Environmental audits are typically undertaken by a company/organization to provide a measure of any or all of the following: their level of compliance with federal, provincial and municipal legislation and guidelines; internal policies and procedures; and/or environmental management systems.
Environmental audits are well documented assessments of a companyâ€™s level of compliance and or the effectiveness of their management systems based on a sample of the existing programs and practices in place at the facility. A third party (outside of the company) is often involved in the environmental auditing program to insure the integrity of the process. An environmental audit guide (or â€˜protocolâ€™) is commonly used by the auditors during the audit to ensure that audits are consistent.
The basic steps involved in the environmental auditing process is to design the environmental program based on the needs of the organization; obtain general background pre-audit information for the auditors to review prior to the audit; conduct the on-site audit which consists of an initial site tour and subsequent detailed inspections; a review of documentation; and personnel interviews. The final step conducted by the audit team is to prepare a report of the audit teamâ€™s findings.
The development of an audit program involves defining the audit program scope (e.g., which facilities/departments will be audited and when; which parameters will be included in the audit program; etc.) ISO14000
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has been developing voluntary technical standards for business, industry and technology since 1947. The ISO 9000 Management System Standards were introduced in 1987, followed by the ISO 14000 â€˜familyâ€™ of standards and guidelines nearly ten years later.
ISO14000 standards provide a model to follow in setting up and operating an environmental management system (i.e., all of a companyâ€™s activities related to the monitoring and minimization of harmful effects to the environment which may result from its operations).
Environmental Management System audits are required under ISO 14001 to demonstrate that an environmental management system is operating as outlined within the ISO 14001 standard.
The Organizations which issue ISO 14000 Certificates are known as â€œregistrarsâ€�. Registrars assess companiesâ€™ environmental management systems against the requirements of ISO 14001, and issue an ISO 14001 certificate if the Organization is in conformance.