Topics that should be included in a Health and Safety Audit

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Audits, the best time to display your ‘window dressing’ talents, something only the top elite, the most experienced, manage to pull off…

Hope not, hopefully it is not even in the minds of your management team and hopefully the audit adds the value to your business the way it was intended to. I will try and entertain you on a topic that most dread to even think about not to mention read about.

People in general regard audits as a punitive exercise, whether this stems from a bad experience or just a misconception on what the purpose of an audit is.

The focus here will be to look at the aspects that need to be considered when doing an Occupational Health & Safety Audit within the workplace.

“Every business is unique and should be approached differently.”

“Scope of Work” is the starting point when planning for the audit. From all the Sections of the act that is applicable to all industries and most employers, you also have to take into consideration the Regulations that follow.

When planning to execute an audit, the main objective would be to measure against legislative requirements applicable to that specific business, then you also consider the needs of the business and what the goals for that employer is by having the audit done in the first place.

From simple compliance to client requirements, the value of the audit must fit in with the needs identified from the business’s perspective. The outcome always stays in tune with the true nature of the audit program, to identify and promote room for improvement to benefit the bottom-line.

“What about the Department of Labour”

The benefits to your business ranges, just to name a few;

  • Fine prevention

  • Societal acceptance

  • Legislative awareness

  • Employer moral obligation

  • Skills development contribution

  • Market share – Investment of choice

  • Market dominance – Supplier of choice

“Legal Requirement” adherence is only one of the many positive returns for having a Health & Safety system that functions successfully and continuously improve. This can only be measured accurately when conducting a Compliance audit at your business, then rectified and improved on with the findings there-after….

If they are accurate of course….

(Remember my first sentence.)

A typical audit consists of six factors and excluding the meetings held in-between, we can list them as follows;

  • Audit preparation (off-site)

  • Review documentation

  • Do familiarization tour of facility

  • Do physical inspection

  • Final verification of documents

  • Write report on findings and list corrective actions (off-site)

“Best Practice”, largely the other half of the spectrum, this need applies to many industries especially international businesses, not to mention that any business operates with the consent of society as a whole. This should take just as much consideration and be clearly communicated when planning the audit. If the business have industry specific specifications it needs to adhere to or ISO certification to uphold, it all comes down to the individual need of that business.

So what are the things we include, or rather look at and ‘sample’ when conducting a compliance audit? Seeing as we separated them into main categories.

“Safety Policy” This is a basic legal requirement for all employers in all industries. But the requirement goes on, it further requires the employer to communicate this policy to all employees and to display it in the workplace.

“Company Structure” The OHS Act’s objective is to form a clear hierarchy within the roles and responsibilities of Health & Safety in the workplace and there are numerous formal appointment letters required in basic legal compliance.

“HIRA” A fan favourite and when clearly understood, the common sense behind this becomes evident. Any business should manage and prioritize their risks, why skimp on the risks towards people affected by your business activities.

“Communication” The foundation of any and all Management systems, the key ingredient for a working Health & Safety system and obviously towards your portfolio of evidence.

Everything considered, effective audits will point out shortcomings in your system and act as a preventative for legal complications should an unfortunate event occur.

After all, businesses relies on people to execute tasks and with the human factor involved, total control cannot be managed and proves impractical, these risks should rather be accommodated and planned for.

For more information on the above topic, please contact the LabourNet Helpdesk at

0861 LABNET (0861 522638).

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