When planning a health and safety audit, it’s crucial to carry out a thorough preparation stage to ensure its success. The preparation stage typically involves several steps that we must take to lay the groundwork for the audit’s implementation.
The first step is to select a competent audit team that’s independent of the area being audited. We must ensure that the team members have the necessary skills and knowledge to conduct the audit effectively. Moreover, the team should consist of members who can collaborate and work cohesively to achieve the audit’s objectives.
Next, we need to discuss and agree on the audit’s objectives and scope with relevant managers and employee representatives. This step is critical as it helps to clarify what we want to achieve through the audit and how we plan to achieve it. It also enables us to identify any potential challenges or limitations that we may encounter during the audit.
Developing audit questionnaires and checklists and agreeing on the relevant guidance and standards to apply is another essential step in the preparation stage. We must ensure that the audit questionnaires and checklists align with the audit’s objectives and scope and that they cover all the critical areas we want to examine. Furthermore, agreeing on the relevant guidance and standards helps to ensure that the audit is conducted in a consistent and uniform manner.
Allocating resources and agreeing on timescales and feedback methods are other important steps in the preparation stage. We must ensure that we allocate sufficient resources to carry out the audit effectively, including personnel, time, and equipment. Additionally, we need to agree on the timescales for the audit and the feedback methods to use to communicate the audit findings.
Senior managers play a vital role in ensuring that the audit process runs smoothly. They must provide leadership and convince all participants of the audit’s importance. Moreover, they must provide sufficient resources, including time for both auditors and auditees to deliver a good audit. Senior managers can also be involved in the audit process by cross-auditing parts of the organisation for which they have no direct responsibility. Additionally, when they receive the audit findings, they must ensure that any shortcomings are addressed in a timely manner.
Finally, top management must ensure that the audit programme objectives are established, and one or more competent persons are assigned to manage the audit programme. The extent of the audit programme should be based on the organisation’s size and nature, as well as the nature, functionality, complexity, and maturity level of the management system being audited. By following these steps, we can ensure that the audit process is well-planned, well-executed, and delivers the desired results.