Safety Auditing is critical to efficient health and safety management systems. A safety audit is a formal, systematic, documented review of your systems, procedures, and work practices, which should verify their compliance with the requirements of your WHS Management System and its effective implementation.
Thorough safety audits identify gaps in your system, creating the opportunity to plan corrective actions, close out the gaps, and continuously improve your processes.
This guide offers some techniques from our safety auditors about the audit management process to make your assessments more successful.
How often should Workplace Safety Audits take place?
Safety Audits should be conducted in accordance with an agreed controlled audit schedule. Unscheduled audits, however, may be initiated if necessary and auditees should be notified in advance of impending audits, if appropriate.
Internal Safety Audits should be conducted at least annually. The actual frequency of the auditing of individual work areas or operational aspects, however, should be determined in accordance with the level of risk, and the nature hazards identified.
Who should undertake the Safety Audit?
Trained, suitably qualified and competent Safety Auditors should be assigned to audit. They should be:
- Knowledgeable in health and safety matters, as appropriate to the type of audit.
- Independent, objective and impartial
- Selected to ensure that they have freedom from bias or any other influences that may affect their objectivity
Conduct of the Safety Audit
Safety Audits should include an opening and closing meeting (this is not a requirement for an internal safety audit as this is a site expectation), attended by the audit team and the auditee(s). Safety Management System Audits are best conducted through examination of documents, practices and other evidence, and interviews with personnel. Personnel being audited should fully cooperate with the Safety Auditor and provide any relevant information requested of them.
Thorough safety audits cover at least the following:
- Compliance with the organisation’s WHS requirements (i.e. policies, procedures and work instructions); and
- Compliance with all applicable legislative requirements.
A Non-compliance Note (Non-conformance Request) is normally raised for each identified non-compliance. Non-compliances should also be prioritised.
Safety Audit Report
A report that summarises the safety audit outcome is normally prepared and issued to the Auditee(s) and the Site Manager.
Scope-specific Safety Audits and Assessments
Arrangements should be in place to ensure that all the required scope-specific safety audits and assessments are carried out at the required intervals. These arrangements should specifically apply to safety audits and assessments required by legislation and should include audits and assessments related to:
- Electrical installations and equipment
- Any other audits and assessments, as applicable to the operations
In the event of an audit by a government authority, the responsible manager should review the audit's outcome, specifically mandatory actions and notices. Any findings, actions or notices that are considered inaccurate or unreasonable, may be challenged and, if required, supporting evidence for the challenge should be provided to the auditor. Any actions or notices, which have been accepted, should be the subject of a corrective action to ensure their timely completion.
Our highly qualified and experienced safety auditors add value to the audit process by sharing evidence based best practice from recent research to keep you continuously improving.