What are health and safety audits and why should I do them?
Health and safety audits define compliance with health and safety legislation as well as determining if your work activities relate to your planned arrangements (such as how you manage hazardous substances) and whether they are being implemented effectively to achieve your policy objectives. It can help you manage safety more effectively and should be performed at least annually to ensure that your management system is being followed.
Whoa, hold on, planned arrangements? Policy objectives? What are these?
Okay, so under the Health and Safety at Work Act (which we have discussed before) you must write a general policy for the management of health and safety in the workplace and the arrangements to carry out that policy statement, not forgetting to bring it to the attention of your employees. The policy is basically a series of objectives on managing safety and the arrangements are how those objectives will be achieved. Therefore, it is paramount that this information is specific to your organisation.
Okay, so can you look through my policy statement?
Yes of course, but it needs to link to your whole management safety system and implemented throughout the organisation.
The audit sounds like it could present loads of issues!
The purpose is to look at your management system within your audit in a positive light, to seek continuous improvement, highlight company successes and praise staff for excelling in their jobs. So, we don’t want to see these as ‘loads of issues’ in your words, but improving the safety of the workplace.
Your audit should contain at least three main elements; firstly, your documentation (policies, process procedures), secondly, interview your managers, heads of departments and finally provide the evidence to back up the interviews, speak with those on the ‘shop floor’ to find out if the actual processes are being carried out.
Ask yourself – can I see some evidence?
Where you find discrepancies, these need reporting to enable you to improve, implement the new process/idea or inform the management that inadequate practice is going on. Whatever the results of your audit you will have actions, some positive some not so. Here is a small selection;
- Further training, information, instruction, briefings etc. for employees/managers
- Change of process to a new better method
- New hazards presented requiring risk assessing
- Communication barriers that need to be broken down
- Issues that need resolving
- Investigate incidents (whether major, minor or near misses)
- On the other side, where your system is being used effectively, it presents a great opportunity to praise the employees, implement a bonus or other incentive scheme.
So, remember: Safe working = legislative compliance + following policy and processes
‘You can’t say you’ve learnt archery, until you know WHY you have hit the target.’
Here at Qdos, we can perform your site audits and provide advice on how you can complete these moving forwards. Please feel free to contact us on 01455 852022 for more information. Have you taken a HS Health Check yet?