What is a Safety Audit?
A safety audit is a process of determining if processes in place are effective in making sure that an organization is indeed safe according to applicable industry standards and regulations. Safety audits collect relevant information about the organization’s safety, reliability, efficiency, and effectiveness. During the audit, auditors observe the work environment, equipment, and different processes to assess an organization’s efficiency, safety habits, and more.
Safety audits are different from on-the-spot inspections that companies perform regularly. When conducting a safety audit, the auditor needs to comprehensively review the company, find issues, and propose solutions to the issues, along with different ways to enhance the organization.
A safety audit needs to be thorough. Auditors can’t leave any stone unturned as this can result in issues in the future. Through a safety audit, organizations can identify risks that they may not have caught during regular operations and mitigate the risks to keep the employees safe.
Depending on applicable regulations and industry standards, safety audits may be required for some industries. For others where safety audits are not required, however, they are still a great practice for organizations to help them prevent any incidents. It’s important for organizations to gauge their current safety practices to assess their effectiveness and to identify any other risks that they have yet to address.
When running a business, safety should be a top priority. That said, workplace safety is a dense and, at times, complex undertaking that requires a multi-angle approach. It’s easy to miss certain risks or issues, and a safety audit is designed to thoroughly assess the organization’s safety habits to determine its current state.
The biggest benefit of conducting a safety audit is improving the culture in an organization and establishing good habits in employees. Other reasons organizations may want to conduct a safety audit include:
- Finding risks and hazards early and addressing them right away
- Showing the employees that the company is dedicated to their health and safety
- Ensuring that the organization is complying with relevant safety standards
- Identifying areas wherein the organization can improve their safety habits
- Proposing and facilitating improvements
- Determining whether or not the teams are using safety programs and protocols effectively
Companies can choose to conduct their safety audits internally and build their auditing team. However, it’s generally more effective when organizations hire an independent third-party organization to conduct the audit for them as it saves them time while also ensuring a non-biased audit.
And when the team conducts an audit, the main goal of these audits is to keep the workers out of immediate danger and unnecessary risk. Regardless of the organization’s industry, there are going to be risks and hazards in the workplace that employees may face during operations.
Some risks can be eliminated, while others can only be mitigated. The goal of a safety audit is to determine whether the organization’s safety protocol is effectively accomplishing this goal, whether it’s covering all the risks, and if the employees are following the protocol while on the job.
Safety audits also exist to aid organizations in designing a proper safety program. Since a comprehensive audit will determine all operational and safety risks within an organization, the auditing team can also propose potential solutions and methods to these risks and hazards, which further improves employee safety.
Additionally, certain industries have their own safety requirements that they need to follow during operations. With a safety audit, companies can determine whether or not they are abiding by the appropriate protocols designed to keep employees safe.
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Safety audits can be conducted internally or through a third party. The exact elements and steps in conducting a safety audit may vary depending on the organization, employees, industry, and other factors. However, here are some of the steps that are a part of most, if not all, safety audits.
The first step in conducting a safety audit involves planning. This includes determining the auditing team, the scope of the audit, and which areas of the organization the audit targets. This is a crucial part of the process as it serves as the foundation upon which the rest of the audit is built.
The next step for the team is executing the audit according to their strategy. During this phase, auditors will assess current safety practices and note down any potential risks that may not have been acknowledged before. Executing a safety audit requires the team to strictly follow the plan and make sure they leave no stone unturned. You can use a safety audit checklist to serve as the team’s tool in performing the audit.
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Generating a Report
With the data from their assessments, the team can start building a report. Safety audit reports must be comprehensive and should contain everything that the auditors caught while executing their auditing plan. This includes any violations, risks, and protocol deviations that they find.
Identify Corrective Action
From the report, the auditing team can begin identifying potential solutions and corrective actions to the problems and issues they outlined in their report. This part of the process must include input and attendance of the organization’s managers, as they will later be in charge of implementing the corrective actions.
Once the audit is complete, the final step is publishing the results. It’s crucial that the results of the audit be available to all the employees in the organization.
FAQs about Safety Audits
Safety audit checklists are a set of tasks that auditors need to do, along with areas and tools they need to check when conducting an audit. These checklists are essential to ensure that everyone on the team accomplishes all the tasks necessary for the audit.
Organizations may conduct safety audits internally with their own team. However, safety audits are more effective when conducted by an independent third party.
OSHA generally doesn’t require safety audits within an organization, but certain job types require safety audits to be conducted. OSHA’s stance on safety audits is that they are an effective method of developing a safety plan for the organization’s specific processes and operations.
While they both assess a company’s safety habits, safety audits and safety inspections are not the same. An audit is more in-depth and performed to improve and assess a company’s safety. An inspection is typically done to ensure compliance, which may include checking whether or not the appropriate inspections have been performed.