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Audit in health and safety

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Audit in health and safety is the systematic, objective and critical evaluation of an organization’s health and safety management system. Over time, the health and safety management system fail to fulfil its preventive functionality, leading to greater risks. The occupational health and safety Audit in health and safety allows for checking if the system works, where it is failing and where it can be improved.

Changes in personnel, procedures or the use of new technology are factors that can increase the workers’ exposure to risk. Occupational health and safety Audit in health and safety identifies problems, deficiencies or opportunities for improvement.

The Audit in health and safety weighs the degree of integration of preventive measures in the management of the company, in the changes of equipment, and products, in the maintenance of facilities or equipment and the supervision of dangerous activities, among other aspects.

What is an audit in health and safety?

An audit in health and safety is a mechanism to verify the safety of an organization and that the management system is in place and working effectively. The Compliance Audit carries out a systematic, documented and objective analysis of the Occupational Health and Safety management system, which includes:

  • Verification of how the initial and periodic evaluation of the risks has been carried out, analysis of its results and verification in case of doubt.
  • Verification that the type and planning of preventive activities comply with the provisions of the general regulations, as well as the applicable regulations on specific risks.
  • Analysis of the adequacy between the procedures and means required to carry out the necessary preventive activities and the resources available to the employer.
Audit in health and safety
Audit in health and safety

An Audit in health and safety intends to provide critical feedback on the management system so that appropriate follow-up action can be taken. The audit process will tend to focus on areas of weakness and nonconformity. They focus entirely on weaknesses. However, this is inherent in the purpose of the audit:

  1. Systematic: the Audit in health and safety follows a series of steps and stages that are logical and follow a prepared plan.
  2. Objective: all findings are based on evidence.
  3. Critical – highlights areas of non-compliance or non-conformity.

What is the difference between an audit and an inspection?

AUDIT: An Audit in health and safety focuses on management systems. Examines documents, such as safety policy, arrangements, procedures, risk assessments, job safety analysis etc. Closely examines records, such as those created to verify training, maintenance, inspections, regulatory requirements etc. Verifies the standards that exist within the workplace through interviews and direct observation.

INSPECTION: An inspection is a process of inspecting the workplace to identify hazards and nonconformity. For example, we inspect fire extinguishers in a hot work area to verify their proper location, gauge, damaged body, inspection sticker, hydrostatic validation date, signage etc.

Audit in health and safety
Audit in health and safety

But we can Audit in health and safety of a site’s fire extinguisher management system to verify that:

  • There is an adequate fire extinguisher policy.
  • Annual fire extinguisher maintenance records are complete and up-to-date.
  • Weekly visual inspections of fire extinguishers are being performed and recorded.
  • Training records on fire extinguishers are maintained and are complete and current.
  • Incident reports of any event requiring the use of fire extinguishers are created and maintained.
  • Workers seem to understand how to use fire extinguishers properly.

Most of this information can be collected by looking at documents and records, but some of it has to be collected by talking to people and direct observation in the workplace

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Safety audit standard

Different Audits in health and safety are executed in slightly different ways. What follows is a fairly typical audit process.

Audit in health and safety
Audit in health and safety

Pre-Audit Preparations

Preparations must be made before an Audit in health and safety begins. The employer must check the competence of the Auditor such as:

  • They must have the ability to stand and watch, with good observation skills,
  • They must be able to record what they find and write reports,
  • They must know to whom to report their findings,
  • They should have knowledge of the organization’s process and procedures, for example, they should be familiar with housekeeping standards, PPE rules, and what safe system of work should be in use.
  • They should be able to identify hazards and risks in the workplace.
  • They should have good knowledge of workplace activities.
  • They should be familiar with the control measures in place. So they can identify when these control measures are not being used.

How to prepare an audit 

  • Identify areas to Audit in health and safety
  • Start with a kick-off meeting
  • Carry out field observation and interviews
  • Collect evidence
  • Document the result
  • Report the findings
  • Create an Audit of health and safety action plan
  • Close out meeting

How do you prepare an audit checklist

  • Do organization procedures already meet ISO 9001 requirements?
  • External and internal values: value, culture, knowledge, and performance that affect the ability to achieve the intended result.
  • National and regional issues arising from legal?
  • Are all the issues reviewed and monitored regularly?

Scope of the audit example

Will it cover only health and safety or also environmental management? During an Audit in health and safety, three different types of evidence will be sought: documents and records, interviews, and direct observation.

Audit in health and safety
Audit in health and safety

A department? A complete site? All sites?

Who conducts safety audits?

 The employer carries out periodic Audit in health and safety to check whether the Occupational Health and Safety Management System has been applied and is adequate and effective for the prevention of occupational risks and the safety and health of workers. The audit is carried out by both internal and independent auditors.

Organization members including safety managers can conduct their internal workplace Audit in health and safety or hire a third-party audit professional, or you may choose to hire an outside auditing agency to complete this work, and ensure that the auditor is competent, i.e. has the relevant qualifications, experience and knowledge to do the job well.

Audit in health and safety
Audit in health and safety

If the internal staff is used as auditors, sufficient time and resources should be allocated so that they can be trained. An internal Audit of health and safety is carried out by employees of the organization

Audit in health and safety team: Worker’s representatives, line managers, and health and safety personnel.

What is the auditor do?

Worksite Audits in health and safety are conducted to identify health and safety risks. They also provide an assessment of compliance with current regulations. Auditors use three methods to gather factual information. Three methods are:

  1. Reference to paperwork: the documents and records that indicate what should be happening and what has happened relevant to a particular matter.
  2. Interviews: word-of-mouth evidence provided by managers and workers.
  3. Observation: workplace hazard, materials and equipment, workers’ activities and behaviour.

At times, auditors will seek to collect evidence so that their findings cannot be refuted; this can be done by copying paperwork, taking photographs and having a witness corroborate the evidence by word of mouth. Typical information examined by an auditor are:

  • Health and safety policy.
  • Risk assessments and safe work systems.
  • Training records.
  • Minutes of safety committee meetings.
  • Records of maintenance and details of faults.
  • Records of health and safety monitoring activities (eg walkthroughs, inspections, surveys).
  • Accident investigation reports and data, including near-miss information.
  • Emergency arrangements.
  • Inspection reports from insurance companies.
  • Results of regulator visits (eg, visit reports, compliance measures).
  • Records of worker complaints.

What is the purpose of a workplace audit?

An Audit in health and safety of an occupational health and safety management system ISO 45001:2018 standard is an international standard with structural requirements aimed at the prevention and mitigation of occupational incidents.

Audit for health and safety purposes guarantees safe working conditions, and the identification, analysis and taking of actions about the dangers to which the workers are exposed as a result of the activities they carry out.

Implementing this standard brings advantages such as a reduction in work accidents, an increase in productivity, a reduction in work absenteeism and the staff turnover rate, among other points.

ISO 45001:2018 standard points out that carrying out an Audit of health and safety of an occupational health and safety management system allows the following objectives to be achieved:

  • Systematically examine compliance with measures to protect workers.
  • Determine if the activities and results meet the proposed requirements.
  • Apply actions that allow correcting existing non-conformities or breaches.
  • Detect the points where there are deficiencies and continuously improve.
  • Comply with the legal requirement for the implementation of a management system and its evaluation at planned intervals.

What 4 areas are included in a safety audit?

The audits allow the company’s management to ensure that the global strategy of the Occupational Health and Safety Management System achieves the intended purposes and determine, if applicable, changes in the policy and objectives of the system. Most audits can be divided into 4 areas:

  1. Knowledge of employees: The level of knowledge required depends on the specific activities in which the employee is involved and the specific duties and responsibilities. Employees must have a high level of job knowledge that includes hazard identification and hazard control procedures. Determining the knowledge level of employees can be accomplished through written tests, formal interviews, or informal questions in the workplace.

2. Records and Documents Review: Missing or incomplete documents or records are a good indication that a program is not working as designed. Records are the company’s only means of demonstrating that specific regulatory requirements have been met. The record review also includes a look at the results, recommendations, and corrective actions from the last program Audit in health and safety.

  • Is there an assigned and trained personnel to manage the program?
  • Are specific duties and responsibilities assigned?
  • Are enough assets provided?
  • Is there an effective and ongoing employee training program?

3. Equipment and Material: This area of a safety audit inspects the condition of the material and the applicability of the equipment to control hazards in a specific program. Examples of Audit in health and safety questions for this area are:

  • Is the equipment in safe condition?
  • Is there adequate equipment to perform tasks safely?
  • Is personal protective equipment properly used and stored?
  • Is equipment such as exit lights, emergency lighting, fire extinguishers, storage and material handling equipment designed and prepared to control hazards effectively?

4. Walk-through of the area: While safety audits are not designed to be comprehensive physical inspections of wall-to-wall facilities, a walk-through of work areas can provide additional information about the effectiveness of safety programs. Auditors must take written notes of unsafe conditions and unsafe acts observed during the walkthrough.

How to conduct a safety audit

Safety audits are primarily to verify the effectiveness of the various programs, they are not a substitute for regular workplace inspections. Workplace safety inspections for hazards and their control should be performed at least weekly by supervisors and monthly by management.

Phase One – Safety Audit Preparation

Step One: A week before the Audit in health and safety, inform all managers and supervisors who will be audited. They should be instructed to have all records, documents, and procedures available when audits begin.

Step Two: Review all past program area audits and corrective action recommendations.

Step Three: Review all company, local, industry, and national requirements for the specific program. Familiarize yourself with documentation, inspection, and training requirements.

Step Four: Determine the scope of the Audit in health and safety. This may be based on accident and inspection reports and feedback from various managers. Set a start and stop date and time for the audit.

Phase Two – Finding Facts

Collection of information: It is common practice for auditors to request copies of relevant documentation before starting the Audit in health and safety so they can prepare. During an audit, three different types of evidence will be sought: documents and records, interviews, and direct evidence. An Audit in health and safety is used to collect all applicable information.

Carryout document review
  • Health and safety policy
  • Risk assessment and safe system of work
  • Training records
  • Minutes of safety committee meetings
  • Records of health and safety monitoring activities
  • Accident investigation report and data including near miss
  • Emergency arrangement
  • Inspection reports from insurance companies
  • Records of workers’ complaints
Meeting with workers

During meeting with worker, ask some questions such as:

Their training, PPE, tools, compliance of risk assessment, compliance of permit to work system, hazards of work and height, confined space, etc. and their control measure.

Gather information
  • Sickness absence data
  • Accident and ill health reporting procedures
  • Compensation claims
  • Discuss with workers and workers’ representatives
  • Observations of the workplace, activities, and behaviours
  • Interviews of managers and workers
  • Documentation relating to the system e.g., policies, procedures, records, reports
Visit the site and assess the risk

Physical examination of the workplace, equipment or activities are undertaken e.g., example poor housekeeping, spillage, all necessary guards in place, use of PPE, fire exits are clear etc., to identify hazards or conditions and decide whether they are satisfactorily controlled.

Phase Three – Review of Safety Audit Findings

After all documents, written programs, procedures, work practices, and equipment have been inspected, gather findings to formulate a concise report detailing all areas of the program. Each program requirement must be addressed with deficiencies noted. Include comments of a positive nature for each item that is being handled effectively.

Phase Four – Safety Audit Recommendations

Develop recommendations for each deficient program condition. Careful foresight must be applied to ensure that this is not a process that simply makes more rules and additional record-keeping requirements. Examine the failing items where there is a simpler procedure that can be applied.

Phase Five – Safety Audit Corrective Actions

The development of corrective actions must involve the managers and the supervisor, who must execute the corrections. Set priorities based on the level of danger. All corrective actions must be assigned a completion and review date. Records of corrective actions completed should be reviewed through the normal management chain and then archived for use during the next Audit in health and safety.

Phase Six – Publish Safety Audit Results

All supervisors and managers must know the basic conclusions and recommendations. Don’t forget to recognize those departments, managers, and supervisors that are properly executing their responsibilities. After a few audits, everyone will want to show themselves on the positive side of the results.

Close-out meeting

Once the draft of the report is approved, the findings of the Audit in health and safety will be then communicated back to the organization’s senior management in the close-out meeting. They will contain information on:

  • The scope and objective of the Audit in health and safety
  • The activities that took place during the Audit in health and safety
  • Findings of the Audit in health and safety along with evidence
  • Details of any non-conformances and areas of potential improvement
  • Recommendations on corrective and improvement actions
Conclusion

An Audit in health and safety must be followed by action to correct non-conformities. These corrective actions usually are verified during the next audit. In some audit systems, this will be done through an interim follow-up visit or audit that simply looks at how previous audit recommendations have been addressed

 

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