The Future of OH&S Auditing

| September 11, 2007

Last week, I attended a meeting of The Auditing Roundtable in Philadelphia.  The keynote speaker was Glen Hiemstra – a Futurist.  In his presentation he focused on the 9 future trends and forces that he believes will impact environmental, health and safety audit programs. 

Five of these driving forces are particularly important to occupational health and safety management systems:

  1. Moving upstream from correction to prevention.  As more legislation and regulations require self-governance (think Sarbines Oxley), more organizations are implementing internal audit programs.  A key element of these audit programs is using audit findings to identify the need for corrective and preventive actions.
  2. Emphasis on the business case for good EHS practices.  Rather than viewing EHS issues as simply problems to avoid, organizations have begun to realize that there can be significant “bottom line” impacts as well.
  3. Nanotechnology Safety.  More and more products and processes are utilizing nanotechnology.  Unfortunately, we don’t know the long-term health effects that may be associated with exposure to these materials.
  4. Global economic dynamics related to EHS.  As industries move to developing countries, particularly India and China, there will be growing pressures to address environmental, health and safety concerns in a globally consistent manner.
  5. Ethics.  As Glen Hiemstra summarizes the issue in his blog: “Environmental, health and safety issues are often the result of lack of knowledge of long term impacts, and often the result of poor decisions or processes, mistakes in other words.  But, very often deliberate decisions are made to ignore rules, bury adverse research, and seek short term financial gain over long term environmental responsibility.  The auditing process is the check and balance on this unfortunate human frailty.”

© ENLAR® Compliance Services, Inc. (2007)

Category: Global OH&S Issues, OHSMS Auditing

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