Why health and safety management systems should be audited

Health and Safety Auditing

An audit is a systematic, independent and documented process for obtaining and evaluating evidence objectively to determine the extent to which the audit criteria are fulfilled. An audit can be an internal or external audit, and it can be a combined audit (combining two or more disciplines). An internal audit can be conducted by the organisation or an external party on its behalf.

Auditing supports monitoring by providing information on how well the health and safety management system is implemented.

The aims of auditing a health and safety management system should be to establish that:

  • appropriate management arrangements are in place;
  • adequate risk control systems exist, are implemented, and are consistent with the hazard profile of the organisation;
  • proper workplace precautions are in place.

There are positive and negative aspects to this. For example, an audit might identify a failing within the management system – a negative finding. Still, the emphasis should not be only on looking for failings. Positive aspects of the health and safety system should also be identified. This could mean identifying areas where the organisation is performing well, learning what is driving this, and then applying those principles to other areas that are not performing well.

A team approach involving managers, safety representatives and employees effectively extends involvement and cooperation in devising and implementing the programme.

Types of audit

System audit

This is an audit conducted on a management system. It can be described as a documented activity performed to verify that system elements are appropriate and effective by examining and evaluating objective evidence. hey have been developed, written, and implemented in accordance and in conjunction with specified requirements.

A quality management system audit evaluates an existing quality management program to determine its conformance to company policies, contract commitments, and regulatory requirements.

Similarly, an environmental system audit examines an environmental management system, a food safety system audit examines a food safety management system, and safety system audits examine the safety management system.

Process audit

This type of audit verifies that processes are working within established limits. It evaluates an operation or method against predetermined instructions or standards to measure conformance to these standards and the effectiveness of the instructions.

Product/service audit

This type of audit examines a product or service, such as hardware, processed material, or software, to evaluate whether it conforms to requirements (i.e., specifications, performance standards, and customer requirements).