5 Important Steps to an Effective Safety Audit

team performing safety audit

An effective Safety audit is one that has be proven to ensure that the business has a safety program in place to reduce incidents and mitigate safety risk to their workers.

Most importantly, “in place” means policies and procedures that have been tested, trained, and demonstrated in practice, as evidenced by the audit program.

This article will give you a summary outline of safety audit procedures. A valuable comprehensive resource towards the implementation of your safety audit plan is the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) safety and management guide. The 5-step safety audit steps below outline provide a management summary and structured approach towards the development of an effective safety audit.

Step #1: Audit Planning

worker in safety vest at job siteA safety audit is a form of test, and therefore, a test plan needs to be established prior to test execution.

The key components of an Audit Plan are the basic documentation of the: “who, what and where.”

  • The “Who” refers to the audit team, that may be external consultant type with specific expertise in safety or diversified cross-functional internal team that has been trained on “what” to do
  • The “What” refers to audit scope to include the documented tasks, checklists other evaluation guides to complete a successful audit
  • The “Where” can include the designation of targeted areas of the workplace, as necessary

The planning step is the key to the entire process, since the audit plan defines the procedures and sets the safety test baseline.

Step #2: Audit Execution

With a trained team identified, scope and baseline documentation defined, the next step is to conduct the audit as planned.

The baseline documentation is used to effectively compare written procedures to activity in the workplace. Variation from established safety procedures are documented, along with observations of the actual work conditions, and any important input from the workers involved.

The audit execution should go beyond just “checking the checklist”, with a pass/fail approach. The tone should be set to inform everyone involved that safety audits are a tool to track progress towards specific safety objectives and also used to gather input from workforce as part of a continuous process improvement effort.

Step #3: Compile the Audit Report

safety leader conducting safety auditAfter conducting the audit, the audit team will integrate test results and information into a concise audit report.

Part of the team’s training is to ensure a well-documented report that details any variances to the audit baseline, important audit findings and describe things that are working well in addition to any problem areas.

Problem areas or negative finding are addressed in the recommended actions section of the audit report to start the process improvement efforts needed.

Step #4: Set Corrective Action Plans and Process Improvements in Motion

The audit execution and report go beyond a simple pass/fail approach.

The findings should contribute to the continuous process improvement effort towards optimal workplace safety. Audit findings may identify significant corrective actions that need to be immediately set in place for worker safety, but most often baseline variations and input from workforce are addressed as part of continual improvement activity.

Process improvement follow-up would include prioritizing tasks, with assignments and suspense dates.

Step #5: Communicate Results

assessing site during safety auditAn effective workplace safety audit is essential to business continuity, employee protections and morale, along with the requirement to demonstrates compliance with all guidelines.

It is important that all employees have a transparent understanding of the audit, and their safety status. Workers have been trained in safety procedures and adherence to those procedures is essential in reducing workplace incident.

The proper communication of audit results creates an awareness of the company’s safety efforts and the collaborative safety results achieved by supervisors and line employees.

The published audit results affirm that the company has invested in an effective safety program to reduce incidents and mitigate safety risk to their workers.

How Advanced Consulting & Training Can Help

As a leader in safety training & consulting in Ontario, we’ve helped countless companies, organizations and work sites with their safety audits over the years. From preparing the framework for a new safety audit to updating the existing safety audit process, you can count on our expertise in safety audits.

Contact us today to find out more about how we can help your organization be a leader in safety.

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