All departments shall be audited against all elements of the Standard at least once a year. Additional audits may be scheduled considering the environmental significance of activities and the results of previous audits

You should prepare an audit plan for each audit and communicate it to the auditees at least three weeks before the audit.

Internal EMS audit process

EMS audits will be conducted primarily through interviews, observing physical conditions and checking documents and records.

The audit team will conduct short opening and closing meetings with the departmental head of the area that is being audited to explain the scope and methodology of the audit.

Auditors will document nonconformities and hand them over to the management of the area under audit. A copy of the nonconformity report is given to the Manager in order to record and follow up.

Responsibility for determining root cause(s) and taking corrective actions will reside with the functional area managers where findings occurred. Management representatives should be requested to coordinate where required.

The lead auditor (unless otherwise specified by the Manager ) should follow up to ensure that the corrective actions are completed by the agreed-upon dates. The EMS audit is closed once establishing that the corrective actions are fully implemented and effective.

The audit process is commonly structured into three phases:

Select auditor, review preliminary information and prepare audit plan and checklist
On-site audit
Opening meeting, conduct the audit at site, closing meeting
Prepare audit report and implement corrective and preventive action

Preparing for the Audit

When the registered auditor has been appointed by the organization, the Lead Auditor shall then proceed with preparations for conducting the site audit.

This entails evaluating preliminary information about the organization in order to develop the audit scope and plan which will be agreed with the organization.

In order to facilitate this process, the organization shall nominate a representative who will have the authority to release to the auditor the types of information that will be requested for the audit preparation.

Audit Scope and Preliminary Review

Before an audit is carried out, the scope of the audit has to be determined by the Lead Auditor in accordance with the type of audit requested . Determining the scope includes defining the extent and boundaries of the audit such as physical location, processes and organizational activities.

A general guideline for the scoping exercise is that all processes and activities in the organization, which will contribute to the effective compliance to the Environmental regulations shall be included.

The Lead Auditor shall request for preliminary information from the organization which allows the auditor to determine the scope of the audit. The information provided will influence the number of man-days required for the site audit and how the time will be utilized during the site audit.

The types of preliminary information that the auditor should request for (where applicable) are the

Organization's site layout showing key activities,
Description of key activities (process flow)
An outline of environmental monitoring programs
EIA conditions of approval
Conditions of licenses / Permits
Written approvals
Environmental Management Plans
Erosion Control and Sedimentation Plans
Any other approvals related to the Environmental Regulations
Other relevant documents

Use pre-audit checklist to get information, minimize new discoveries at site

The auditor may also use the pre-audit checklist , a Pre-Audit Checklist is used to facilitate the process of obtaining the relevant documents from the organization.

The organization must submit the preliminary information to the auditor within 14 calendar days of the date the request is received.

If the organization seeks exclusion of areas to be audited from the audit scope, the Lead Auditor shall
document this in the environmental audit report.

It is advisable for the organisation to make all relevant information available to the Auditor during the scoping exercise to minimize complications during the site audit.

For example, if it is discovered that there are additional activities occurring at the site which are/could be under the jurisdiction of the environmental regulations the auditor may enlarge the audit scope to include the new discovery.

If the organization is unwilling to include the discoveries in the scope of the audit, the auditor shall carry on with the agreed scope . The new discovery and the reasons for the unwillingness of the organization to enlarge the audit scope shall be documented in the environmental audit report.

Audit Plan

Based on the information obtained in the preliminary review, a written audit plan shall be prepared and submitted by the Auditor to the organization prior to the site audit.

The audit plan serves as the blueprint for the conduct of the environmental audit. The plan will include audit objectives, the scope and criteria of the audit and the functional units to be audited.

It requires that the site audit activities of each of the audit assistants be mapped out in a timetable.

This timetable facilitates the Auditor‟s responsibility for tracking and managing the audit to achieve the audit objective.

The audit plan shall cover:

Audit date(s) and timetable of audit activities
Audit objective and scope
Members of the audit team
Audit criteria

Site Audit Checklist

An auditor should use a customized audit protocol that is relevant to the particular industry and location that is being audited. These checklists function as memory aids during the audit to ensure that all relevant regulatory issues are duly audited and would be prepared prior to the site visit.

Customize the site audit checklist to suit the industry or site.

The regulatory checklists in Appendix 5 should be tailored to the particular industry that is being audited as these regulations cover many different types of industrial emissions and are not relevant to all types of industry.
Therefore, it is very important that the auditor should either add or delete the specific regulatory requirement from the checklist relevant to the site.

For example, a plastic component manufacturing facility that does not emit sulphuric acid gases should not include the emission limits specified for sulphuric acid in the environmental regulations in their audit protocol.

Similarly, the construction site audit checklist should also be customized to the type of construction site encountered.

The construction sites could be as varied as a hillslope development, coastal reclamation works or infrastructure works that cut through residential areas.

Therefore, it is only sensible that the checklist items shall include those issues that will be pertinent to the site

Expand checklist to include other regulations as necessary

Finally, the auditor should also formulate the checklist for an appropriate level of detail to which he/she is comfortable with.

A more experienced and knowledgeable auditor may only need the basic regulatory checklist without having to document detailed questions to assess the compliance.

Less experienced auditors may need to use a detailed checklist that lists everything that they need to know and do.

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