To Umhlaba, Auditing is not just a legal requirement or a tick-box exercise. We see auditing as a management tool which is used to set / guide / evaluate specific, measurable goals and objectives. We recognise that in order to serve as an effective tool, the Audits must consider the components of our client’s Environmental Management System (EMS) and / or the conditions of Environmental Authorisations (EA). Audits must consider our client’s • environmentally related policies, • the procedures and practices that our clients have developed in order to reduce environmental impacts and • most importantly the objectives set by our clients through their EMS or EA (the latter is particularly important considering that objective outcomes are a focus area of NEMA).
We do not see Auditing as a one day visit to the site followed by a lengthy report identifying all the problems you are already aware of. To us Auditing is a collaborative effort, where we help our clients to be audit ready (not audit prepared) by building the puzzle (their EMS) with them, solving problems together through encouragement and the sharing of experiences, and not letting problems run away from them. We advise that our clients should not dread / fear an audit as it is a useful tool for improving environmental management.
For an Audit to be successful it must consider the following and these are the criteria that we use when structuring an audit for our clients. An audit must;
- be systematic so that audits are repeatable (to allow different auditors to follow the same procedure and obtain comparable results from one audit to the next),
- be simple,
- be structured,
- be repeated to compare findings over a period of time (the frequency will depend on what is being audited),
- follow legal requirements,
- have evaluation criteria that considers the EMS and/or EA being evaluated (criteria must consider cause-and-effect relationships and raise personnel awareness), and
- rank the findings to guide the prioritising of corrective measures.
When we audit, we strive to assist our clients through acknowledging improvements and identifying areas where additional improvements can be made. We also provide guidance as to what to do with the outcomes of the Audit in order to benefit from the process (to build the puzzle). This may include recommending changes to Procedures, or linking audit findings to training requirements. Lastly we encourage that minor findings are not ignored and encourage that these are addressed before they become major findings.
If our approach to Auditing interests to you, we would like to be given the opportunity to discuss our approach in more detail so that we can demonstrate to you how we can assist.