Are You Ready for an Audit?

ADCI Executive Director Phil Newsum offers tips and advice to better prepare for an ADCI audit.

 
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ADCI resumed its Audit Initiative on July 1 for companies and schools that have not previously submitted to the ADCI Audit. All companies and schools that have not gone through an ADCI audit will have until June 2022 to complete the process for continued membership. As COVID-19 variants continue to proliferate society and the workplace, preventative measures are being taken to safeguard health. Please reach out to ADCI directly with any questions and concerns.

Explain the difference between a self-audit and designated audit? Which do I qualify for (or which would you recommend?)

PN: The difference between a self-audit and standard audit is with a self-audit, the audit report is populated by the party being audited. There is no third party observing or reviewing the items to be audited. A self-audit is pretty much like the company taking inventory of its equipment, personnel and operations. It is an inventory of a company or school’s operational readiness. Selfaudits are a great annual practice for companies in preparation for the actual audit.

How often are companies and individuals required to do an audit?

PN: Presently, the ADCI requires all General Members and Associate Member Schools to undergo the audit as part of the application process. It is a one-time occurrence, that must be successfully completed before the ADCI Board of Directors ratifies a company or school’s membership in the association. Applications for membership need to also include a self-populated copy of the audit report. This gives the company or school a good working knowledge of what the third party designated auditor will be reviewing when the actual audit takes place. The ADCI does not audit individuals, only diving contractors and commercial diver training programs.

 

How long does an audit take on average?

PN: Audits can range from 30-90 days, depending on how prepared the company or school is for the audit. It completely depends on the number of noted deficiencies and the amount of attention that the company/school devotes to addressing the deficiencies. Procrastination is the biggest reason for why the audit process can drag on for months on end. Companies/schools that are looking to secure membership in the ADCI typically address deficiencies from an audit with more urgency than those that are already members that need to go through the audit initiative. However, failure to go through the required audit initiative will result in termination of membership. The audit initiative was launched in March 2017 for all companies and schools that have not previously gone through the ADCI audit process.

What are some tips for an ADCI audit preparation?

PN: The best way to prepare for the audit is to first take the audit internally (selfaudit). Being familiar with what is contained in the audit report is a great first step. Also, management should get the audit report in the hands of those who will be responsible for getting the company/school prepared for the audit is crucial.

Company and school personnel should also be familiar with the International Consensus Standards for Commercial Diving and Underwater Operations, which is what the audit report is based upon. Being transparent and prompt with all requested advance submittals from the auditor is also a key factor in completing the audit in a timely manner. For example, if a company’s Safe Practices and Operations Manual is missing some key information (in compliance with the Consensus Standards), provide it to the auditor anyway, so that they can review it and let you know in detail what, if anything, needs to be remediated. In addition to all the above, the company/school needs to remember that the audit is not “pass/fail.” It is an educational process for both the company/school and the ADCI. Removing the phobia of being audited will go a long way towards successfully completing the audit process.

What are the most failed components of an audit? How can this be avoided?

PN: The most failed components of the audit are things that can easily be avoided by being familiar with what is stated in the Consensus Standards. Nothing about the audit process should come as a surprise. The audit reports for both contractors and schools are widely publicized, and all aspects of the process are provided well in advance of the actual audit itself.

If I fail an audit, what are the next steps?

PN: Since there is no “pass/fail” with the audit process, that should alleviate some of the stress that can come with an audit. Should a company or school fail to prepare for an audit, it may result in the additional costs of having to reschedule flights and hotel accommodations. Again, the ADCI audit is an educational process to help the company or school assess its operational readiness.

 

How much does an audit cost?

PN: The cost of the audit depends on how quickly and directly a company/school addresses the noted deficiencies from the audit. The location of the company, in relation to where the dive-site portion is being conducted, can also factor into the cost. This is one reason why the association allows for staged dives in either tanks or pools to fulfill the dive-site portion. On average, domestic audits have ranged from $3500-$5000 USD. International sector audits can run from $4500-$12,200. If we can secure a trained designated auditor in the international sector, such as what we have in China and Latin America, we can reduce costs considerably.

Are audits taking longer due to COVID-19 restrictions or delays? How far out do I schedule an audit?

PN: Without question, COVID-19 put a major pause on the ADCI Audit Initiative, and audits done as part of the application process. Once our auditors were fully vaccinated, we resumed conducting audits with the signed release of liability agreement by the company, the association, and designated auditor. The most important thing is to ensure personnel safety. An audit takes a big second place to personnel safety.

There is no amount of urgency that warrants conducting the audit in unsafe conditions. For example, we have a few companies in politically unstable countries that need to undergo the audit process. However, until we can guarantee the safety of the designated auditor, we cannot perform audits within those countries.

What’s the most intensive part of an audit from the auditor’s perspective? How can a company make it easier?

PN: If the company/school has prepared for the audit, no portion of it should be “intense.” I have personally had to suspend an audit because of the lack of safety exhibited by the contractor/school. This can come as a shock to the party being audited, but it also comes as a shock to the auditor. Often, people don’t know what they don’t know. In the end, that’s what the audit process is supposed to flesh out. It’s an educational process.

Are there repeat offenses from the same company? What happens if the same company is uncompliant in multiple audits?

PN: The ADCI has a membership review process for companies/schools that have suffered a fatality or accident where equipment and operational deficiencies can’t be ruled out. As part of the membership review process, an audit is conducted to ensure that the party is operating in adherence to the Consensus Standards. Depending on the audit findings and results of the investigation of the regulator or maritime authority, the ADCI may suspend or terminate the company/school’s membership. These are extreme examples of how an audit can impact membership. The ADCI audit is a tool to measure the equipment and operational readiness of a company or school.