental consultant or auditor, which can be someone internally or externally. With remote auditing, this doesn’t change, the qualified person or persons should remain the same. Remote observations may take some getting used to, both for clients and consultants, but what is important is that the technology required to carry out the virtual tour is robust and practical. If a virtual tour for a remote audit is not possible, an environmental consultant will have to find realistic alternatives.
What is a robust audit programme?
- To ensure that an audit programme is truly robust, it must perform these functions:
- Be performed confidently, diligently, and with attention to detail
- Fine comb compliance legislation to find any gaps that may have been overlooked
- Collect data and anecdotal evidence for the performance of the business and the EMS
- Clearly set out suggestions and instructions for improvements that will reach and exceed compliance (if not there already)
- Ensure document security, privacy, and confidentiality at every stage
What about a robust remote audit?
Especially in a time of remote auditing, this final bullet point is paramount. There have to be clear and achievable remote audit objectives, as the focuses will be different but the objectives still have to be communicated. It’s important that the difference between a typical audit and a 2020 remote audit (or future audits) is not simply the lack of a site visit. Environmental auditors have to identify ways to provide new value, additional information, and new benefits, it can help to use remote auditing as a strategic tool rather than an operational one.
Why is auditing such a valuable tool for continued organisational improvement?
From our point of view as an environmental consultancy, the benefits we see for organisations to seek an outsider or external opinion from a qualified consultant include:
Lending a fresh set of eyes who can give a new perspective on the considerations of an audit
Bringing in additional experience to the audit to improve the depth and quality
Greater or more expert knowledge on certain industries or aspects of law, compliance and legislation
Some businesses opt to do an internal audit, selecting a qualified auditor from their environmental or legal team, and whilst there’s nothing wrong with this, we believe that an outside expert can add a lot of quality to the auditing process. Regardless of which route an organisation picks, they must have a discussion about who they will choose, and that conversation may go something like this…
How to select an auditor?
Firstly, are you choosing someone internally or externally?
A. If a qualified, experienced internal auditor is available, it can be a cost-effective decisions
B. An outside expert can bring heaps of experience and knowledge and a fresh perspective
C. There’s nobody internally to perform the audit, but this method is preferred, so an environmental consultant can be hired to train and upskill the existing environmental and legal teams
What sort of personal characteristics does a good auditor have?
Bold and confident
Curious and inquisitive
Progressive and problem-solving
Fortunately, here at Imvelo, we tick all of those character boxes, and we offer training packages to help develop your internal teams into excellent auditing outfits.
Call us today to learn more