Summertime Auditing

Sorry it has been so long, but it’s hard to write and enjoy the summer at the same time.  Actually, it is hard to audit in the summer time, period.

Why?  Well, the sun is shining, the kids are out of school and you are wishing, why can’t I also be off of work for 2 months along with them.  Not all of us are that lucky.  But some people are, which makes our jobs as auditors that much more difficult.  A lot of things happen during the summer, which may seem to be obstacles for an auditor, but truly, they are an opportunity to identify improvement for a management system.

You may get a lot of push back for scheduling an audit during the summer months, but here are some opportunities you can take from it:

1. “Too many people are on vacation.”  OK, but the doors are still open, and product is getting out the door, so someone must be working.  If it is a critical task, then a designate must have been assigned and trained.  Now is the opportunity to test that transition.  Because if a certain task is not continuing and it should, this an opportunity to improve.

2. “A student/temp is doing that job.”  Great, have they been given permission to send out a lower quality product, or to conduct that task in a less harmful way, or not to recycle?  No?  So they can be observed and interviewed.  If they are new, as an auditor, take that into consideration, be considerate when conducting the interview.  But this new person should be trained to do the task correctly.  Student workers tend not to observe safety rules as closely as we would all like them to.

3. “There is a lot of shut down work going on.”  Non-routine work, such as equipment overhauls and replacement during parts of the summer, is a typical activity that is not usually audited.  But these are activities that have to be address in both Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, through aspect and hazard identification.  Have all the aspects and hazards of these non-routine activities been identified and controlled?  Are all the chemicals identified and approved?  Are hot work permits being issued, confined spaces controlled and equipment properly locked out?  Are new wastes being handled correctly and spills controlled?  Are contractors, which there are usually a lot of during these types of activities, properly controlled and trained?

There are lots of opportunities to test a management system in the summer, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.  Just remember to put on sun screen for the outside part of the tour.