An important tool which is used for identifying and assessing the status, reliability and efficiency of an existing safety and health management system, in an industry or organization is called safety audit.
How to Conduct a Safety Audit?
Your safety experience is the master key of conducting a successful audit. Also you should be familiar with the workplace nature to be able to identify all hidden hazards. I recommend reading my article Identifying hazards at workplace, Example and control
Let’s have an example of conducting an audit for a construction site, If I will conduct this audit I will ask my self the following questions:
- What are the work activities at this site?
- What kind of tools do they use?
- Are there any heavy trucks on the site?
- Are there any Overhead power lines near the site?
- What about electrical power cables? Voltage level? The route of cables?
- Is there a chance of working at night hours?
These are the important question that I will ask my self before going to the working site. Then, the next step, I will contact the site supervisor to get clear answers about my questions.
Based on the answer of my questions, I will prepare my safety audit checklist, let’s do it together:
General Safety Items:
- All workers should have PPE and use it all the time.
- Safety signs at the location to show hidden hazards.
- Work is done under supervision of well trained supervisor.
- All drivers should have authorized license for the truck.
- Ensure that the site has an emergency plan. Ensure all workers know how to perform the plan.
- Check all work procedures, risk assessment and permit to work for all running activities.
- Emergency call numbers are know to every one.
- Offices and all other buildings which have workers inside should have fire fighting system and smoke detectors. Read my other detailed article about fire protection system.
- Check Fire extinguishers in the location. Each one should has monthly inspection label.
Electrical Safety Audit Checklist Items:
- Working near power lines should follow electrical strict safety precautions.
- Electrical power cables route should be clear and known.
- Cables route should be away of trucks working area. And should be on cable tray or underground.
- Check Power cables Insulation for any damages or cracks.
- All electrical panels should be closed.
- Only authorized electricians are allowed to work with panels.
- Check all lighting fixtures, make sure they are enough, well distributed at the location and working properly.
- Make sure that the site has emergency lighting source for working at night.
- If the site has an electrical generator, ensure that the generator has its periodic maintenance, safety signs, fire extinguisher beside it and proper fence around it.
- All panels should have safety caution sing on its body.
- High voltage devices should have reach protection i.e only authorized person can reach.
Lifting Activities Checklist Items:
- Check all lifting cranes certificates, and drivers licenses. Make sure all certificates and licenses are valid.
- All crane work should be far enough from any overhead power lines.
- Cranes should be suitable for loads at the site.
- Workers should only handle light weights. Wearing full PPE.
- Check crane working area, make sure that there are enough safety caution signs, no workers cross under heavy weights and no power lines.
- Safety inspection for lifting devices and the cranes is essential. And color code should be used for each lifting device and crane to identify its condition.
Working at Height Safety Audit Checklist Items:
- Ensure all scaffolds are installed, inspected and labeled by authorized well trained persons only.
- All workers should have and use safety harness for working at heights.
- Make sure all high levels have proper scaffolds and guardrails. Read my other article about guardrail requirements here.
- All fixed stairs should have safety handrails.
- Ensure all portable stairs at the site are only for use away from power lines.
- Make sure all portable stairs are electrically isolated.
Who Can Carryout This Audit?
A qualified occupational safety and safety auditors carryout this process, and hey prepare report of safety audit contains strength and weaknesses of the occupational safety and health system of an organization or workplace.
The report also contains recommendations to improve the health system. Let’s have a look on the various aspects of the safety audit systems.
Audits are usually done by independent agencies rather than the auditing person or organization.
A formal safety audit is conducted on regular bases. It is the official part of safety environment of the organization. It is carried out with the help of supervisors, middle and upper level operating management and safety managers.
What is Objective of Safety Audit?
The safety audit has the following main objectives:
- To identify the risks and hazards and alert the operating system about them.
- To identify such conditions which could became a cause of accidents and losses in lives.
- To perform the necessary revisions by reviewing the operating procedures.
- To identify that working procedure that could lead to hazards in future.
- To look for the accident situations and provide safety measures to deal that situation.
In simple words, Safety audits main objective is to make the organization or workplace safe for work, and to prevent any hazard situation before getting into accidents and fatalities.
Methodology for Adopting Audit
Only authorized channels are not enough to achieve the safe environment. A lot of political, scientific and economical aspects should also be considered for a good safety environment. Following are the methodologies which can be adopted for Safety Audit:
- Initial visit of audit team to get introduced with plant, operation, process and layout.
- Discussions with the other old managers and other management system to know the background of an organization. It also helps to know the technology and structure adopted by that organization’s factory. It is done to get the general details of processes, status of occupational safety and Health and information about the OSH problems faced by that organization.
- Verification of the data collected by performing the activities, discussed in the upper point.
- Analysis of the data after verification.
- Meeting the senior management personal of the organization to discuss about audit findings.
- Preparation of the safety audit report.
- In the final step mention the strength and weaknesses of the existing OSH system and provide the recommendations for its improvement.
How to Conduct Data Collection for Audit
Collection data is very important for safety audit. There are different strategies which are used for collecting the information.
- Safety audit team can go to visit the plant facilities in order to observe and collect the data. It is the best method of collecting the data. The information collected by this method is cross-checked when it becomes necessary. Such conditions happen when the physical verification does not support the facts gathered from records. Data is also collected by the verification of records pertaining to test.
- In the same way sometimes physical conditions and other data obtaining at site might not match to the records. That’s way in order to create the correct safety audit report it is necessary to cross check the facts gathered by visiting the organization and by the old records.
Use of Professional Judgment For Safety Audit
Professional judgment is also a main source of collecting the data for safety audit. As an objector, the auditor who makes his decision may suspect that this resource is being used to a lesser extent.
However, the auditor cannot completely avoid getting data by this source as in some cases this method is the only available mean.
Requirements for Conducting the Safety Audit
- The HSE officer will verify that the system is working properly as planned in the safety audit report.
- Use checklist and follow its items to complete the safety audits.
- Auditors will conduct the safety audit using the guidelines provided to them for conducting the safety audit.
- Auditors will record all the findings they get during the process and note their findings in the internal audit report and safety audit work sheet.
- All the findings will be reviewed by the supervisors. They will develop the corrective actions in findings.
- All the members of the audit team, after completing their tasks, will meet once in a meeting to collect all the data and reports. This process is important to make the final audit report.
- After completing the report the safety officer will meet the area supervisor and give him the audit report. He will also give the answer to the questions of the area supervisor.
What is The Best Time to Conduct Safety Audit? When the operations and work practices are taking place as normal, and distractions are least to the normal work procedure, that will be the best time for conducting the safety audit.
Safety Audit Checklist Importance : A checklist should be used to conduct the safety audit of an organization or an industry. Checklists are of many different types, depending on workplace nature and work type. They contain a number of tasks on a list.
The number of items or tasks on a checklist varies from only a few to several hundreds. It depends upon the complexity of the safety audit to be conducted.
Checklist provides the right direction to the tasks and also tells what should be done in order to complete the safety audit. The higher the probability of an adverse event, the more often safety audit will be conducted.
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