What Does Safety Audit Mean?
A safety audit is a process that is considered the gold standard for evaluating the effectiveness of occupational health and safety programs. Their primary purpose is to identify health and safety hazards, assess the effectiveness of the measures in place to control those hazards, and ensure compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration's (OSHA) standards.
Safety audits are conducted by independent audit consultants in order to ensure an unbiased review of policies, procedures, and safety management systems.
Safeopedia Explains Safety Audit
A safety audit can involve a walkthrough of the facility, interviews with management and employees, and a review of the company's documentation and collected data.
Safety audits serve two broad purposes:
- Ensuring compliance with safety legislation - these are routinely conducted and can be carried out externally (by representatives or a regulatory body) or internally (by a team drawn from the company's staff)
- Identifying weaknesses in a company's safety program - these audits serve as a guide to optimize a company's safety management system and identify corrective actions that should be undertaken
The broad objectives of a safety audit are to:
- Maintain a safe workplace by identifying hazards and implementing adequate controls for them
- Verify that employees are following the measures set out by the company's safety program
- Ensure that the facility, equipment, and operations meet safety requirements and industry best practices
- Determine whether the company's record-keeping is adequate
Safety audits are more thorough than technical inspections and spot-checks. Audits look beyond the activity taking place on a typical workday and also evaluate the company's safety training and onboarding process.
Benefits of Safety Audits
- Providing an ongoing review of systems to ensure that they continue to be followed
- Facilitating planned improvements to programs, policies, and procedures
- Identifying weaknesses in human resources departments
- Demonstrating management’s dedication to employee health and safety
Steps to Conducting an Effective Safety Audit
A safety audit is a rigorous process that can be broken down into the following steps.
- Planning the Audit: The key components of an audit plan are the audit team, the scope of the uadit, and the targeted areas in the workplace or jobsite.
- Executing the Audit: This step involves carrying out the audit in accordance to the plan. Any variation from established safety procedures is noted and actual work conditions are observed.
- Compiling the Report: The audit team compiles a report outlining the findings of the audit, including any regulatory violations, deviations from industry best practices, and safety procedures that are not properly followed.
- Corrective Actions: Based on their findings, the audit team identifies corrective actions that should be taken. This step should involve the company's managers and supervisors, since they are the ones who will be required to carry out these corrective actions. To ensure that they are followed, the corrective actions are assigned a completion and review date.
- Publishing the Results of the Audit: The results of the audit should then be made available to all employees of the company.