Q&A Session – Richard O Donoghue: What is a Safety Audit?

Richard O Donoghue – LCE Safety Consultant & Trainer answers your work related health and safety queries as part of our monthly Q&A session.

What is a Safety Audit?”

Richard O Donoghue:

An audit is a way of evaluating whether regulations, processes or rules are being followed, or even to determine whether certain clauses of ISO 45001 Occupational Safety and Health standards are being maintained.

The purpose of an audit is to identify unsafe conditions, behaviour and equipment and recommend necessary corrective and preventative actions for improvements and to prevent injury or property damage. It is an audit that focuses on some or all aspects of health and safety.

The goal of a safety audit is to assist in the continuous improvement of your company’s OHS procedures. The audit should:

  • identify the risks and the levels of those risks within the workplace;
  • identify strengths and weaknesses in your safety procedures;
  • assess whether your safety procedures are legally compliant;
  • compare current documentation and practices against best practice and legal obligations;
  • recommend improvements in your safety procedures;
  • ensure that there are adequate resources available to manage OHS; and
  • ensure that the resources devoted to health and safety are being utilised effectively.

What does a health and safety audit involve?

An audit may be carried out by an external body or internally by various departments.  In addition, audits can focus on the following areas:

Safety Management System (SMS) – During the safety audit, a comprehensive review of the SMS should be conducted. This review should compare the organisation SMS against what is currently happening within the organisation.

Administration – This part of the safety audit review, checks the implementation and management of specific program requirements. This section asks these and other similar questions:

  • Is there a person assigned and trained to manage the program?
  • Are specific duties and responsibilities assigned?
  • Are sufficient resources provided?
  • Is there an effective and on-going employee training program?

Record & Document Review – Missing or incomplete documents or records is a good indication that a program, that is not working as designed. Records are the company’s only means of proving that specific regulatory requirements have been met. Record review also includes a look at the results, recommendations and corrective actions from the last program audit.

Equipment and Material – This area of a safety audit inspects the material condition and applicability of the equipment for hazard control in a specific program. Examples of audit questions for this area are:

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

General Area Walk-Through – While safety audits are not designed to be comprehensive physical wall-to-wall facility inspections, a general walk-though of work areas can provide additional insight into the effectiveness of safety programs. Auditors should take written notes of unsafe conditions and unsafe acts observed during the walk-through.

LCE can assist you with all your auditing requirements whether you require a once off site or plant audit or a regular audit program. Maybe you are considering accreditation to international standards ISO 45001.  Our experienced consultants are on hand to assist you with all your requirements.