The Best Compliance Audit Checklists

Comply with government regulations and industry standards using digital checklists, templates, and forms that you can download for free.


What is a Compliance Audit?

A compliance audit is a systematic review of an organization’s adherence to predefined benchmarks set by a governing body. Compliance audits are performed by an auditing team to help the organization standardize processes, identify organizational gaps, and mitigate risks. The compliance audit report can then be used as a guide to solving problems of non-conformance from employees, teams, or other stakeholders.

Types of Compliance Audits

Because a variety of regulatory compliance audits are applicable to organizations, it is critical that business leaders and compliance managers are knowledgeable about what they are and what they all entail. Below are three of the most common compliance audits that are usually observed in businesses:

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)

HIPAA compliance is a type of compliance that covers the sectors involved with healthcare services, health insurers, or any healthcare provider that transmits patient information. HIPAA audits help protect health information and ensure privacy security as a way to prevent healthcare fraud.

ISO (International Organization for Standardization)

ISO compliance is when organizations adhere to the requirements of globally-accepted standards or industry best practices to meet ISO benchmarks. This can include ISO 9000, ISO 45001, ISO 37301, or ISO 31000, among others.

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)

GDPR compliance is businesses’ adherence to European Union’s data privacy and security law. It’s mainly composed of a four-step process: planning, gap analysis, the remediation of gaps, and assessment of new processes that were put in place. GDPR compliance audit promotes better data security, which in turn, increases customer trust.

Why Perform Compliance Audits?

Compliance audits are essential for businesses to ensure that they meet legal requirements or that they are working towards getting aligned with set parameters. Regular compliance audits help organizations achieve the following:

  1. Ensure a safe working environment – comply with government requirements and safety protocols intended to promote a secure and stress-free workspace
  2. Increase productivity – manage production downtime and boost profitability
  3. Prevent penalties – stay compliant with legal standards to avoid any legal issues and consequences
  4. Establish a good reputation – gain public trust and dominate the industry you belong to by staying aligned with industry protocols
  5. Continuous operation – non-compliance with regulations can lead to disruption or even operation cessation

What is a Compliance Audit Checklist?

A compliance audit checklist is a tool used by external and internal auditors to determine the organization’s compliance with government regulations, industry standards, or internal policies. It typically includes sections that would best cater to the compliance procedures being observed such as workplace safety, environmental adherence, and manufacturing best practices, among others. Compliance audit checklists help discover gaps in processes that can be improved in order to meet requirements.

Compliance Audit Steps

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to execute a compliance audit:

  1. Decide on who will conduct the audit – Appoint someone in your organization to perform the audit—it may be a compliance manager, compliance officer, or someone from a third-party vendor. Establishing this from the start helps ensure a smooth compliance audit process.
  2. Identify your goals before starting the audit – Specify what you want to address. If there are previous compliance audits of the same process, note if there are significant results to be mentioned and use this as a guide when creating the audit plans.
  3. Collaborate with relevant stakeholders – Meet with relevant leaders and other stakeholders prior to performing the audit. Regulate the audit by stating its scope, limitations, and guidelines. This step is to ensure that the auditing process is standardized, progressive, and efficient.
  4. Analyze existing processes – Evaluate the current practices of employees and examine the company’s internal controls concerning adherence to various industry standards or best practices. Locate if there are gaps to be addressed or procedures that aren’t in conformance with regulatory requirements.
  5. Rank and prioritize risks – Assess the levels of recognized risks and determine your company’s appetite for each. From there, prioritize those that would significantly impact your organization if not addressed properly, then gradually work on the remaining ones until each one is managed.
  6. Implement process changes – Push through with the implementation of the identified needs for change. Continuously monitor them to ensure that they are being observed across the organization, in certain business units, or by a specific set of employees.
Jona Tarlengco
Article by
Jona Tarlengco
Jona Tarlengco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. She usually writes about safety and quality topics, contributing to the creation of well-researched articles. Her years of experience in one of the world’s leading business news organisations helps enrich the quality of the information in her work.

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Legal Compliance Audit Checklist
A legal compliance checklist is used to determine if an organization has met all regulatory requirements in order to legally operate and avoid litigation. This audit checklist for legal compliance was digitized using SafetyCulture. Download and use to assess if an organization is operating in accordance with applicable laws. All SafetyCulture templates can be edited to fit your organization’s compliance needs.
Comprehensive OSHA Compliance Audit Checklist
OSHA compliance audit checklist is a comprehensive assessment of the regulatory safety standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This checklist contains 43 sections covering a wide range of hazard identification procedures in the workplace. The template has been built to guide the inspector in performing the following: Identify non-compliance on employee practices Capture photo evidence or take note of irregularities in the process being done Assign action plans to appropriate team member Document observations and provide clear recommendations Complete audit with a digital signature and timestamp to validate the inspection
OSHA Housekeeping Compliance Audit Checklist
OSHA housekeeping compliance audit checklist is used to inspect if housekeeping activities adhere with OSHA standards. Facilities team can use this as a guide to do the following: Evaluate if walkways, working surfaces, lighting, storage, and sanitation facilities are clean and regularly maintained Capture photo evidence of damage or defective materials Appoint corrective actions to a specific person in charge Provide recommendation and overall cleaning assessment End inspection by providing a digital signature to validate your audit
Management Compliance Audit Checklist
A management compliance audit checklist is used to analyze the effectiveness of the management systems of the organization. It helps to ensure processes are effectively addressing the objectives and goals of the business. This template can be used by compliance teams or audit managers to record and report any act of non-conformances or irregularities in the processes.
HSE Management Template
An HSE management template is used to evaluate how organizations and businesses manage health and safety in their workspace. It is divided into 2 sections – HSE Management and HSE Performance Monitoring – and each entails an evaluation of HSE management protocols. Authorized personnel should list all people involved in the evaluation and provide an overall rating of the HSE management.
GDP Compliance Audit Checklist
GDP compliance audit checklist is used to assess compliance with EU Good Distribution Practice guidelines. This checklist is divided into 7 sections which cover questions across the areas of quality systems, personnel, premises & equipment, documentation, supplier operations, complaints & recalls, and transportation. Use this as a guide to do the following: Conduct an audit of your facilities, systems, and practices Evaluate each item (Pass, Fail or N/A) if it complies with regulatory standards Identify frequently failing items, capture photo evidence and take notes of non-compliance Calculate overall GDP compliance score across sections Capture digital signature to validate the audit
GMP Compliance Audit Checklist
A Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) compliance checklist is used to evaluate overall adherence to manufacturing protocols. This checklist is divided into 9 sections and applies scoring which will give insight into how audits are performing over time. This checklist helps to assess if your workers receive adequate training and comply with regulations when performing their tasks.
Operational Audit Checklist Template
An operational audit checklist is used to review and assess business processes. It helps evaluate the business operation if it complies with regulatory requirements. This operational audit checklist is primarily used on mainline aircraft. This aids inspection if safety protocols and guidelines are followed at the pre-arrival staging, marshaling to gate, aircraft at the gate, pre-departure, and pushback.