A safety audit is a general term used to describe an activity where a facility gathers information about one or more aspects of the workplace in order to evaluate the risk levels for health or safety issues. During this audit one or more people will gather data related to the efficiency, reliability, and effectiveness of their health and safety systems.
When done properly, a safety audit will help to determine if a company’s day to day activities are in conformity with their safety efforts. This means that a safety audit is typically only going to be done after a safety plan for the facility is already in place. A safety audit can, however, be used as part of the process in the creation of a full safety plan for a facility.
Why are Safety Audits Done?
Safety audits are performed for a variety of reasons. Each company will have their own specific list of reasons for completing a safety audit. The following are just a few of the most common reasons given:
- Legislative Requirements – There are many local, state, and federal laws in place that require facilities meet certain safety standards. A safety audit can help to ensure those standards are met.
- Safety Concern – Keeping employees and the workplace safe is ethically very important.
- Injuries – If someone has been injured in a specific area of the workplace, it is often necessary to perform a safety audit of that area to determine whether the injury was a onetime occurrence, or there is a risk of it happening to someone else.
- Bottom Line – While safety improvement in the workplace is often looked at as an expenditure, in the long run it can positively improve the bottom line of a company.
- Safety Culture – Employers that want to promote a safety focused culture need to set the tone by engaging in safety related activities such as a safety audit.
Performing a Safety Audit
When planning a safety audit, it is important to follow a set process. Start by forming a safety audit team, or teams. Some companies choose to hire outside consultants to perform the audit, which can be very effective. If using existing employees, make sure to make teams that include 3-5 people, and always ensure that employees do not inspect their own work environment.
Those on the safety audit teams should be trained on the current safety standards so they know what to look for. In addition, knowledge of laws, OSHA regulations, and any other standards that may apply can be helpful in identifying potential safety concerns.
When ready, the safety audit teams need to look at any incident reports for the area they are auditing. These reports can give key insight into where potential problem areas exist. They can then go to the physical location of the area being audited, and watch work being done. Asking questions of the employees in that work in the area, and getting as much information as possible.
Finally, taking all the information and analyzing it for potential safety concerns. Some safety issues will be quite obvious, but others may be hidden in the data. Once the audit is completed, either the same audit team, or another team, should begin making plans on what can be changed in the facility to improve safety based on the information that was gathered during the audit.