A safety audit aims to disclose the strengths, the weaknesses and the main areas of vulnerability or risk to an organization with regards to potential losses to people, property or the environment. It is important to ensure that the attitude of all personnel to the safety audit practice is positive. It may need to be pointed out that the purpose of an audit is to help management to establish those areas within an organization where additional effort is required. The audit is not there to find fault with the efforts of local management. Instead, the safety audit should be an aid to continuous improvement.
The objective of the health & safety audit is to evaluate the effectiveness of the company’s safety effort and make recommendations which lead to a reduction in accidents and minimization of loss potential. Safety audits are an important part of a company’s control system and these checks ensure that deteriorating standards are detected.
Health & safety audits are conducted in order to assess the degree of compliance with the applicable safety regulatory requirements and with the procedural provisions of a Safety Management System (SMS) if one is in place. They are intended to provide assurance of the safety management functions, including staffing, compliance with applicable regulations, levels of competency and training.
Safety audits are used to ensure that:
- An organization’s Safety Management System has a sound structure and adequate staffing levels;
- Approved procedures and instructions are followed;
- That the required level of personnel competency and training to operate equipment and facilities is achieved;
- Equipment performance is adequate for the safety levels of the service provided;
- Effective arrangements exist for promoting safety, monitoring safety performance and processing safety issues;
- Adequate arrangements exist to handle foreseeable emergencies.
Safety audits can be classified into three categories:
- Compliance audit
- Program audit
- Management systems audit
The Compliance Audit
The most basic audit is a compliance audit or inspection. OSHA regulations are written such that employers must furnish their employees with a place of employment that is free from recognized hazards and complies with certain OSHA standards. Management then develops programs for each employee to comply with certain standards, rules and regulations. In addition, compliance requirements dictate certain record-keeping, programs and training requirements. A true compliance audit will look at all three factors — conformance, record-keeping and training.
The Program Audit
To achieve a goal of reducing accidents and incidents as well as unsafe acts and conditions which result in accidents, you must have written programs in place that dictate how to implement safety rules or requirements. A program audit is an analysis that gauges the implementation and strategy of these safety programs. Is the company following its own procedures and programs?
Both the compliance and program audit are useful snapshots to indicate potential exposures and risks. The value of these audits is to find the health & safety gaps so they can be closed. Another value is to verify if people are really following established safety guidelines.
The Management Systems Audit
The final step in a comprehensive safety audit is to evaluate and validate the effectiveness of, and management’s commitment to, safety compliance and programs, employee involvement, and risk control procedures. The management systems audit examines accountability, the effectiveness of this implementation and how well the company’s health and safety program is integrated into the overall culture. A management systems audit integrates all three audit techniques, document review, interviews and workplace observation, to make these determinations. Finally, to make safety programs sustainable, they must be integrated into the company’s existing business practices.
NGE’s experienced staff have extensive experience in third-party independent assessments and audits, regulatory compliance and industry best management practices. Contact us to team with NGE on your next health & safety audit.