A view from the inside
by Suzanne Orme
Successful audits are a win-win for the community and for businesses wanting to prove to themselves and others that they do what they say they do . By examining a business from the inside out an auditor confirms that the company is meeting the expectations of all interested parties.
Let’s think of the analogy of clothing.
When garments are viewed from the outside in there may be a glossy brand image, attractive packaging or convenience features. Only when the clothes are turned inside out do the seams, patterns and structure become visible and understood.
What you see is the other side of the same thing. The garment hasn’t been deconstructed – just viewed in a different light, in all its reality, worts and all. The strengths and positives are seen and admired – the reinforced seams and new, unfaded materials and the creative effort applied to its design. But a closer look reveals some weaknesses – the fraying hems, broken stitching, worn fabric and repaired holes.
Just like a jumper that looks OK when its being worn, the deterioration of a company’s standards relating to environmental protection are not immediately apparent to key stakeholders – senior management, customers, the community, financial institutions and government regulators. Not until something unfortunate happens.
Like a loose button or pulled thread there’s been a deterioration – a few people left untrained, a couple of procedures not followed, a key piece of pollution control equipment not maintained. And so forth.
The loose thread may be spotted and repaired in time but when left unattended, things begin to unravel. In time the loose button will fall off – there’s a major pollution incident or regulatory breach along with the high price of clean up, medical costs, fines, legal fees and loss of company reputation. Ouch!
All elements of an Environmental Management System – like the level of training and competence and the effectiveness of operational controls – need to be rigorously checked by a program of regular internal and external audits.
The close scrutiny of a good auditor will warn the business owner(s) of weaknesses and threats so that corrective action can be taken before it is too late.
Enviroease consultants have years of experience in both audits and assessments.
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This article was updated to reflect the revised ISO19011:2018 Guideline for Auditing Management Systems.