CER Compliance Audits: Lessons Learned

January 25, 2021

The CER has issued Information Advisory 2021-001 (IA). This IA looks at the findings from our 2019-2020 focused management system audits and clarifies our expectations to companies for contractor oversight and control room management. It shares common deficiencies from the six audits, recognizes good practices and shares ways to improve.

Audits are used to evaluate a company’s management systems and work practices, and are an effective tool to identify any issues before they can become a bigger problem. Management systems are essentially the “blue print” used to operate safely, mitigating the risks and promoting continual improvement. We know that those companies who have an effective management system also have better safety and environmental performance; which is why auditing is so important.

When deciding which companies to audit and what areas to look at, we use a risk-informed approach; meaning we focus on who and what could pose a higher risk to people or the environment. The risk is based on many factors, including other events like incidents and compliance activities like inspections.

Companies are required to build a Corrective Action plan to address all findings. Those corrective actions are again verified by the CER through meetings and inspections. If at any time we are concerned with a company’s operation or response, we have a number of compliance and enforcement tools we can use. We review all findings to identify any emerging trends so that we can find ways to improve industry performance as a whole and/or clarify our expectations so all companies can improve their operation.

Consistent with our commitment to transparency, all findings are made public and posted to our website, so that industry and the CER are fully accountable to Canadians and Indigenous Peoples. This IA is intended to promote not only transparency, but also learning, by highlighting key gap areas that all of industry can benefit from. We expect companies to review this IA and assess their own management systems for the deficiencies noted and look for ways to incorporate these learnings as soon as possible. The CER plans to apply this data to our oversight activities, including asking select companies to show how they are using this information to improve safety.

Audits are one of the many oversight activities the CER undertakes, including:

  • incident follow-up
  • near-miss follow-up
  • review of remediation files
  • review of condition compliance
  • inspections
  • emergency management exercises, and
  • implementation assessments.

They are all used for the purpose of ensuring companies are meeting requirements to keep people safe and protect the environment. In 2020 the CER conducted more than 1000+ of these types of activities. If during these activities we find that companies aren’t following the rules, we don’t hesitate to take action. Learn more about how we do this by reading our reports on compliance and enforcement.

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