Sunday, February 7, 2010

Audit: The Checks and Balances of Operational Efficiency

Recently, I successfully completed two very different yet critical safety and security audits. Upon doing so, I now contemplate their independent and necessary application toward operational efficiency. In years past, I have participated in such security audits that experience enabled the process to not present challenges and/or intangibles that would take on the role of an unforeseen variable, or represent such difficulties that I would be faced with a loss of valuable time. However, I did find that the processes and required components for the present safety and security audits provided me a more thorough self-induced evaluation of my methodologies and direction as a complete leader. In the end, it is always our goal as industry professionals to assure we exhibit the highest caliber of qualities and applications that demonstrate sound safety and security oriented management practices. The audit processes guarantee those practices achieve departmental, divisional, and/or organizational goal attainability is achievable.

The first of the two audits assured all established corporate mandated practices or Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) were being implemented and executed in the local departmental and/or property operations. While the corporate processes provide for each department and/or property a generalized or skeletal framework for each safety and security processes and procedures, the application of each procedure must be individualized or expanded to a more property specific procedure. For each local department or property to achieve the highest degree of operational efficiency and to strive for an accident-free environment. The corporate audit additionally encompasses a broad overview of departmental or property operations, e.g. an audit composed of several hundred questions or components involving multiple departments and/or divisions property-wide.

The evaluations of safety and security applications in one specific department are as significant as the acceptance and embracement of safety and security practices within another department and/or division. The goal is the development of a safety and security program that involves total associate participation. Moreover, an additional element to the corporate audit is the requirement of continued knowledge of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and the application of its established standards regarding safety and security. The goal of OSHA is to enhance existing processes and procedures and assure compliance of staff and/or general public safety is first and foremost the highest priority by the organization in its operations prerequisites. Because the first of the two audits is so in-depth, it is very time consuming. The normal time needed for the corporate audit is eight or more hours, this is property specific and ranges greatly depending upon the general make up of the property, e.g. city versus resort, luxury and/or residences.

The second of the two audits is more localized, and involves the checks and balances of safety and security processes that coincide with local emergency and/or fire and safety entities, e.g. local fire and rescue departments. This audit or inspection is performed by the local Fire Marshall. While this audit or inspection is not as time consuming as the corporate audit, it is no less important and critical to operational requirements. This audit encompasses combining knowledge of local governing ordinances, state laws and OSHA prerequisites, e.g. inspection of emergency generator, electrical closets, automatic sprinkler systems, alarm systems, elevator operations, horizontal fire doors, fire alarm enunciator panels, emergency strobes and speaker systems, fire stairwells, emergency egress, services corridors and fire control rooms. Moreover, the Fire Marshall evaluates all conference or public assembly rooms for correct occupancy cards and permits, structural drawings that exhibit state or local certification and approval by a local emergency entity, employee training regarding emergency evacuation processes and procedures, and appropriate storage room usage for safety clearance for ceiling (sprinkler systems). All such components have one key element as its focal point; emergency processes and the protection of life and assets. The normal time needed for the Fire Marshall audit is four to six hours, this too is property specific and ranges greatly depending upon the general make up of the property, e.g. city versus resort, luxury and/or residences.

The two audits I have discussed at length demonstrate the significance of their role in enhancing organizational efficiency regarding the conceptualization, training, implementation and the fostering of management practices toward the assurance of safety and security as first and foremost within organizational prioritization. The two audits compliment each other as they provide blanket of protection for asset protection. The knowledge gained by such audits truly enable individuals charged with the direction of safety and security to demonstrate practices that will align corporate and local safety and security measures that are proactive and continual in the education of safety and security in today’s work environments.

Bernard S. Robinson
Managing Partner, Principal
Robinson Security Consultancy

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