The health and safety needs of a small or large business can change over time and it is important that audits are carried out on a regular basis. This will ensure the continued welfare, health and safety of employees within an organisation. An audit can offer an independent perspective and will find specific areas in which improvements need to be made for the benefit of a business and its employees, whilst also helping companies to comply with legal duties and promote wellbeing.
What is a health and safety audit?
A health and safety audit is an expert assessment of an organisation’s health and safety policies, systems and procedures in which the findings are then measured against regulated criteria to make sure health and safety standards are being upheld.
What is the purpose?
The purpose is quite simply to improve, learn and implement any change required to make a safer environment in line with current legislation. A well-planned audit programme will enable you to focus on how your organisation manages health and safety, including the key issues and risks. You can then identify those risks that are well managed, and those that could be managed better.
Who conducts the audits?
A competent person should always lead an audit, and ensuring the auditor is independent to the organisation you’re auditing, is good business practice. Therefore a third party qualified auditor is normally used. Auditors should possess a sound understanding of health and safety management systems, theory and standards, and have relevant experience in risk assessment and identifying suitable controls. They need a broad vision of improvement opportunities, including knowledge of best practice and external benchmarks.
How often should you have one?
Under The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), a company’s health and safety policies must be frequently reviewed and assessed. What’s more, all employees must be fully informed of any changes made, with audits usually being conducted annually.
Types of audit
There are three basic types of safety audit. They are management system audit, compliance audit, and a program audit. The most basic type of safety audit is the compliance audit. The compliance audit is done to check whether you have complied with all the applicable safety laws, standards, and other requirements.
The second type of safety audit is a program audit. The safety auditor will check safety program implementations that you have either planned, or is the mandatory program set by the government or other parties.
The third is safety management system audit. This type of safety audit is an overall audit, where the compliance and program will also be conducted at the same time, besides checking the safety management system itself.
Audit documentation refers to the records or documentation of procedures that auditors performed, the audit evidence that they obtained, and the conclusion reached based on the evidence obtained. This final part of the health and safety audit is imperative to ensure the business can reflect on improvements when complying with the ever changing legislation. It is also good business practice and shows an ongoing commitment to the health and safety of staff.
For further information on the importance of health and safety audits and how audits can offer an independent perspective, please contact us here.