Safety Audits: A Brief Overview of What It Is and How to Conduct It Effectively
Safety audits are a prerequisite for any organization, much more for those in a high-risk industry. It is an independently planned and documented examination of a company’s Occupational Health and Safety Management system.
The safety audit is intended to evaluate the standard of the control and the effectiveness of the system being evaluated. The audit asks five important questions. They are listed below:
- Does a Health and Safety management system even exist in the organization?
- If the answer is yes and a health and safety management system do exist, is it being used?
- If the health and safety management system are being used, is it effective or not?
- Does an adequate risk control systems exist? Are they implemented and are they consistent with the hazard profile of the organization?
- Is any appropriate workplace precautions put in place in case of an incident?
These questions form the foundation on which the entire analysis of the audit is based. Why should businesses conduct a safety audit and what types of safety audits exist? We tackle those questions in the following sections.
Benefits of Safety Audits
There are several benefits of conducting a safety audit to measure the health and safety performance of your organisation. For one, it is a very pro-active approach because it helps with developing the criteria for further improvements.
These could be improvements in organizational strengths. It could be an improvement in identifying and controlling organizational weaknesses. In other words, it provides a platform for taking effective organisational planning decisions.
Additionally, a well-structured and properly conducted audit provides an objective view of the actual status of an organisation. It identifies weakness, recognises success, evaluates compliance, and determines the adequacy of policy and procedures against legal requirements and international standards.
Types of Safety Audits
There are two types of health and safety audits and they mostly refer to how they are conducted. These are:
- Internal audits: Someone within the same organization conducts internal audits
- External audits: External auditors are hired to conduct external audits
Although, both types of audits have almost the same operational processes as far as the purpose, content, sequence and depth of the investigations are concerned. The major difference between both lies in the approach.
An internal audit uses a subjective approach, while an external audit uses a more objective approach. A third party, external audit is more objective because it is conducted by expert agencies comprising of well-trained auditors, technical experts, legal specialists etc.
Meanwhile, internal audits use auditors from within the company itself, although, from neighboring departments. As a result, they cannot disclose any weaknesses. Instead, they devise ways of highlighting the strengths of the organisation. In other words, an internal audit is more like preparing for a third-party external auditing.
Safety audit should be taken as a critical link in the chain of sustenance of a safety and health management system for any workplace.
Developing a culture of organizational health and safety starts with proper audit standards set in place. Using audit software can help you fast track the entire process. Take advantage of a free trial today to get started.