An EHS auditor is a business professional who conducts environmental, health, and safety audits (EHS audits). There are no standard educational requirements for EHS auditors, but they all have strong analytical, organizational and project management skills. Most EHS auditors earn approximately $52,000 per year.
What is an Audit?
The exact definition of an audit may vary from one organization to another, but all audits are comprehensive evaluations of an organization’s programs. They involve systematic and objective processes that gather and evaluate performance data in order to determine compliance against defined criteria. Some audits are required for compliance with government agency regulations, such as EPA environmental tests or mandatory OSHA safety training. Audits formally review company policies, business processes and employee duty requirements. EHS auditors will review everything from training documentation to preventative maintenance systems.
Related Resource: What is an External Auditor?
The Audit Phases
During the pre-audit phase, management will create schedules, notify target facilities and select employees to participate in the audit activities. Because non-conformities may result in loss of safety, quality or environmental certification, most companies hand out reminders and provide helpful training sessions. EHS auditors are welcomed during the opening conference and are provided opportunities to get to know key employees. During the actual audit, there will be orientation tours, employee interviews and reviews of program documentation. After a few days of auditing, EHS auditors will close up the audit with a conference that shares observations and recommendations. One to two weeks later, management will receive their final report and make actionable improvements accordingly.
EHS Auditor Job Duties
EHS auditors usually have a Bachelor’s degree in safety, industrial health or the environmental sciences. Occupational safety and industrial hygiene are popular degree programs for auditors. Most auditors obtain private certification through the Board of Environmental, Health & Safety Auditor Certifications (BEAC). Companies expect that auditors have demonstrated experience working with the laws and regulations relating to safety, health, quality and the environment. They need effective project management experience in planning and executing audits in various industries. Strong verbal and written communication skills are required as well as the ability to effectively build and sustain positive work relationships with corporate clients.
EHS auditors are often passionate about their industry and field of expertise. Audits aren’t just bureaucratic processes, but rare opportunities to promote continuous improvement and business excellence. For example, manufacturing facilities often struggle with limited labor pools, short deadlines and high quality expectations. Instead of interrogating busy production employees, most EHS auditors start out by meeting executives. If auditors document the executives’ disregard of employee well-being and consumer safety, they may require mandatory and expensive engineering upgrades to maintain compliance. However, if executives ask for direction from auditors, the audit may focus less on non-compliance ratings and more on immediately correcting on-site issues and creating safe and sustainable business processes.
An EHS auditor has academic training and technical acumen related to their target field of auditing. They usually have extensive business experience and direct employment experience within their industry.