What is a Safety Audit?
Safety Audits are a useful method of assessing a business health and safety operations regardless of their size or the industry they work in. Whether you are an education facility, a transport company, or a manufacturing facility, an audit can be of great value to you and your workers. As a leading provider of third-party health and safety audit services, the Safety Consultant team at DRA Safety understands hazards in businesses, having worked in numerous industries and assisted many like companies in the past. A Certified Safety Consultant can be a valuable asset in helping to complete an audit of a business.
A Certified Safety Consultant has expertise in understanding the legal requirements of health and safety, as well as what workplace safety systems should be in place to ensure the safety of employees. Some of the risks are difficult to identify without assistance as they are usually related to instances where workers had been injured or worse. Our Safety Consultants continue to keep themselves abreast of current and emerging trends. Often companies employ a safety person and believe it is all common sense, however if the business fails to keep up with the changing benchmarks of health and safety, they be putting the business and workers at risk.
When completing a Safety Audit of a business’s Safety Management System, we conduct a comprehensive review and assessment of the existing safety practices. This includes reviewing any existing health and safety plans, health and safety documentation and procedures, and assessing the safety training provided to staff. They will also evaluate the current state of any safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, emergency exits, and other safety equipment.
A safety audit is a structured process that is used to measure a business against a defined standard or tool and to collect information related to their efficiency, effectiveness, reliability, related to health and safety. An auditor is required to observe the processes, work environment, the condition of equipment, and other details. The Auditor will also question workers supervisors and managers to better gauge these qualities. Safety audits is not a technical inspection or spot-check inspection. Auditors review the extent of the company’s safety documentation to determine any gaps and to offer recommendations for improvement.
While any of the safety audits may be completed internally by employees, internal audits may have limitations. The staff member completing the Internal audits can be influenced by management. The staff member may also have biases. Both of these instances may hinder the internal auditor’s objectivity. This is where an independent third-party auditor can bring a fresh perspective. This will allow for a more objective interrogation of the businesses systems. Using an external auditor can assist in identifying and describing an accurate assessment of the Businesses workplace and health and safety systems.
As part of the PCBU’s primary duty of cate there needs to be safe systems developed implemented, monitored and reviewed. This is where the health and safety management systems fit into the business. The Safety Audit is an evaluation of this system and not judgement on individuals. it is these systems that provide the framework for maintaining a safe working environment. The Auditor should interrogate this safety management system to ensure that it is compliant to the legislative requirements and implemented as stated.
Having the health and safety management system ‘checked’ on a scheduled basis assists in realigning any documents before there is an issue. Having a well-structured health and safety management system will assist in identifying hazards and guide the implementation of corrective actions. This will also assist in fostering a culture of continuous improvement.
If gaps are identified and/or areas are highlighted for enhancement, the business is in a position to implement proactive measures to ensure that the workplace is safer. Audits are not about ticking boxes or checklists. The focus of the Audit is the health and safety management system and making recommendations for improvement and having a self-sustaining system.
For the maintenance of health and safety in a workplace, the safety audit is a business’s compass, guiding improvements for a safer, more efficient workplace. An Audit can be conducted internally or with the assistance of a certified safety consultant. in either process the auditor must be able to identify gaps in the health and safety system, develop meaningful recommendations so that the business can implement corrective actions. This process will ensure the business is continuously improving safety standards. It is not a box ticking exercise but a commitment to the well-being of workers and the improvements in the business operations.
Purpose of a Safety Audit
These audits serve the following functions:
- identify strengths and weaknesses.
- assess compliance with statutory obligations.
- compare current documentation and practices against best practices and legal obligations.
- recommend improvements.
- ensure that adequate resources to manage health and safety are provided.
- ensure that the resources devoted to health and safety are being used affectively, and
- educate the officers of the PCBU about gaps in safety of the PCBU and provide risk-based evidence on the level of risk associated with each gap.
Why have a Safety Audit?
While a full systems health and audit is not necessary for every workplace, they can be focused on specific issues in the workplace. This will assist in determining how effective the current safety programs are and highlight potential hazards the business may not have noticed. Safety Audits can be performed internally by workers, though often less effective. Management structures and egos often get in the way where an independent third-party safety auditor can interrogate your operation objectively.
Benefits of a Safety Audit
Some of the benefits of getting a safety audit for your worksite include:
- Increased safety: An audit can help identify potential hazards and risks that could potentially lead to serious injury or death, allowing you to take action to prevent them.
- Improved efficiency: By assessing the way you manage your safety and health, the audit can help you identify areas of improvement and optimize processes, resulting in increased efficiency and lower costs.
- Reduced legal liability: By ensuring that your business is compliant with safety regulations, an audit can help to reduce the risk of legal action and fines.
- Improved morale: By addressing safety risks, you can ensure that your employees feel safe and secure in the workplace, which can lead to improved morale and productivity.
- Increased customer confidence: By demonstrating your commitment to safety, you can improve customer confidence in your products and services.
- Identify Risks: A safety audit conducted by a professional consultant can help identify potential safety risks in your workplace. A consultant can provide an impartial assessment of your business, allowing them to identify areas of risk that you may not have noticed.
- Enhance Compliance: Since these types of audits are completed by a third-party, it helps to ensure that your business is meeting the necessary safety standards and legal regulations. This can help to enhance compliance and reduce your chances of being fined or sued for not following safety laws.
- Improve Efficiency: Having a safety audit completed can also improve efficiency in your business. By identifying areas of risk, it can help you to implement necessary changes that can save time and money.
- Protect Employees: Most importantly, the audits are important for protecting the safety of your employees. By identifying potential risks and taking steps to repair them, you can ensure that everyone in your workplace is safe and secure.
Types of Safety Audits
- Compliance audits – This is the most common type of safety audit that is completed. This type of audit focuses on the adherence legislation, regulations and codes of practice related to health and safety. Pure compliance does not eliminate hazards in the workplace as additional steps must be undertaken so the company can minimise the occurrence of unsafe acts taken by persons that will put others at risk.
- Management System Audits – This is a Safety Systems Audit which is a measurement against a defined standard. There are numerous standards for example,
- Procedures Audit – This audit process attempts to measure the specific procedures against the actual process completed to ensure adherence with the procedure. This is an ideal method of checking what is written is what is done. Usually completed after a more intense Compliance and/or Management system audit is completed to ensure that the procedure us efficient in eliminating or reducing the (specific) hazards.
Some of the tools provide for a score whilst others use a simple Compliant Non-Compliant outcome. This type of Audit draws an overall picture of the safety management system as it relates to a specific audit tool.
Choosing a Safety Auditor
Whichever process is considered, these Audits should be undertaken by appropriately trained internal staff members. Alternatively, an external third party with appropriate qualifications, training, and experience. Check the qualifications and experience of the Auditor. Our safety consultants will provide valuable advice on any new safety regulations that the organisation may need to implement. Not only will this help ensure WHS compliance, but it will also ensure that the company is keeping up with legal requirements and industry best practices.
Steps involved in conducting an Audit.
- Identify the scope of your audit: The first step in the process is to determine the scope of the audit. This includes defining the specific areas of the business that the safety consultant will be assessing.
- Collect documentation: The safety consultant will need to review any documentation related to safety protocols and procedures, such as safety manuals, checklists, and reports.
- Conduct the audit: The consultant will physically inspect the premises and identify any potential safety issues. They may also interview staff to assess their understanding of safety protocols.
- Provide recommendations: The consultant will provide you with a report outlining their findings and recommendations for improving safety.
- Implement recommendations: The next step is to implement the consultant’s recommendations. This may include updating safety manuals, providing additional training, or implementing new safety procedures.
- Monitor results: Finally, you should monitor the results of the safety audit to ensure that the safety protocols are being followed and that the safety standards are met.
Key points to consider when engaging a safety consultant to complete a safety audit for your business.
- Can they demonstrate they have the formal qualifications to conduct the particular audit you require.
- That they can advise you of what standard/tool they will be auditing to
- If they can provide the business with an overview of strengths and weaknesses to management prior to leaving the site.
- Will they work with you to develop an action plan of any non-conformance to assist with moving forward.
- State how long the audit will take and when you can expect your report.
The Consultant can also assist in the creation and amendment of current Safety Management Systems documents that are used to drive improvements. Organisations should have a Safety Management System to assist in ensuring risks such as these to not eventuate or are kept low. We have more information on the Safety Management System we support (Safety Directtm) and the various function it can perform for your organisation.
If you are seeking further information on Audits er have more information in posts and general information:
- Safety Audits for Systems Improvements,
- Internal Safety Auditor Training, and
- The difference between a WHS Site Inspection and Compliance Safety Audit.
We have qualified and certified Safety Consultants that can assist you in your business and offer a range of WHS consulting services along with general and specific health and safety training courses.
Contact us today for an obligation free quote on any of our services.