Health and Safety Audit
You think that you’ve done everything you need to take care of health and safety in your workplace, but how can you make sure that you haven’t missed something? This is when a thorough and expert health and safety audit will help you confirm that you are on top of things, or catch any loose ends or oversights that you need to deal with.
This post will help you to understand why a health and safety audit is important, what an audit involves, and how you can make arrangements for your organization to be audited.
Why bother with a health and safety audit?
You might be wondering what the point is, since health and safety audits are not a legal obligation. Think of it as the key to your best health and safety practice. You want to protect the people you work with, and safeguard your organization from incidents, complaints, and prosecution, not to mention the administrative hassle, loss of business, and the blow to your reputation that could result from any issues.
If you want to nip any health and safety issues in the bud before they become a major legal, financial, and administrative problem, a health and safety audit is the best way to stay on top of things. Workplace injuries are often caused by preventable issues that could have been detected in an audit. A well-conducted audit will identify snags in your health and safety procedures and highlight breaches that could be prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
No, you don’t have to do an audit, but it is highly recommended! A stitch in time saves nine, as they say, and an audit will not only prevent accidents, but also save you work, money, and reputation.
What is a health and safety audit?
If you want to check that you are doing the best job in protecting the health, safety, and well-being of the people you work with, it’s a good idea to have a clear audit plan. A good audit will look at the efficiency, effectiveness, and reliability of the health and safety processes that you want to check, check your compliance with the relevant laws and regulations, and help you figure out what you need to improve to minimise risk in your workplace.
You can expect a good health and safety audit to do the following:
- Check health and safety documentation, including policies and procedural documents
- Conduct interviews with managers, heads of department, and personnel
- Assess work processes and systems, and identify risks and hazards
- Identify strengths and weaknesses in health and safety measures and resources
- Check adherence to relevant health and safety policies and laws
- Remove hazards and stop unsafe practices
- Assess performance review systems, including risk assessment procedures
- Identify areas for improvement
- Suggest plans for corrective action
As an employer, you have a duty of care to protect the health and safety of your workplace. An expert audit will help you to monitor, maintain, and review your health and safety procedures. Working practices and legislation, can change over time, so make sure you are up to date, and show that you are responsive and proactive in taking care of the wellbeing of the people you work with.
How to arrange a health and safety audit
You will want to set up a well-planned audit procedure to help you manage your approach to workplace health and safety. It will pay to have a clear idea of the purpose and nature of an audit, so you can make sure you get the help you need.
You should consider the following questions when planning your audit:
- Who will carry out the audit? - You can choose to have an internal or external auditor. An internal audit might cost less and be easier to manage within your company, but a professional external audit will provide an ‘independent assessment’, resulting in a better level of scrutiny and detection of issues. Either way, you must appoint a competent person with appropriate training, experience, and knowledge, who is independent of the activity being audited.
- What will the audit cover? - You might want to focus on high risk areas of your organization, review past issues, or get a more general overview of your health and safety practice. Set clear objectives, a realistic scope, and establish audit criteria based on in-house policies, legal or contractual requirements.
- How will the audit be conducted? - You might seek specialist guidance by phone or in person. An auditor might make a site visit, check premises, practices, policies and documentation. They may use interviews, checklists, or questionnaires, and need to gather information and obtain evidence. Make sure you identify any resources that might be required to conduct an audit.
- How long does an audit take? - This depends on the scale of the audit, of course. Make sure that you work out a realistic time frame and schedule for your audit. You might want to focus on specific issues, if necessary, to make things more manageable.
- What is the outcome of an audit? - Your auditor should have a clear reporting system in place to break down their findings. They will outline their observations and recommendations for further action. They might also help you setting up a risk assessment procedure, or help create your health and safety policy. A good auditor will offer praise as well as guidance, so you should also get feedback on any positive findings, too!
As with most things, communication is key. Make sure that you let your auditor know why you want an audit, and cooperate with them to help it run smoothly. You will feel reassured to be in expert hands, which will help you achieve flawless health and safety in your workplace!
You will thank yourself for going the extra mile in your health and safety efforts. Getting audited is the best way to ensure that issues are caughts and addressed in good time, so you prevent accidents and protect the wellbeing of your workforce. It will protect people from danger, and also protect your orgnanization from legal action and financial loss. It won’t do any harm to your reputation, either. It looks good for an employer to take voluntary action to make sure the people on the ground are safe and happy, and your employees will appreciate knowing that you care!
Do you think a health and safety audit will help your business? Leave a comment below if you have any questions!