Safety is the most important issue in any workplace. If a worker doesn’t feel safe in his or her job, then they’ll be unable to focus on doing a good job – and will focus on avoiding injury instead. Not only does this not contribute to a productive work environment – it’s dangerous, and is likely a sign that your place of work is not up to date on current legal requirements.
Fortunately, periodic safety checks or safety audits of your business are an easy way to ensure that everything is running smoothly and that there are no hidden safety hazards. A lot of organizations shy away from safety audits, thinking that they are only searching for things that are going drastically wrong. But it doesn’t have to be that way! With the right attitude and intent, anyone can carry out a productive safety audit.
The goals of any audit are simple, and achieving these goals is especially easy if you continue to carry out regular safety audits. A truly productive safety audit should:
- identify the risks, and the levels of severity of said risks, within the workplace
- identify strengths and weaknesses in your safety procedures
- assess whether your safety procedures are legally compliant
- compare current documentation and practices against best practice and legal obligations
- recommend improvements in your safety procedures
- ensure that there adequate resources available to manage Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)
- ensure that the resources devoted to health and safety are being utilized effectively
A safety audit can focus on one single activity, one segment of the organization or the overall status of the organization as a whole. It all depends on how you want to approach it.
How often should safety audits be held?
A full-on safety audit should be completed about once every 3 months. Since the process is a bit more in-depth than a general safety check it doesn’t need to be done every month. However, a general safety inspection of workstations should be held weekly to ensure there are no minor safety hazards.
What specifically should you look for in a safety audit?
While you may want to add an item or two onto your site’s own safety audit list, a good audit will always check for each of the following common work hazards:
- Safety hazards such as faulty machinery, unsafe work practices, unsafe conditions, etc.
- Biological hazards such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc.
- Chemical hazards. This is especially important if you are frequently handling chemicals and other dangerous liquids.
- Physical demands/conditions on the worker such as continuous repetitions of a single action, awkward posture, weather, pressure, etc.
What sorts of things should I have written up after a safety audit?
At the end of a successful audit, you should have:
- An updated tool inventory that highlights any tools or machinery at your worksite, and where they are each located; this helps to keep things in their correct place and make sure that they don’t go missing.
- An updated chemical inventory that confirms chemicals are being stored safely, securely, and in a proper location on-site, where they won’t react to the other chemicals stored around. This is imperative since a chemical reaction can be one of the most dangerous accidents in the workplace.
While not necessarily a requirement, it’s also very helpful to have an updated diagram of the workplace at the end of every safety audit. A mapping of where everything is located can help mark where certain hazards are while moving through the facilities. That way, staff and co-workers alike have to waste time struggling to remember the location of certain safety hazards while on the job.
Safety audits are necessary for every business from office jobs to garages to factories. Every workplace should complete periodic safety checks to ensure that there are no hazards that could hurt someone or even damage expensive equipment. If you continue to complete these safety audits at regular intervals, you will breeze through them and reduce on-site injuries for your workers. However, if you become lax and neglect them for a while, they become harder to complete. Keep up to date on your safety and you definitely won’t regret it.