Start 2008 With a Safety Audit

Get a safe start to the new year by conducting an environmental, health and safety audit to assess hazards and reduce workplace injuries and illnesses.

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) points out that an audit program is an important tool that can protect workers and identify safety hazards that affect the organization’s bottom line. ASSE not only urges companies to consider such a program, but also is conducting its own audit early this year.

“Audits are one of the key tools we, as occupational safety, health and environmental practitioners, use in our ongoing efforts to reduce on-the-job injuries, illnesses and fatalities worldwide,” said Michael W. Thompson, ASSE president.

According to ASSE, safety professionals should be prepared to take the following steps when designing a comprehensive audit program:

  • Identify the audit objectives.
  • Define and plan the audit.
  • Conduct the audit.
  • Analyze the audit findings.
  • Develop and implement correct actions.
  • Develop and implement methods to track corrective actions.
  • Establish metrics to gauge the audit process.
  • Create a final report of the audit results and conclusions.

"Basically, the auditor assesses the real time status of the entity's [environmental, health and safety] program, diagnoses weaknesses and strengths and prescribes a course to recovery and/or moving forward,” Thompson said. To do this, he added, safety professionals should have a strong knowledge of audit principles and regulatory requirements, as well as being objective, open-minded and diplomatic.

When conducting an audit, safety professionals should:

  • Review the record of accidents, injuries and illnesses that occurred since the previous audit.
  • Analyze resources devoted to identifying and controlling hazards; employee training; and safety motivation and recognition.
  • Determine how involved management is in accident prevention.
  • Evaluate the results of physical inspections.
  • Evaluate the results of observations targeting operations that have a history of accidents or hazards.
  • Develop timely, effective corrective action plans to mitigate hazards identified during the audit in order to prevent reoccurrence.

"Once a systematic auditing program is developed and implemented consistently, you will have a program that will prove to be an invaluable tool for a company's business sustainability,” Thompson said.

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