Compliance or Risk Auditing: What Is the Best Approach?

Compliance or Risk Auditing

If you look closely at the title, you may wonder that compliance, auditing and risk auditing are very different things, so how can you decide which works best?

Well, if stated with examples, we get better clarity.

If a construction industry is issued a compliance audit for its waste disposal, the Environment Protection Officers will come and perform thorough checks and then provide the results of this gap analysis. This is compliance auditing- checking if you are compliant or not!

Now, in risk auditing of a similar industry, let us assume an audit for inventory management. The officer in charge provides that we have 500 PPE kits for use and 100 for emergencies. Thus, when the audit takes place, these numbers should be exact, as stated, for audits to pass positively.

If you look closely at the examples, risk auditing enables you to be prepared for the dangers beforehand. It is technically checking beforehand whether you are compliant or not.

Let us elaborate and understand this further.

EHS Audits and Compliances

EHS audits management is crucial for organizations’ safety and evaluating internal and external compliances. 

A complaint audit evaluates the appropriate working conditions of people, policies, equipment and other technical procedures. Audit risk management ensures that all these three are compliant in their fields effectively. 

An audit risk management ensures that operational risks are identified and measured appropriately. It involves sufficient identification, control, monitoring, and governance. This enables the safety officers to efficiently identify loopholes, deficiencies, and grey areas in the system. 

For example, a chemical factory must adhere to the ever-changing regulations regarding chemicals and their handling. They need proper audit management for regulatory compliance, hazard communications, inventory management, and ensuring environmental protocols. Therefore, risk auditing will ensure that all the above compliances are met according to the industry standards and client requirements. Additionally, making your organization ready for compliance audits – surprise or planned!

Compliance Auditing And Risk Auditing

So now that we know the exact difference between compliance auditing and risk auditing let us know their pros.

Pros of Compliance Auditing

  • It ensures that the employees and the authorities play an essential and collaborative role in a safe working place.
  • It assures that environmental, health and safety are in place according to the rules and regulations.
  • It enhances the efficiency of the organization and builds trust in the stakeholders.

Pros of Risk Auditing

Risk-based auditing

  • It helps stakeholders and authorities understand whether the organization’s risk management is sufficient.
  • It provides the right directions for correct safety governance, risk management, and control.
  • It acts as a catalyst to be compliant in every EHS aspect.
  • It enhances the understanding of all possible risks.

There are only a few cons when it comes to both auditing processes. Both processes are very crucial. But we need to prioritise risk-based auditing. It makes us prepared for every compliance audit. 

Let us dig deeper into why the risk audit approach is better.

Why Is Risk-Based Auditing the Best Approach?

The compliance-based auditing requires many papers to be reviewed and documented to ensure government and regulatory procedures are met. Though it has a digital version, taking every sample to the lab and going through enormous regulations, reviewing them, and then churning out the results is a tedious task. And it is not necessary that the results determine that the safety management system is actually effective.

A risk-based auditing approach identifies the areas wherein the risk is actually present. Thus, when you concentrate on the concerned areas, you automatically tend to treat them with the right actions. And this results in you following most of the compliances. By concentrating on the high-risk areas, you are definitely pushing your safety management system to its best level.


We should have decoded the difference between compliance and risk auditing. Though the risk approach is essential, we cannot wholly ignore compliance-based auditing due to its heavy process. 

Therefore it would be best to use a digital system like EHS software to utilize the best of both worlds. Organizations need to implement a system wherein it comprehensively understands the risks of the system and at the same time, delivers a compliance profile to meet the required standards and regulations.

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