Health, Safety & Environmental (HSE) Management In Engineering Practice

COMPONENTS OF HSE MANAGEMENT
Health, Safety and Environmental management should be part of the engineering profession in a country for the purpose of
o duty of care
o economic reasons and
o legal reasons.

HSE management should therefore consider five broad phases:
* Specifications
* Design and implementation
* Installation and commissioning
* Operation and maintenance
* Changes after commissioning.
* Compliance with the standards requires four essential elements:
* Identification of safety functions required for the safe shutdown
* Assignment of a safety integrity level (SIL) for each safety function
* Use of the safety lifecycle for the engineering design and
* Verification of the SIL achieved for each safety function.

3.0 ENGINEERING CODE OF PRACTICE
The engineering code of practice takes into consideration the following:
* Public safety: Giving priority to the safety and well-being of the community and having regard to this principle in assessing obligations to the clients, employers and colleagues.
* Risk Management: Taking reasonable steps to minimize the risk of loss of lives, injuries or suffering.
* Workplace and construction site: Minimizing potential dangers involved in the construction and manufacture of engineering products and processes.
* Public/Community well-being
* Communication
* Conflicts of interest
* Confidentiality

The privilege of practicing engineering is entrusted to those qualified and who have the responsibility for applying engineering skills, scientific knowledge and ingenuity for the advancement of human welfare and quality of life. Fundamental principles of conduct of engineers include truth, honesty and trustworthiness in their service to the society, honourable and ethical practice showing fairness, courtesy and good faith towards clients, colleagues and others. Engineers take societal, cultural, economic, environmental and safety aspects into consideration and strive for the efficient use of the world's resources to meet long term human needs.

4.0 SAFE ENGINEERING DESIGNS
Safety is a concern in virtually all engineering design processes. Engineers should understand safety in the context of engineering design and what it means to say that a design is safe against human injuries.

Current design methods prioritize economic considerations over environmental ones. In some cases, economic considerations also serve environmental goals. For instance, the minimization of materials used in a structure means resources are saved. If they are saved at the expense of the length of the operating life of a product, then, economic considerations conflict with environmental interests which demand that products be made as durable as possible because of the need to minimize resource usage and waste generation in the long term.

Safety is the antonym of risk. So, a design is safe to the extent that it reduces risk. Safe design aims at minimizing risk in the standard sense of this term.

A safe design is the combination of all those procedures and principles that are used by engineers to make designed objects safe against accidents leading to human death or injuries, long term health effects, damage to the environment or malfunctioning in general.

Several design strategies used to achieve safety in operations of potentially dangerous technology are:
* inherently safe design
* safety factors
* negative feedback (self-shutdown) and
* multiple independent safety barriers.

Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) is the most common method of assessing safety but safe designs are used to reduce risks in the standard (probabilistic) sense but is inadequate. Safe design strategies are used to reduce estimated probabilities of injuries or reducing uncertainties not only risks. They are used to cope with hazards and eventualities that cannot be assigned meaningful probabilities.

5.0 DESIGN PRINCIPLES IN ENGINEERING
There are four (4) main design principles in Engineering practice.

(a) Inherently safe design:
This minimizes the inherent dangers in the process as far as possible. Potential hazards are excluded rather than enclosed or coped with. For instance, dangerous substances are replaced by less dangerous ones and fire proof materials are used rather than inflammable ones.

(b) Safety Factors
Construction should be strong enough to resist load and disturbances exceeding those that are intended. A common way to obtain such safety reserves is to employ explicitly chosen numerical safety factors are employed. If a safety factor of two (2) is employed when building a bridge, then the bridge is calculated to resist twice the maximal load to which it will be exposed to in practice.

(c) Negative feedback mechanisms
This is introduced to achieve a self-shutdown in case of device failure or when the operator looses control. Examples are safety valves that let out steam when the pressure is too high in a steam boiler and the dead man's hole that stops the train when the driver falls asleep. One of the most important safety measures in the nuclear industry is to ensure that reactors close down automatically in critical situations.

(d) Multiple Independent Safety Barriers
Safety barriers are arranged in chains, so that each barrier is independent of its predecessors (if the first fails, the second is still intact). The first barriers prevent accidents; the second barriers limit the consequences of an accident and rescue services as the last resort.

Safety factors and multiple safety barriers deal with uncertainties as well as risks. But currently, Probabilistic Risk Analysis (PRA) is used but does not deal with uncertainties. Probabilistic calculations can support but will not supplant the Engineers' ethically responsible judgment (environment, health and safety culture).

Safety engineering principles also include education of operators, maintenance of equipment and installations and incidence reporting are examples of safety practices of general importance.

6.0 HEALTH, SAFETY & ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT IN ENGINEERING PRACTICE
The Engineering profession is expected to be the harbinger of Health, Safety & Environmental management by virtue of the complexity of the output of the profession and their impacts on the lives of the general populace. How have we carried this along in our professional practices?

Seven (7) bad engineering practices have been identified:
* Believing that if something is not specifically stated, either "shall do" or "shall not do" in the standards, an engineer does not need to worry about it.
* Thinking that meeting the minimum requirements means the process is safe and complies with the standard.
* Ignoring the importance of good engineering practice.
* Designing systems that meet economic requirements but not safety protection requirements.
* Neglecting human factors (errors in calculations etc)
* Focusing on capital cost and not on lifecycle costs.
* Focusing only on the safety integrity level (SIL) and not on prevention.

Safety is an essential ethical requirement in engineering practice. Strategies for safe design are used not only to reduce estimated probabilities of injuries but also to cope with hazards and eventualities that cannot be assigned meaningful probabilities. Designers have an ethical responsibility to make constructions that are safe for future use. Safety is concerned with avoiding certain classes of events that are morally right to avoid.

In engineering design, safety consideration always includes safety against unintended human death or injuries that occur as a result of the unintended use of the designed object for:
* Prevention of damage to the environment
* Prevention of long term health effects

For example, if a bridge collapses, the engineers who designed it are held responsible.

Building designers and builders must obey construction safety in the use of Scaffolds, tool nets, tool boxes, mechanical lifts and manual lifts under safe procedures, use of personal protective equipments (PPEs) on sites (boots/helmets), clear passages and road-ways, construction tapes to cordon off work areas etc. Most engineers have neglected this aspect, thus, playing with the lives of the generality of the populace.

What engineers do have lasting influences on safety and define our level of Environment, Health and Safety culture.

7.0 ETHICAL OBLIGATIONS IN ENGINEERING PRACTICE
Ethical obligations are necessary in order for engineers to carry out their profession. Without the obligation of confidentiality, clients could not trust engineers with commercially sensitive information. Without these information, engineers could not do their jobs. The moral obligations of our profession can be understood as duties which are necessary.

There are five (5) fundamental values necessary for the ethical obligations:
* Protection of lives and safeguarding of people.
* Professionalism, integrity and competence
* Commitment to community/public well-being
* Sustainable management and care for the environment
* Sustaining engineering knowledge

8.0 ENGINEERING PRACTICE REQUIREMENTS
* Engineers shall hold paramount the Health, Safety and Environment/welfare of the public in the practice of their profession.
* Engineers shall practice only in their areas or field of competence, in a careful and diligent manner and in conformance with standards, laws, codes, rules and regulations applicable to engineering practice.
* Engineers shall examine the societal and environmental impact of their actions and projects, including the use and conservation of resources and energy in order to make informed recommendations and decisions..
* Engineers should declare their interests clearly.
* Engineers shall sign and take responsibility for all engineering works which they prepared or directly supervised. Engineers may sign works prepared by others only with their consent and after sufficient review and verification.
* Engineers shall act as faithful agents for their employers or clients and maintain confidentiality, avoid conflicts of interest whenever possible and disclose unavoidable conflicts.
* Engineers professional concerns must be made known to the client and the consequences of engineering decisions or judgments.
* Engineers should reject any public works, engineering decisions or practice that endanger the HSE of the public.
* Engineers shall commit to life-long learning, strive to advance the body of engineering knowledge and should encourage other engineers to do likewise.
* Engineers shall promote responsibility, commitment and ethics both in the education and practice phases of engineering. They should enhance society's awareness of engineer's responsibilities to the public and encourage the communication of these principles of ethical conduct among engineers.

9.0 HSE SUSTAINABILITY MANAGEMENT
This is about the long term survival of humanity. It recognizes that decisions made today must enable both those in the present as well as people of the foreseeable future to make effective choices about their quality of life.

Failure to identify risks to safety and the inability to address or control these risks can result in massive costs, both human and economic. The multidisciplinary nature of safety engineering means that a very broad array of professionals are actively involved in accident prevention or safety engineering.

A critical fault endangers or few people. A catastrophic fault endangers, harms or kills a significant number of people. Engineer's errors or inability to incorporate the HSE management in his practice spells catastrophic.

10.0 THE WAY FORWARD
Everyone must strengthen his or her understanding of HSE awareness by making safety a priority. Also, cost effective solutions in order to gain the biggest return on investment should be developed.

Engineers take early design of a system, analyze it to find what faults can occur and then propose safety requirements in design specifications upfront and changes to existing systems to make the system safer.

If significant safety problems are discovered late in the design process, correcting them can e very expensive. This type of error has the potential to waste large sums of money.

* At all times, take all reasonable care to ensure that your work and the consequences of your work cause no unacceptable risk to safety.
* Take all reasonable steps to make your management/client and those to whom they have a duty of care aware of the risks you identify.
* Make anyone overruling or neglecting your professional advice formally aware of the consequent risks.
* It is critical for engineers to maintain a deep and broad understanding of the many technical and professional practice issues that they will inevitably encounter in their role as employees of public owners. This is achieved through appropriate education, training, experience, license, professional engineering practice and continuing professional development.

11.0 CONCLUSION
The engineering practice like the construction industry is the agent of social and economic development, the barometer of economic activities and a very large employer of labour in Nigeria. It accounts for over 60% of the total capital investment. It is the largest employer of labour (think of all the electrical, mechanical, civil, chemical and computer jobs in industries).

Health, Safety and environment, which is concerned with life and property must be taken serious in this profession. Safety procedures are necessary to prevent accidents, diseases and harmful effects on the health of the public at large arising from the activities in the industry on site and its environs or off site.

Good HSE management is visible in a country through the quality of the professional ethics of the professionals, engineers inclusive and the level of her health values and the state of her environment, that is, her level of cleanliness (personal hygiene and public sanitation).

It can only be developed through personal commitment, willingness and self-sacrifice because of the long and short run benefits therein. HSE management habit starts with safety consciousness. Safety consciousness dwells with each and every one of us and should be taken along to our professional practices.

People should recognize that their health and well-being are related to the quality of their environment and should apply thoughtful principles to attempt to improve the quality of their environment.

As Engineers, we should lead others in being safety conscious at all times and refraining from doing anything that may result to accident. We should apply safety measures to all our daily activities and take our safety and that of others around us as our responsibilities especially in our practices.

Finally, as Engineers we should pursue sustainable Health, Safety & environmental management and make it part and parcel of our engineering practice today for the continued relevance of our profession tomorrow. It is only when this is done that our professional ethics will be meaningful knowing fully well that the products of our professional practices have great impact on the lives of the entire citizens of this country.

Health, Safety & Environmental management habit is therefore not only necessary and but remains a vital ingredient of our professional ethics in engineering practice in Nigeria and elsewhere and this must be sustained always by all.

Evolution of Environmental, Health and Safety Compliance and Operational Risk Management Software

Since the late 1980's environmental, health and safety professionals have used a variety of software tools in hope of performing their programs' performance. In this article, the author discusses "The Evolution of Environmental, Health and Safety Compliance and Operational Risk Management Software".

So what exactly is EHS Compliance and Operational Risk Management Software? Well, that can mean many things to many different people and companies. For some companies that are somewhat in the reactive mode - it may mean just tracking occupational injuries, accidents, and claims. For others, for those companies that are slightly more proactive - it may mean audit finding tracking, corrective action tracking, and leading indicator tracking. And for the more advance companies it can mean tracking sustainability efforts, and greenhouse gas reduction efforts. It also can mean authoring and managing material safety data sheets, air emissions reporting, hazardous wastes management generation tracking, industrial hygiene data management, and many other environmental, health and safety program elements. Part of the challenge today, is that there are many systems that are trying to do EVERYTHING - thus making it difficult for companies to get their arms around such a system.

So, let's step back for a moment and discuss the history of environmental, health and safety compliance software, and operational risk management software. Back in the mid-1980's, the majority of EH&S tasks were done by paper, and completion of paper-based forms. EHS professionals were largely the people with the thick binders on their shelves containing all the company EHS rules and programs. At that time, at least at the entry level, personal computers in the workplace were rare. Then as we approached the 1990's a few computers starting appearing around the office, but were pretty much exclusively limited to senior level personnel. Personally, I still recall, looking out my office door, and seeing our library of federal and local regulations that covered the entire wall in one of our common areas. Then in the late 1980's, our first safety management software system appear. It was a DOS based system used for reporting occupational injuries, accidents, and other claims. It was basically, a workers' compensation and liability claims management system. So, it was really an operational risk management software tool. Still at that point, data entry into the system was primarily done by the administrative assistants, and the EH&S management would receive a printed report once per month. As more and more people in the office begin to have dedicated computers, everyone started to get creative in using them to manage various issues, including EHS. I believe the first EHS software tool that I every developed was a Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet used to track employee training.

Then in 1990, the next environmental, health and safety management software tool that I recall using was a system called CMS, which stood for Compliance Management System, and as the name refers to, it was primarily a PC-based system to manage EHS compliance tasks and requirements. It was ugly, but it actually worked quite well. The one challenge however, was in those days, implementation was difficult. A team of people would come out for a week or more, review every permit, every requirement and input them by hand into the environmental, health and safety software system.

Then around 1993, I recall my first experience with the world wide web - I clearly remember that I was in the office of the IT manager who's office was next to mine, and using Mosaic we pulled up the Center for Disease Controls' website. I remember thinking to myself - this is cool - this is really cool. At that time, little did we know, what were where about to experience over the next decade.

After that event, I remember that information technology the environmental, health and safety field just exploded, and in March of 1993, I attended the Global Environmental Management Initiative meeting in Pentagon City, near the Washington, D.C. area. During that meeting, there was a presentation about integrating right-to-know information at Dupont. It was basically centered around managing material safety data sheets. During that same time frame, I recall seeing a presentation by Bill Sugar on Anheuser-Busch's Environmental Management System, which was originally written in Lotus Notes. It had it's shortcomings, but with the leadership of Bill Sugar and his team of environmental, health and safety professionals they took EHS management to a whole new level. We then began to see environmental, health and safety software move from compliance-focused, and regulatory reporting focused to more of a total quality management approach. With the emergence of ISO14001 and OHSAS 18001 managing data began more important. In addition, with increase demand for corporate transparency, the need for rapid access to environmental, health and safety data became even more important.

So, that's some of the early history of environmental, health and safety software. And were do we stand today? Well, that vast majority of environmental, health and safety management systems are web-based. Everyone has an email, everyone has access to a computer, and almost every environmental, health and safety professional has a mobile phone. Today's smartphones have more computing power than those computers back in the late 1980s. Most major corporations collect and report all kinds of environmental, health and safety data. The majority of this data is readily available to the public.

So what challenges do we face today? First off, reducing complexity. Environmental, health and safety software providers have to realize that not every company is going to have a full-time administrator to run these complicated systems. More features, doesn't necessarily mean better. Forget "kitchen sinkness" or "feature creep" which is where software developers think they have to add every single possible feature to the system. In most cases it only increases the complexity of the program without adding additional benefit. If you think about it, the one reason text messaging and Twitter is so popular is that if you can't say it in 140 characters then you're saying too much. Second, there's too many companies offering EHS software solutions out there, there has to be, and will be some industry consolidation.

So, what's in store for the future of environmental, health and safety software? Well, EHS mobile apps will become more important. The use of RFID tags in combination with your mobile phone will become prevalent. While it is difficult to predict what new technologies will develop over the next several years, I do promise you that it will be an exciting time for all EH&S professionals.

Dean Calhoun, is the President of Affygility Solutions. Mr. Calhoun has been an environmental, health and safety professional for over 26 years. Mr. Calhoun has a Masters degree in Environmental Policy and Management, and a Masters Degree in Technology Management from the University of Denver. Affygility provides environmental, health and safety software, potent compound safety, industrial hygiene, and containment validation services to the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and medical device industry. You can learn more about Affygility Solutions and mobile EHS apps by going to: http://affygility.com/affytrac/environmental-health-safety-mobile-application.html

Environmental Health Is Another Casualty of Wall Street Greed and Political Corruption

The current movement of dissatisfaction with the status quo exemplified by the Occupy Wall Street movement is now expanding to cities across the country. It is about employment, equity and fairness. It is also about how the greed of Wall Street, banks and other corporations have trashed our natural world in pursuit of their profits.

Unlike economic injustice, environmental destruction often can not be reversed and made right. When a rainforest is deforested to extract short term profits from oil, wood, cattle and mono crops like soy beans, there is no going back to a health thriving rainforest. When oil is spilled in the billions of gallons the wild life and eco systems that are effected can not return to the pristine state they were in.

I am in full support of the Occupy Wall Street movement and as it builds momentum the many kinds of voices will be heard, I know that the corporate destruction of our eco systems will be one of the top priorities that must be addressed and changed. Our health and the health of our natural world is being choked to death by the cruel and relentless corporate quest for short term profits from resource removal.

One of the most effective tools available to the average person to fight back with is, choosing where to keep their money and how they spend their money. This crisis of greed and corruption is all about money, actually all about our money, the 99 percent of the people's money. The reason the 1 percent of the population has 99 percent of the wealth is because they made their profits off us the working people, the everyday average consumer. If we change our buying habits even a little the reaction from the market (the corporations) is swift. They will adjust immediately to appease the source of their profits. If the majority or even a large percentage of depositors at a major corporate bank closed their accounts and moved to a local credit union, you can be sure Bank of America will notice and want to fix the leak. They will make the changes in how they operate to address the reasons people are taking their money elsewhere.

The same thing goes for how corporations treat the environment. If a large number of the customers who buy products from a major corporation, stop buying and state that they will buy another brand. And they say that until this company stops it's destructive business practice that harms the environment they will not spend their money on any of the company's products, you can bet that Nike will adjust and clean up their act to get that market share back.

Unfortunately as we are now seeing it takes a fairly extreme level of discomfort and oppression to motivate the large numbers of people it takes to influence a large corporation. Or to influence national politicians. With corporations able to buy the political leaders they need from both major political parties, it has become clear that the change we must have, both economically and environmentally, will come from the street. More and more people will reach their personal levels of discomfort and take the step of joining their fellow citizens in the street. The Occupy Wall Street movement is the beginning of a hopefully passive revolution that will demand a major change to the status quo, in many areas of our political, economic and social structures.

This dissatisfaction and mistrust runs deep and it is time for serious change to take place. How political leaders are elected must change, no more bought and sold elected representatives of the people. We must take the profit out of politics. No more revolving door between the corporate world, Capital Hill and the White House. No more bailouts. If a company is too big to fail, then it is too big and should be broken up. If a company fails that's the free market. When has the government (actually that's supposed to be us) bailed out a small business who makes the wrong decisions and fails.

The tax code does have to change, it has to reflect a fair playing field. Those who make the most give back the most. Loop holes that allow the wealthy to pay less tax than the blue collar worker should all be closed. The idea that if you remove all regulations the market will act honestly and with integrity has been shown not to be possible. The greed of the wealthy few tend to shut their eyes to the misery of the many. Corporations must be regulated so that they act fairly and honestly. The population of this country and the world is too large and growing ever larger, basic safety nets must be created and maintained so a reasonably fair playing field exists or people will continually reach their levels of discomfort and will go into the streets.

Change is coming, how it will manifest itself it yet to be seen. How much resistance to change corporate and political leaders will exhibit will determine how this all plays out.

As for human sustainability and preserving our environment, time is not on our side. If major actions are not taken soon, tipping points of no return will be reached. The levels of discomfort for most people will sky rocket, even the wealthy at the top will not be able to avoid the misery. Lets wake up the sleeping masses. Occupy the status quo and demand change now.

Michael Chadd writes frequent articles for submission on the internet, her is a natural health and herbal nutrition coach. He also trains people for success in eco home businesses. To see more about what Michael is doing go to http://www.amazonpreservation.com

Your question is? If the right business came along and the timing is right in your life, are you open to taking a look? If yes, then go to http://www.homebusinessconnection.org/overview.html and take serious look.

Solving Environmental Health Problems


Global warming, unsafe drinking water, poor air quality inside and outside and contaminated food supplies, those are just some of the big environmental health problems we are currently experiencing. These problems may seem very overwhelming, it may seem inevitable and unavoidable, but it is us who have all the power to prevent or fix these problems. It is us who have all the power to decrease pollution, limit our exposure, and most importantly, strengthen our bodies and environmental systems in order to resist contamination.

Decrease pollution: Try to improve your quality of life by decreasing your contribution to pollution. A good example would be to turn down the thermostat during winter time; doing so will decrease carbon dioxide emissions and also improve the quality of indoor air.

Using HVAC (Heating Ventilating & Air Conditioning ) on high levels will redistribute contaminants inside a building. To avoid using HVACs try and wear appropriate clothing for the temperature. For example, instead of turning up the heater during cold days, just wear a thick jacket in order to save electricity; you won't just save electricity, but your body's immune system will be strengthened and it will be trained to live in rhythm with nature.

Safe pesticides and cleaners: While it is recommended to avoid pesticides completely, if you should use them, use biodegradable and safe pesticides. When it comes to cleaning agents, you should also use biodegradable and safe cleaning agents. In cleaning your house, it is best to limit the use of chemicals to prevent contaminants from getting inside. Biodegradable products will also keep your water supplies safe for drinking.

Exposure to contaminants: If possible, try and limit your exposure to contaminants. The human body was designed to process at a specific level of contamination. Environmental health problems are the result of exposure to levels that are too high for the body to process. As it is always important to decrease levels, if there already are some contaminants present, precautions should be taken in order to limit exposure. A good method to avoid exposure to lung illness is ventilating your home. The use of a HEPA-filtered vacuum in your home will get rid of any paint led chips which will make your children safe from lead poisoning. Another way to limit your exposure to chemicals is insuring that your building materials, clothes, furniture and other products you use on a daily basis are only made of materials which do not emit chemicals. Perfume and smoke are also contaminants. A perfume-free and also smoke-free environments are protections against exposure.

Organic foods: It is always best to eat natural, organic foods, and also drink clean water and exercise in clean environments; you should always know that you are eating. There are types of fish that are caught from certain areas that have pollutants such as mercury in their tissue; this can cause some developmental problems in fetuses and children. While pesticides increase crop yields, they also increase the presence of contaminants in our water and soil. Installing a water filter system will insure that the drinking water will be clean.

Always remember that eating naturally will decrease exposure to contaminants.

QMIEnvironmental.com promotes best practices, turning environmental problems into beneficial solutions. It also supports the use of eco-friendly products and green technology in the preservation on green environment. You, as an individual can also extend help in solving this environmental health issues that our world is facing today.

Environmental, Health and Safety Audits - Tips For Success!

Since the early 1970's, private industries have recognized the benefits of conducting environmental, health and safety audits at their regulated facilities. In general, the purpose of an environmental, health and safety audit is to ensure compliance with the myriad of environmental, health and safety regulations that have been promulgated by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and many other federal, state and local agencies. In addition, contemporary audits include the implementation of environmental health and safety management systems such as ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 and adherence to corporate standards or guidelines. In order for an environmental, health and safety audit to be successful, the author offers the following tips:

   1. A lead auditor must be assigned. This person will have the primary responsibility for assembling the audit team, defining the scope of the audit, preparing the agenda and audit plan, reviewing the draft report, and following up with any required corrective actions upon completion of the audit.
   2. A primary site contact will need to be assigned. In most cases, this contact will be an environmental, health and safety manager or a person with similar responsibilities. This person should have access to all important environmental, health and safety records and permits, and should have unimpeded access to every physical area of the facility. In addition, verify that the primary site contact communicates with the highest ranking member of management at the site about the audit and its schedule. Nothing causes more of an uproar than conducting an environmental, health and safety audit at a facility where the senior management team is unaware of its occurrence. Of course, if your company has a policy that "surprise audits" are acceptable then that's a different story.
   3. Pre-planning for an environmental, health and safety audit is as important as the audit itself. Much of the success of an environmental, health and safety audit program depends upon careful planning. At least two weeks prior to the on-site activities, the lead auditor should prepare and distribute an agenda to all involved personnel, including the site contact.
   4. Provide a list of requested documents and programs to the site contact. Copies of these documents should be received by the audit team well in advance of the on-site activities. Important documents to be included on this list are regulatory permits such as air permits, wastewater permits, radioactive materials licenses, storm water permits, etc. Written programs and associated training materials for regulatory programs such as hazard communication, chemical hygiene, respiratory protection, bloodborne pathogens, and hazardous waste management. If you are uncertain if any of these programs apply to a given facility, go ahead and include it on the list and provide the respondent with the "not applicable" option. For larger facilities, having a site map may also be helpful.
   5. Review written documents. The amount of time that you will have on-site will generally be limited to one week or less. For larger facilities you must use your on-site time wisely. To the extent possible, review as many of the written documenst prior to the on-site activities. Make notes of important items that you will want to verify during the on-site activities. Prior to the on-site activities, become reacquainted with important regulatory requirements, and review state and local requirements
   6. Review publicly available databases for site regulatory information. Go on-line to the various regulatory databases maintained by OSHA, EPA, and state agencies to see historical information on regulatory inspections, air emissions, hazardous waste generation, etc. What you're looking for is to determine the site's regulatory history and any prior history of violations. If violations have occurred in the past, when on-site you will want verify that systems are in place to prevent repeat violations.
   7. Refine the agenda. Based on the review of the documents, refine the agenda so that there is adequate time to review the items where there may be concerns or areas where there may be higher risk. Don't waste your valuable on-site time on trivial issues.
   8. Make sure that the primary site contact has dedicated adequate time. Nothing is more frustrating for an audit team than to have a primary site contact that is constantly leaving to go attend other meetings or perform other duties. In addition to dedicating adequate time for the audit team, the primary site contact should also reserve a conference room of adequate size, has internet access, and can be secured overnight. During an audit you will be working long hours and reviewing many sensitive documents. You don't want to waste time having to pack up your materials at the end of each day.
   9. Once on-site, conduct an opening conference. Persons that should be at this opening conference include the audit team members, the primary site contact, key operational personnel, and if available, the site manager. During the opening conference introductions should be made, the agenda review, the purpose of the audit review, key schedule items, and the timing of the closing conference. In addition, site personnel should indicate if any special activities are occurring that will prevent them from being available for questions.
  10. After the opening conference, I generally like to take a brief tour of the facility. This tour should not be of any significant detail, but more of a tour to become familiar with the facility. Make notes of areas that you will want to return to for a more detailed examination.
  11. Compare statements made in plans and programs with actual records and activities. Discrepancies between the two may be an indication of program gaps.
  12. At the end of each day the audit team should meet with the primary site contact to review any unanswered questions. Provide the primary site contact with a list of potential findings or areas that need further investigation. In many cases, these items may be resolved simply by locating the correct records.
  13. On the evening before the closing conference, plan on it being a long evening. You will want to prepare a draft list of audit findings. Audit findings should be written as precise as possible. Avoid subjective terms such as "all", "many", "poor", or "inadequate." Provide evidence to support the findings. If further investigation is necessary, state so.
  14. Conduct the closing conference. On the final day of the audit, a closing conference should be conducted. It is preferable that the same attendees that were in the opening conference be present. During the closing conference the audit team should thank everyone for their time and cooperation, all draft audit findings should be reviewed, key concerns should be voiced, and a schedule and distribution list for the draft report should be indicated. It is important that every finding that will be in the draft report be presented. There should not be any surprise finding in the draft report.
  15. Prepare and submit the draft report to the distribution list for review. Make sure that the distribution of the draft audit report is controlled. In some cases where there are significant regulatory findings, e-mail distributed of the draft report should be avoided. Hard copies of the draft report, sent via over night express delivery may be preferred. If there are significant regulatory findings, check with your company's legal counsel prior to distributing.
  16. After review and comment of the draft report, finalize the report and prepare a corrective action plan. This is the most important part of any audit. Now that deficiencies have been found, corrective actions must be performed. A process for tracking the completion of all findings, the priority, and the responsible person(s) is absolutely necessary. Failure to correct found deficiencies in a timely can represent a significant liability to the company. Simple and affordable corrective action software systems are available and should be considered a must have for any environmental, health and safety audit program.

Conducting an environmental, health and safety audit is a valuable tool for improving the EH&S performance at a given location. However, in order to be successful the audit team and site personnel must carefully plan the audit, and ensure that adequate follow-up is conducted on corrective actions to be performed.

Dean M. Calhoun, CIH is the President of Affygility Solutions and has over 25 plus years of professional environmental, health and safety experience. Affygility Solutions provides environmental, health and safety services and compliance management software to the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and medical device industry. Mr. Calhoun has personally conducted dozens of audits at pharmaceutical and biotechnology research facilities and manufacturing plants. In addition to providing environmental, health and safety audits, Affygility Solutions provides industrial hygiene, occupational toxicology, potent compound safety, occupational exposure limits, and containment validation services. Affygility Solutions flagship product called Affytrac is a simple, affordable tool to assist environmental, health and safety managers in the life science industry manage compliance task management, corrective actions, and potent compounds.