Having your programs audited can be a daunting task. The article in this section addresses how GE Aviation Systems structures its auditing program to maximize value.
GE Aviation Systems’ Auditing Process
GE Aviation Systems, a subsidiary of General Electric, makes commercial and military jet engines and other aviation products. Paul Bender serves as Compliance Assurance Manager for the company. Their EHS compliance assurance program includes the following: self inspections, general walk-throughs, self-assessment tools, EHS framework, management systems assessment, media reviews, business level third party audit, and audit closure verification audit.
While some of the components to their compliance assurance program are simple (such as self inspections and general walk-throughs), Bender said one of the key components is a business-level third-party audit, when a consulting crew comes in and looks at the site.
"We want to hear what they have to say about our sites. We want to understand their views: Are we complaint?” Bender said. "It’s always good to get that third-party perspective to see how your company is operating.”
As a corporate requirement, the third-party compliance audit is conducted at least biennially. It’s an independent assessment of programs and compliance execution, and a process that complements a site’s internal compliance program. It’s not an optional requirement and doesn’t assess every possible point of compliance, nor does it substitute a site’s ongoing compliance assurance programs.
The following is a basic outline of the GE Aviation audit process:
- Pre-audit call with the site and audit team
- Introductions: Chance for auditors to meet the site they’re auditing, learn about the site how many shifts, what goes on at the site
- Logistics: When you start and end your day, where and when you eat lunch, who you meet with
- Sharing of information and document request
- The Audit
- Opening conference: Meet with the site leaders, supervisors, why they’re there, what they going to do
- Audit execution: Walk the shop, program reviews, etc.
- Closing conference: Presentation—auditor will talk about each topic
- Findings Management
Bender stressed another key aspect of auditing: the human side.
"The person that you’re auditing, they have a fear factor. They’re nervous. They’re scared. You’re criticizing their programs.”
Bender recommends complimenting the good things they do, ensure the audit isn’t personal and stick to the things that are causing the risk.
"It’s about improvement, improving the site, reducing the risk at the site,” he said.