Conducting Safety Program Audits

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The big four – There are four basic questions an audit should answer.
1. Does the program cover all regulatory and best industry practice requirements?
2. Are the program requirements being met?
3. Is there documented proof of compliance?
4. Is employee training effective – can and do they apply specific safe behaviors?

Phase One: Audit Preparation
One week prior to the audit, inform all affected managers and supervisors. They should be directed to have all records, documents and procedures available when the audit starts. The audit team should then review all past program area audits and corrective action recommendations.

Phase Two: Fact Finding
A fact-finding event is used to gather all applicable information. Auditors should make an effort not to form an opinion or make evaluative comments during this phase. If an audit team is used, make assignments to each person that defines their area of inspection. Ensure they have the proper program background information and documents.

Audit Areas – most audits can be broken down into these areas:

Employee knowledge – OSHA standards require “effective training” – an effective program ensures that employees have the knowledge required to operate in a safe manner on a daily basis.

Written Program Review – during the audit, a comprehensive review of the written program should be conducted. This review should compare the company program to requirements for hazard identification and control, required employee training and record keeping against the local, state and federal requirements.

Program Administration – This review checks the implementation and management of specific program requirements.

Record & Document Review – Missing or incomplete documents or records is a good indication that a program that is not working as designed. Records are the company’s only means of proving that specific regulatory requirements have been met.

Equipment and Material – This area of an audit inspects the material condition and applicability of the equipment for hazard control in a specific program.

General Area Walk-Through – While audits are not designed to be comprehensive physical wall-to-wall facility inspections, a general walk-though of work areas can provide additional insight into the effectiveness of safety programs. Auditors should take written notes of unsafe conditions and unsafe acts observed during the walk-through.

Phase Three: Review of Findings
After all documents, written programs, procedures, work practices and equipment have been inspected, gather the team and material together to formulate a concise report that details all areas of the program. Each program requirement should be addressed with deficiencies noted. Include comments of a positive nature for each element that is being effectively managed.

Phase Four: Recommendations
Develop recommended actions for each deficient condition of the program. Careful forethought should be applied to ensure that this is not a process that simply makes more rules, additional record keeping requirement or makes production tasks more difficult.

Phase Five: Corrective Actions
Development of corrective action should involve the managers and supervisor who will be required to execute the corrections. Set priorities based on level of hazard. All corrective actions should be assigned a completion and review date.

Phase Six: Publish the results
It is essential to let all supervisors and managers know the basic findings and recommendations. Don’t forget to acknowledge those departments, managers and supervisors who are properly executing their responsibilities.
Remember – Safety Audits are primarily to check the effectiveness of the various programs; they should not take the place of regular facility inspections.

For more information regarding safety audits, please contact our Senior Human Resources Consultant M. Edward Krow today!