How to Master Your Audits and Inspections

What is a Health and Safety Audit?

(High level)

A Health and Safety Audit is a process that allows us to measure Organisations compliance to health and safety legislation and the effectiveness of the current Risk Assessment process, Policies, procedures and an Organisations “Safe System of Work” including Contractor Safety and internal Rules and Regulations.

Why should you have an Audit?

Businesses have a legal duty to monitor, maintain and review all matters and arrangements of health and safety. By adhering to the Audit requirement and process an Organisation will be able to demonstrate that all matters relating to health and safety are pro-actively managed in accordance with current legislation, insurance and local authority requirements.

Applicable Legislation:

• The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

• The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

• The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

• Legal Precedent: A ruling made in court which then influences future cases involving similar issues.

To name a few…

Consequences of Non-Conformity

Health and safety legislation unlike conventional English Law, assumes you are guilty until proven innocent. In other words, the burden of proof lies with the Defendant to prove his/her innocence.

Section 40 of HSWA and the ‘reverse burden of proof’.

Fines and Imprisonment

As a consequence of new legislation, namely The Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008, imprisonment and fines of up to £20,000 may now be imposed upon an individual employee regardless of rank or position. This serves to demonstrate that ownership of health and safety is now every one’s responsibility and acts as a warning to ensure ongoing maintenance and management of all health and safety matters.

What are Workplace Inspections?

Inspections are a proactive part of good health and safety management. An inspection helps to identify hazards or processes that may not be working efficiently and decide what measures should be in place before an accident may occur.

They can be carried out as frequently as required. Inspections may be required less often if the work environment is low risk such as in an office, but more frequent inspection will be needed if certain workplace areas or specific activities are high risk or change rapidly or significantly.

What does a General Safety Inspection involve?

A general workplace inspection should include the following checks:

• Machinery — Is it sufficiently maintained and guarded?

• Systems of work — Are designs safe and still being followed?

• Hazardous substances — Are they used and stored safely?

• Manual handling — Are staff adequately trained and using correct aids?

• Workplace — Is housekeeping good (no trailing wires etc)?

• Fire precautions — Are extinguishers in place and escape routes clear?

• Welfare facilities — Is a stocked first aid box in place, are toilets clean?

In addition, the ‘health and safety management system’ maybe checked to ensure policies, procedures and high level arrangements are in place.

Audits and inspections are a key part of having an effective health and safety management system.

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