The Basics of EH&S Self-Auditing

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The challenge of complying with all of the applicable environmental and occupational safety regulations is formidable for any organization. Internal auditing, or self-auditing, is increasingly being used to address this challenge. This article looks at the range of auditing practices that exist to help organizations decide if self-auditing makes sense for them and what form it should take.


We live in an increasingly complex world. This complexity is compounded by an ever-changing series of governmental regulations. The challenge of complying with all of the applicable environmental and occupational safety regulations is formidable for any organization. Yet this challenge cannot go unmet for very long without running the risk of potentially serious consequences for those who are responsible for maintaining the organization’s compliance.

Internal auditing, or self-auditing, is a tool that is increasingly being used to address this challenge. When using the term “self-audit,” I refer to environment, health, and safety (EH&S) compliance audits that are performed by an organization’s own personnel, or by an outside third-party retained on its behalf. Self-auditing is consistent with the basic management tenet that periodic checks are needed.

These checks confirm that the systems and practices that management has mandated are in place and are being fully and correctly implemented. Even in organizations where “management by exception” is practiced and formal management follow-up is not the rule, self-auditing for EH&S compliance is increasingly being recognized as having value. This is due to potentially large fines levied by regulatory agencies, the risk of lawsuits associated with claims of worker injury or environmental damage, and the mandates for financial transparency now required for publicly traded companies under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

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