OSHA

How to plan a safety audit

There are certains rules you have to take into account whenever you're scheduling a safety audit. Although you probably know that the audit frequency depends on the risk levels you identify, when it comes to audit planning and conducting, you need to understand that the right steps will help you identify problems before they happen. Let me explain.

Warning: Don't only carry out safety audits when problems have occurred! Conduct them before problems become unmanageable

Here are the types of health and safety audits you'd normally carry out:

  • Procedural (used when implementing new procedures);
  • Problem investigations (investigating health and safety problems or incidents that have occurred or reoccurred in areas of the company);
  • Scheduled audits as per your Audit Plan/Programme;
  • Unannounced audits.
Keep in mind that with correct planning, all elements of health and safety in your workplace can be audited within a reasonable time scale

Important!

You must conduct an audit at least once per annum. Make sure you cover all elements of your Health and Safety System.

When planning, you have to keep in mind who you should choose as your safety auditor. Remember that employees normally carry out health and safety audits, while an external specialist should carry out a Legal Compliance Audit.

Also bear in mind that you need to give your employees time to carry out the audits as part of their daily work activities. You'd normally not remunerate separately for any audit work done.

Keep in mind that there are training courses you can send your employees on where they'll receive a formal auditor qualification.

So here's how to plan when your safety audits should be done:

The planning phase is key to a successful audit. The auditor must familiarise himself with your safetydocuments, e.g. the Health and Safety policy manual, procedures and instructions, registers and completed forms.

He must also consider general health and safety requirements, specifications, standards, incident information (stats), former audit reports and specific information on problem areas.

After studying these documents, the auditor must prepare a checklist for the specific area intended for audit. These can be used as a guideline for the audit. When you compile the checklists, make sure each aspect is understood by the relevant persons. Get agreement on the time schedule for the length of the audit - it shouldn't exceed more than two hours (depending on the size, processes, area, etc.).

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Alexandr Grigorev

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