Environmental audits are a critical part of a company's environmental performance. But most companies still either don't do them, don't think they need them, or don't do them properly.
A lot of folks we talk to have heard of what an audit is, but don't think they need one or don't want to spend the money since they are unsure how much an audit will cost, or... don't think they'll get any value out of one!
They constantly come back to the question of "do I need an environmental audit?"
Here's why we not only think the answer is a resounding YES, but that it is absolutely and completely a critical requirement for any business today. If you aren't fully sure what this is all talking about, check out What is an Environmental Audit? for some additional information before we dive in here.
Do I really need an environmental audit?
I could make analogies all day long about audits. Let me give you two:
The Human Body - You only get one chance with it, and if you operate it correctly, get it regularly inspected by an expert (your doctor), and correct any deficiencies, you can expect a long, healthy, and happy life. On the other hand, if you avoid the doctor and regular checkups, ignore or fail to recognize any deficiencies found, and hope that you'll be okay without ever really getting yourself checked out, you're likely in for trouble.
Paying Taxes - Speaking of audits… Whether a corporation or in your own personal life, assume for a second you didn't know about filing income tax returns. Imagine one day an IRS agent shows up and wants to know how come you haven't been paying your taxes. Sure it might take a while for them to figure it out, and by then you'll have a false sense of security, but at the end of the day, you'll get caught! What can you expect? Fines, penalties, extra paperwork, headaches, and possibly even jail.
An environmental audit is analogous to both of those scenarios.
An audit performed by an independent expert (that means third-party, not someone associated with your company) will provide the regular checkup needed to stay ahead of problems. Without it, you don't know where you stand, you won't know if you're in compliance, and you won't be able to find and address any problems found.
The annual checkup by the doctor, which most of us do, is the best analogy. Very few of us risk our personal health by avoiding this, but frankly, a very large percentage of corporations risk their businesses, every day, by not having environmental audits done.
And chances are, you're going to need that 'checkup' because there's a ridiculous amount of environmental rules and regulations that apply to every business, including yours.
Honestly, I have yet to meet a company with "their own people" on staff who know it all. And if they do, they are usually, shall we say, at least a little concerned about the outcome of their internal reviews.
Imagine telling the IRS, "I filed my taxes mostly right, isn't that good enough"? Would that excuse get you off the hook? How many companies know it all when it comes to environmental regulations? Do you know if you are fully compliant with every little detail of the permits you do have, let alone those more complicated regulations you may have never even heard of?
So, ask me to convince you that you need an audit, and I'll just as likely ask you to convince me that you don't.
I can't stress it enough. If you're not thinking about audits, using the services of an independent, third-party expert, on a regular basis, you are playing with fire. Need more proof? Here are some other articles where we discuss the (very real) issues that occur due to non-compliance:
We are becoming so serious about environmental audits that we're considering making it a requirement of working with us. Frankly, if you take your business seriously, you have too much to lose to do anything else. And like a doctor who wouldn't (and shouldn't!) stand by and watch a friend's health deteriorate due to lack of checkups and years of unhealthy habits, we're not going to stand by and let that happen to clients of ours who put their business's future in our hands.
Final Thoughts on Environmental Audits
And if you're reading this now, and don't want to consider hiring us here at RMA to conduct your audits, that's fine. Just get someone to do it - they're that important! Find someone who is competent, professional, knows the regulations that pertain to you, and isn't afraid to tell you the truth about where you stand, regardless of the consequences. It's that important.
Don't delay. Literally, as you're reading this, an inspector could be on their way to your facility to do an inspection, a zealous intern could be poring over the records you've submitted to the State, or your neighbor could be on the phone calling in an environmental complaint against you.
Need a hand with environmental audits at your operation? If so, we're here to help. Reach out, let's talk, and see if getting an environmental audit is what your operation needs. To learn more, feel free to contact us online, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, give us a call at 888-RMA-0230, or simply fill out the form below to get in touch.
We discuss environmental audits, why you may consider using one, and how they could benefit your operation. If you type into Google "definition of audit", you get a pretty clear answer, which is "an...