As process safety practices and guidelines continue to grow and mature, greater emphasis is being placed on the selection of competent auditors. More and more companies see the value of conducting high quality process safety audits to uncover possible gaps or deficiencies in their programs. But how do companies assure the competency of potential auditors, regardless of whether they are internal or 3rd party individuals?
An easy way is to let somebody else assure their competency. Process safety auditors can obtain professional certifications to demonstrate their skills and knowledge of process safety regulations and practices. Professional certification involves providing credentials and evidence of appropriate experience and training, as well as proving capabilities (usually done by taking a standardized examination). Utilization of a certified auditor provides assurance that the individual can conduct a high-quality process safety audit.
A more obvious factor to consider is the training the auditor has received. But think back to some of training courses you’ve attended. Do you retain all of the information from those courses years later? Process safety auditors should attend refresher and more advanced training to maintain and broaden their capabilities. With companies continuing to add elements to their process safety management programs, auditors need to ensure they are keeping up with the latest technical and regulatory developments.
Another item to potentially assess is a sample work product to determine the overall quality level of the individual’s or company’s typical audit. Check for whether the sample audit contains an appropriate level of detail. Would it meet industry and regulatory guidelines? How thorough was the audit protocol? Was a consistent approach and documentation style used?
Having competent auditors perform your facilities’ compliance audits is vital. But are you taking the time and making the proper checks to ensure that the individuals are competent? Process safety audits should be performed by competent individuals so companies can receive the critical feedback that is needed to ensure proper risk prevention and mitigation measures are taken at their facilities.