External Experts Improve Assurance and Audit Results, Enhance Compliance and Performance
Corporate assurance, assessment and audit programs designed and administered by the Inspector General and Auditor General Offices lacked organic EHS subject matter expertise and inadequately identified technical compliance and performance issues or completely overlooked fundamental health and safety program elements. Failures in identifying areas of health and safety program non-compliance exposed organizations to unknown and unmitigated compliance, reputation, financial, and operational risk.
In collaboration with assurance, assessment and audit program senior leadership, policies and procedures were developed to identify organizational structures, team compositions and protocols for including EHS subject matter experts in corporate oversight programs as well as identifying the criteria for conducting stand along EHS program audits. We identified a cadre of EHS subject matter experts from the organization and selected based on experience, geography, familiarity with the specific industry and ability to act in a sufficiently objective manner and removed from the business unit being assessed or audited.
The inclusion of objective external EHS subject matter experts significantly improved the robustness of assurance, assessment and audit findings and results, which included identified corrective actions designed to enhance programmatic compliance and performance. Initial business unit assessments and audits frequently identified a lack of a local program or process for conducting regular and recurring inspections and validating EHS program compliance, thereby increasing the quantity and severity of finding and areas of non-compliance. After working to develop corrective actions that included an internal review process, self-monitoring and correction of hazards improved and EHS program risks decreased or were completely eliminated.