for in-depth review of workplace safety program management and operation.
Safety Audits examine management, employee knowledge, program
responsibilities, records & effectiveness.
It is recommended that a
team be established to conduct safety audit. Each team should be comprised
of at least three to five people representing a variety of departments. To
ensure neutrality and objectivity, it is suggested that team members
should not audit their own department. Audits may also be conducted by
qualified consultants. Audit Team members should review all existing
safety program material in advance of the safety audit
Safety Audits are
conducted for the purpose of
health, safety, and fire hazard
identification. During these surveys, assessments are made for
compliance to applicable regulations and fire codes as well as the
detection of unsafe hazards.
Audits also provide an
evaluation of workplace compliance to Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) standards relating workplace and worker safety.
Work Site Safety Audits
Audits of work sites are
conducted for the purpose of health, safety, and fire hazard identification.
During these surveys, assessments are made for compliance to applicable
building and fire codes and the detection of unsafe hazards.
Work site audits also provide an evaluation of compliance to Occupational
Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards relating to ergonomics,
respirator use, hearing conservation, blood-borne pathogens and use of
personal protective equipment. Ergonomics, the study of work and the
relationships of carious stressors on the individual, can be identified
through the building audits. The objective of ergonomics is to adapt the job
and workplace to the worker by designing tasks, workstations, tools, and
equipment to the abilities of the worker. Conducting a single
annual comprehensive safety audit can actually hide the
facts and hazards that you may want to discover. The single
annual audit approach may tend to create a safety "ramp
up" effect, by managers and supervisors, as the audit
A better approach
may be to schedule various specific safety audits throughout the
year on a ten month schedule. The eleventh month should be
reserved for a comprehensive annual audit. Consider using
the same topic schedule for your annual refresher training
audits are not
Safety Audits are
primarily to check the effectiveness of the various
programs, they do not take the place of regular facility
inspections. Facility safety inspections for hazards and
their control should be performed on a weekly basis by
supervisors and on a monthly basis by management.
The big four
There are four
basic questions a safety audit should answer. The persons or team
designated to conduct the audits should take a fact finding
approach to gather data. These auditors should be familiar
with both the company program and the various local, state
and federal requirements.
All safety audit comments,
recommendations and corrective actions should focus on these
1. Does the program
cover all regulatory and best industry practice
2. Are the program
requirements being met?
3. Is there
documented proof of compliance?
4. Is employee
training effective – can and do they apply specific safe
Step One - one week prior to the
audit, inform all affected managers and supervisors. They
should be directed to have all records, documents and
procedures available when the audits starts.
Step Two - Review all past program
area audits and corrective action recommendations.
Step Three - Review all company,
local, state and federal requirements for the specific
program. Become familiar with the document, inspection and
Step Four - Determine the scope of
the audit. This can be based on accident and inspection
reports and input from various managers. Set a start and
stop time & date for the audit.
A fact finding
event is used to gather all applicable information. Auditors
should make an effort not to form an opinion or make
evaluative comments during this phase.
A Team Approach - If a safety audit team is used,
make assignments to each person that defines their area of
inspection. Ensure they have the proper program background
information and documents.
Safety Audit Areas - most audits can be broken
down into these areas:
Employee knowledge – OSHA standards require
"effective training" - an effective program
ensures that employees have the knowledge required to
operate in a safe manner on a daily basis. The level of
knowledge required depends on the specific activities in
which the employee is involved and their specific duties and
responsibilities. Generally, managers and supervisors should
have a higher level of knowledge than general employees.
This includes practical knowledge of program administration,
management and training. They should be able to discuss all
elements of each program that affects their assigned
employees. Many programs divide employees into these two
groups- authorized employees and affected employees.
Authorized employees must have a high level of working
knowledge involving hazard identification and hazard control
procedures. Determining employee level of knowledge can be
achieved though written quizzes, formal interviews or
informal questions in the workplace.
during the safety audit, a comprehensive review of the written
program should be conducted. This review should compare the
company program to requirements for hazard identification
and control, required employee training and record keeping
against the local, state and federal requirements.
Additionally, if applicable, the company insurance carrier
should be asked to conduct an independent written program
Administration - This part of the safety audit review checks the implementation and
management of specific program requirements. This section
asks these and other similar questions:
Is there a person
assigned and trained to manage the program?
Are specific duties
and responsibilities assigned?
Is there an
effective and on-going employee training program?
Document Review - Missing or incomplete documents or records is a
good indication that a program that is not working as
designed. Records are the company's only means of proving
that specific regulatory requirements have been met. Record
review also includes a look at the results, recommendations
and corrective actions from the last program audit.
This area of an safety audit inspects the material condition and
applicability of the equipment for hazard control in a
specific program. Examples of audit questions for this area
Is the equipment in
a safe condition
Is there adequate
equipment to conduct tasks safely
protective equipment used and stored properly
Is equipment, such
as exit lights, emergency lights, fire extinguishers,
material storage and handling equipment designed and staged
to control hazards effectively?
- While safety audits are not designed to be comprehensive physical
wall-to-wall facility inspections, a general walk-though of
work areas can provide additional insight into the
effectiveness of safety programs. Auditors should take
written notes of unsafe conditions and unsafe acts observed
during the walk-through.
of Findings of the safety audit
documents, written programs, procedures, work practices and
equipment have been inspected, gather your team and material
together to formulate a concise report that details all
areas of the program. Remember to focus on the four basic
questions mentioned earlier. Each program requirement should
be addressed with deficiencies noted. Include comments of a
positive nature for each element that is being effectively
Recommendations from the safety audit
actions for each deficient condition of the program. Careful
forethought should be applied to ensure that this is not a
process that simply makes more rules, additional record
keeping requirement or makes production tasks more
difficult. Examine the manner and means in which the current
deficient elements are managed to determine if there is a
simpler procedure that can be employed.
Corrective Actions from the safety audit
corrective action should involve the managers and supervisor
who will be required to execute the corrections. Set
priorities based on level of hazard. All corrective actions
should be assigned a completion and review date. Records of
completed corrective actions should be reviewed through the
normal management chain and then be filed for use during the
the Safety Audit results
It is essential to
let all supervisors and manager know the basic findings and
recommendations. Don’t forget to acknowledge those
departments, managers and supervisors who are properly
executing their responsibilities. After a few audits,
everyone will want to show up on the plus side of the
results, making the safety mangers job much easier.