Audits of an organisation's environmental management system should be conducted at planned intervals to determine and provide information to management on whether the system conforms to planned arrangements and has been properly implemented and maintained. They can also be performed to identify opportunities for improvement in an organisation's environmental management system.
An organisation should establish an audit program to direct the planning and conduct of audits and to identify the audits needed to meet the program objectives. The program should be based on the nature of an organisation's operations, in terms of its environmental aspects and potential impacts, the results of past audits, and other relevant factors.
Each audit need not cover the entire system, so long as the audit program ensures that all organisational units and functions, system elements and the full scope of the environmental management system are audited periodically.
The audits should be planned and conducted by an objective and impartial auditor(s), aided by technical expert(s), where appropriate, selected from within the organisation or from external sources. Their collective competence should be sufficient to meet the objectives and scope of the particular audit and provide confidence as to the degree of reliability that can be placed on the results.
The results of an environmental management system audit can be provided in the form of a report and used to correct or prevent specific nonconformities, fulfil one or more objectives of the audit program, and provide input to the conduct of the management review.