The Importance of Conducting a Safety Audit

HR Resource
September 26, 2012 — 4,702 views  
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Organizations conduct safety audits to comply with laws or regulations and to provide a safe workplace for everyone. A safety audit identifies different levels of risk in each work area of an organization. An audit's findings can also include how an organization can remediate potential threats to employees and visitors. When an organization follows through on the findings of a safety audit, the workplace will be safer, and there will be a reduced likelihood of worker injury, illness, and death. 

A systematic approach is a vital ingredient for a safety audit. Including the following components will make a safety audit more effective: 

1. Research safety conditions that should exist in each work area. Look up appropriate laws and rules of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, state and local governments, and accreditation boards. 

2. Create an audit checklist. Include minimum safety standards for each work area and possible safety issues. If an organization has a safety management system, it may be possible to print a safety audit form for each program area. Extensive research helps an auditor to refine his audit checklist. 

3. Conduct a preliminary inspection of all work areas. Use additional paper, if needed, to note unsafe conditions, including surfaces and equipment that need maintenance, repair, or replacement and areas where employees need better personal protective equipment. An organization can consult with experts to address safety issues that are outside the range of experience of the management team. 

4. Inspect safety records of each program area. Read all safety policies and procedures, safety meeting agendas, Material Safety Data Sheets, previous inspection reports, and reports of accidents and injuries. A well-designed audit demonstrates how an organization has performed since the most recent inspection. 

5. Conduct a formal inspection by visiting all work areas again. If a work area is not compliant with an item on the checklist, it's important to record that finding. An auditor must also ask questions of on-duty managers and workers to ensure that enough information is collected to prepare a complete report. 

6. Prepare an official version of the formal inspection that summarizes the audit's findings. A summary includes comments addressing the changes that management has taken to increase safety since the most recent audit. 

7. Provide a copy of the audit to management. Program managers need the auditor's contact information if they have questions about how to correct problems summarized in your report.

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