5 Tips for effective health and safety auditing

Health & Safety

Managers discuss effective health and safety auditing Are your risks properly managed?

Managing health and safety risks is an essential part of your wider risk management and corporate governance programme. If you want to improve current and future performance, effective health and safety auditing is key.

Here are our expert tips for determining whether you are doing what you need to do, including identifying areas for improvement.

  • Tip 1: Establish your audit programme

A well-planned audit programme will enable you to focus on how your organisation manages health and safety, including the key issues and risks. You can then identify those risks that are well managed, and those that could be managed better.

Establish an effective health and safety auditing programme by:

  1. Focusing on your most significant risks.
  2. Paying close attention to areas that have caused problems in the past.
  3. Setting realistic timeframes, and scheduling audits, so that you can focus on one area or issue at a time.
  4. Identifying your resource requirements and what support you need.
  5. Deciding how you will obtain evidence during each audit.

  • Tip 2: Clearly define your audit objectives, scope and criteria

Clearly defined objectives, scope and criteria for individual audits will help you focus on the most important issues.

  • Tip 3: Select the right audit methods

You can conduct your audit using a range of methods, depending on the audit objectives, scope and criteria. What might be suitable for one audit may not be suitable for another, so it is important to use the right methods. These may include face-to-face or telephone interviews, completing checklists and questionnaires and reviewing relevant documentation.

  • Tip 4: Prepare clear and concise audit reports

Audit reports should provide a complete, accurate, concise and clear record of your audit. The length and level of detail in each report will depend on factors including the audit subject, scope and intended audience.

Make sure your findings and recommendations are straightforward and to the point. We find a useful technique is to break these down into three components, as illustrated in the following simple example:

Break down your findings and recommendations:
State the issue, for example, “There were no records of DSE workstation assessments for staff in the London office”.

State the requirement of the relevant criteria, such as, “The DSE management procedure states that all DSE users will complete a workstation assessment, and records will be kept in the site log book”.

Make a clear recommendation, for example, “Ensure that workstation assessments are carried out for all DSE users and that records are kept in the site log book”.

  • Tip 5: Be positive

Clipboard used for effective health and safety auditing

A good audit report will also include current strengths and areas of good practice, assuming they are present of course! Avoid the temptation to focus solely on the negative – give due recognition to positive findings.

Add business value, with better health and safety audits

Effective health and safety auditing involves more than just tick-box exercises: it will add value and help improve business performance. Following our 5 expert tips will set you on the right path, providing confidence in how your risks are being managed.