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.