Often confused with a safety inspection which are used for the identification of safety hazards, safety audits are evaluations of programs, training, and practices in a company that work to minimize or eliminate those hazards. Employers who conduct these audits should consider the following:
- Look to see if the safety program meets company goals.
- Does the new or existing program cover all best practices/regulatory industry requirements?
- Record and measure information about the reliability and effectiveness of safety programs and practices. This includes having physical documents like the OSHA Audit Tool.
- Examine the training that is involved with safety procedures/emergency response
The people who complete these audits are not able to perform them on their own departments, they can even be outside of the company. Oftentimes, companies hire out a team of 3-5 auditors whose purpose is to find these hidden problem areas. An outside opinion is needed because issues can more easily be spotted by someone with fresh eyes rather than an employee who sees a program or protocol in action consistently.
Many people ask how many audits they should do annually. This question is not about how many, but about how efficient and thorough the audit team is when eliminating issues within the workplace. A good thing to note is that one yearly audit is not recommended as things can be missed due to the volume of potential changes to comply with OSHA standards. Instead, a good way to go about safety audits is to schedule several specific audits over the course of the year and leave one month reserved for a compilation of all the work completed. This way, nothing is missed and there aren’t countless new measures and programs changed all at once for people to inevitably make mistakes on.