The Heritage Audit Methodology
Environmental management and certification is a journey, requiring periodical reviews, audits and re-certification.
At Heritage, each member of the Programme is reviewed at least once every eight to twelve months to ensure that the standards of the programme; the management system and the internal oversight and reporting systems are being correctly applied and managed.
Audits and reviews are undertaken by one or more qualified Heritage assessors during on-site visits that can last from hours to days depending on the complexity of the business being assessed. The aim of the assessor is to verify compliance with the standards of the Programme and to establish the degree to which the EMS is being applied and supported by management. During the visit, the Heritage team will meet with an in-house Environmental Committee and the site-specific Environmental Officer to understand their methodology, objectives and targets.
The visit encompasses three distinct aspects. The first is a review of documentation and systems, during which the assessor evaluates the degree to which documentation is managed. The second phase is a walk-about and interviews with key personnel to evaluate the degree to which the documented system is being applied - and to determine where operational gaps exist. Before leaving the premises, the assessor will provide a verbal summary of his opinions and findings to management, and discuss any issues that require clarification or explanation.
The final aspect is the preparation of a comprehensive report in which the assessors findings are explained and detailed. This will include non-conformances; non-compliances; areas for improvement; recommendations for improvement and other relevant issues identified during the review.
The business has a period of thirty days in which to raise any objections; make corrections; clarify or question the findings of the assessor. After this - and subject to any changes or amendments that are made to the report, the findings are regarded as final and the report serves as the benchmark for further improvement for the coming year.
In some cases, non-conformances and non-compliances may require immediate rectification by the business to maintain certification, and the business will be afforded reasonable time to rectify the shortcomings. However, if no action is taken to address significant shortcomings, Heritage may suspend or even cancel certification depending on the severity of the problem.