Environmental health and safety auditors need more than just an understanding of the laws they are enforcing.
Environmental health and Safety (EH&S) auditors are an important part of the environmental law enforcement process. However, to effectively protect people and our natural resources, auditors must possess skills beyond simply being knowledgeable about the laws they are enforcing.
Perhaps the most important skills to have are interpersonal skills. This is true in just about every profession. For EH&S auditors, this includes, but is not limited to communication skills (verbal and written) for interviewing facility operators and managers, the ability to work in a team environment (audits are not done alone!), and interviewing skills for getting as much valuable information as you can from people at the site.
Getting certified by the Board of Environmental, Health, and Safety Auditor Certifications (BEAC) is not required. However, it is a good idea to become certified because continuing education keeps an auditor up-to-date on changes in regulations and auditing procedures. It also brings credibility to you and your audit, gives you the knowledge needed to perform audits correctly and fix compliance issues, and shows commitment to your trade!
EH&S auditors must also have a good understanding of the facility they are auditing and its processes, as well as the regulations that apply. Be sure to study up on the company, the site and how it operates, and any environmental health and safety laws that apply.
EH&S auditors should also be impartial (or have an outside consultant who is) to the audit. This allows for improvements to the auditor and his/her processes.
In my next post, I’ll cover what EH&S auditors must consider before and during the actual audit. Preparation and execution are key!