Why workplace safety & health audits are important in an organisation
One of the biggest issues facing employers today is the safety and wellbeing of their employees.
Safety & health audits (or a gap analysis) help to rate a business’s safety and health program, identify its strengths and weaknesses, show where improvements are needed and create a process and procedure by which problems can be addressed and corrected.
In addition to assessing potential safety issues and adverse work conditions, audits can also assess senior management’s philosophy, treatment and attitude towards safety.
What is a workplace safety & health audit?
Essentially a workplace safety and health audit is the process of examining a workplace (or a specific area of the workplace) to identify any hazards that may be put employees at risk.
This process can be either be an informal walk around the business or a formal planned inspection.
An audit is a documented method of reviewing a business’ systems of safe work as they are carried out in the workplace, to ascertain whether they comply with legislative requirements, or whether they need to be amended.
Auditing examines each stages in OH&S management system by measuring compliance with the controls the organisation has developed, with the ultimate aim of assessing their effectiveness and their validity for the future.
Do I really need one?
At the fundamental level, the real question is; do you want to ensure your employees come to work, carry out their job duties safely and without incident and return home safe?
If the answer is YES, then you need to conduct regular health and safety audits for your business and/or specific areas of your business.
What type of audits are available?
There are three types of safety audits that can evaluate business practices – these are usually referred to as compliance programs and management system audits
The 3 types of audits that a business can undertake are:
The most basic audit is a compliance or condition inspection. Basically, this requires that employers provide their employees with a place of employment that is free from recognised hazards and complies with certain Workplace, Health and Safety standards.
To achieve a goal of reducing accidents and incidents as well as unsafe acts and conditions which result in accidents, a business must have programs in place that dictate how to implement safety rules or requirements.
An example of a regulatory requirement is to record accidents within a certain time period as well as a process to investigate the accident.
Management Systems Audit
This level is a comprehensive safety audit designed to evaluate and validate the effectiveness of and management’s commitment to safety compliance & programs, employee involvement and risk control procedures.
Management systems audit examines accountability and effectiveness of this implementation and how well the company’s health and safety program is integrated into the overall business culture.
A management systems audit integrates all three audit techniques, document review, interviews and workplace observation in order to make these determinations.
Finally, to make safety programs sustainable, they must be integrated into the company’s existing business practices.
Being able to demonstrate (to relevant investigating authorities, should a serious incident occur in the workplace), that management undertook even basic safety audit compliance steps may have significant effects on any investigation that could be undertaken on the company.
If your business employees people, there is no excuse to not undertake a health and safety on your business particularly if the business has the resources to do so – as a responsible employer, you need to do so.
And if you don’t have resources within the business, then talk to a professional who can provide you with independent advice.
Contact WRM for your health and safety audit advice.
Outsourcing, which started in the early ’90s as a revolutionary phenomenon of sending unskilled work from developed countries to developing countries, has experienced tremendous growth over the past decades.
The biggest change in outsourcing has been that it’s no longer associated with ‘offshoring’, i.e. to outsource a necessary and key business function does not mean sending it to India (for IT support) or Philippines (for call centre management) or China (for manufacturing).
Industry experts, who have been studying the disadvantages and advantages of outsourcing, feel that the future of outsourcing will continue to remain secure mainly due to the benefits that outsourcing brings to the business.
What’s the upside and downside of outsourcing?
First, the upsides of outsourcing include:
Swiftness and Expertise – Most of the times, tasks are outsourced to companies who specialise in their field.
Concentrating on core process rather than the supporting ones – Outsourcing the supporting processes gives the business more time to strengthen their core business process.
Risk-sharing – one of the most crucial factors determining the outcome of an outsource campaign is risk-analysis. Outsourcing certain components of your business process can help the business to shift certain responsibilities to the outsourced vendor.
Reduced Operational and Recruitment costs – Outsourcing overcomes the need to hire individuals in-house; hence recruitment and operational costs can be minimised to a great extent.
On the flip-side, some of the downsides of outsourcing are:
Risk of exposing confidential data – When a business outsources HR, payroll, recruitment services, or any other non-core function, it involves a risk if exposing confidential company information to a third-party.
Synchronizing the deliverables – In case you do not choose a right partner for outsourcing, some of the common problem areas include stretched delivery time frames, sub-standard quality output and inappropriate solutions that may conflict with company culture and values.
Lack of customer focus – An outsourced supplier may be catering to the expertise-needs of multiple businesses at a time – it may depend where you are on the pecking order that determines what level of service you receive.
Regardless though, it’s now widely acknowledged by industry experts and commentators that if a function in your business is regarded as non-core, then outsourcing it is most likely the best business decision.
One area that time and time again comes up is WHS (Workplace Health & Safety).
Everyone expects to go to their place of employment and leave that same place in good health. This is a given.
However, what happens when an employee gets injured?
If you are a large construction or mining operation, then most likely you’ll need in-house WHS resources.
Yet, what about the thousands of small-medium businesses that may not operate in high-risk environments, yet still employ people, who in the course of their duties, may sustain a workplace injury?
Dealing with an injured worker such that she is treated and cared for to allow for a safe and productive return to work is a highly specialised skill.
The State Insurance Regulatory Authority prescribes in detail the requirements of a Return to Work coordinator.
WRM can fill the functions of a Return to Work Co-ordinator for companies that are required to have one by law without the need for having a full-time person on the employee payroll.
Accidents and workplace injuries will happen – the question is how equipped and prepared are you to deal with such a situation?