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What is the difference between a safety inspection and a safety audit?

By Kristen Hansen | Last updated: July 6, 2017
Presented by Nektar Data Systems

Both a safety inspection and a safety audit aim at making sure that work is being carried out as safely as possible. The difference, however, is what they focus on.

A safety inspection involves a thorough and systematic examination of the physical conditions of a workplace and the character of the practices that take place in it. This will include an examination of all the equipment to determine whether the safeguards are operating effectively and to identify any potential hazards. Safety inspectors also observe workplace practices to ascertain whether any aspect of them are unsafe (find out How to Prepare for a Safety Inspection).

Safety inspections are carried out by someone who is familiar with the workplace and the kind of work performed in it. Its goal is to identify hazards in order to eliminate, guard, or protect against them.


A safety audit, on the other hand, is carried out in order to gauge the effectiveness of an organization's safety inspection processes. It will also analyze the effectiveness of training plans and systems within the organization.

Unlike safety inspections, they are carried out by someone external to the organization. They rely on an outsider's perspective to provide an objective, higher level assessment of the company's safety program (learn more about the benefits of Investing in Safety Audits).

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