For both environmental and OHS management systems, one of the key commitments in the policy is the commitment to comply with legal requirements.
So how do you test that the auditee has actually met this commitment?
First of all what does this commitment actually mean? It doesn’t mean that they are committed to meeting all of the applicable legal requirements all of the time, to be perfect and never at fault. It does mean, that they are striving for that ideal. We know that no one can be 100% in compliance 100% of the time. Once you recognize that, then you are on the road to achieving it. So we need to see a commitment to finding and addressing compliance issues immediately.
Second, just because they say they are committed doesn’t mean that they are. In order to demonstrate commitment, your actions have to reflect this commitment. And in the standards, there are elements that are there to do just that. First the element of identifying your organizations Legal and Other Requirements. You need to know what is applicable to your organization and more specifically your site. A number of companies have those registries that list all of their legal requirements. Great, that’s a start, but then how does it apply to your organization’s activities. So the second element to help demonstrate your commitment is the Evaluation of Compliance. They need to regularly check their performance against those applicable legal requirements. In essence, a compliance audit, where the criteria is legislation. And if there are any issues, then they need to be addressed immediately, preferably through a corrective action process.
So this is just one of the areas that you can concretely audit in order to determine if the policy has been implemented. Because the policy is not just a piece of paper with words on, it is a sign post leading everyone to where the organization wants to go. And the commitment to legal compliance is one of the key foundations (in addition to identifying aspects/hazards) to the management system.