BUSINESS NEWS - Both the nature and the delivery of occupational health and safety audits, or OHS audits, vary as a result of employers based in George determining the reason for the audit, as well as with what they hope to find.
The purpose of conducting an OHS audit is to identify strengths within the OHS programme of an employer as well as highlighting any weaknesses or gaps.
When considering an OHS audit, the following areas must be considered:
- OHS policies
- Hazard and risk identification and control.
This can be done effectively by assessing how well the occupational health and safety programme complies with legislation, regulation, guidelines and other well-established best practices. Furthermore, an OHS audit can also:
- Identify areas where improvement is needed to protect workers from both injury and illness.
- Ensure legislative compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and other legislation.
- Benchmark OHS practices, and
- Determine the rewards and penalties administered by regulatory and certification bodies.
When an audit is being conducted, organisations must ensure that it is done so effectively. Therefore, it is crucial to conduct an audit in a systematic way by following the following steps as a guideline.
Enter the basic details
Before an audit can be conducted, it is necessary to capture some basic information, including that of the audit programme manager, the auditee and all other participants of the audit.
In addition, this section can be designed to indicate previous audits, findings and the actions taken.
OHS audit context
The context of the audit will include the following factors for consideration by the SafetyWallet auditor:
- Business goals and objectives of the organisation.
- Relevant external and internal issues.
- Needs and expectations of interested parties.
- Information security and the confidentiality requirements of the OHS programme.
OHS audit objectives
The SafetyWallet auditor must establish the audit objectives. Individual audit objectives must be consistent with the context, with the following taken into consideration:
- Extent of the OHS programme to be audited.
- Capacity of the OHS programme to help the organisation meet regulatory requirements.
- Effectiveness of the OHS programme in producing its intended results.
- Opportunities for improvement in the OHS programme.
- Sustainability of the OHS programme.
OHS audit scope
The scope of the audit must be consistent with the context, with the following factors taken into consideration:
The location where the audit will take place.
- The function that the audit will serve.
- Activities to be audited.
- Processes that must be audited, and
- The timeframe of the audit.
OHS audit criteria
Where an individual audit is conducted, the criteria must be defined and used as referenced. The criteria must include:
- Relevant policies.
- Processes and standard operating procedures (SOP).
- Performance objectives and key performance indicators (KPI).
- Statutory and other relevant requirements.
- Management system requirements such as ISO standards.
- Internal codes of conduct.
OHS audit monitoring systems
The SafetyWallet auditor must ensure that the necessary and required tools and systems are in place. Some of the activities that must be monitored may include:
- Timelines of the audit, whether deadlines and schedules are met.
- The performance of audit team members.
- The successful implementation of action plans and their effectiveness.
- Feedback from the employer as well as other key and relevant participants.
- The documentation of audit activities.
The SafetyWallet auditor must collect and review the relevant documentation as per the OHS programme. The review is considered an approval task, requiring that all provided documentation be approved before the audit can commence.
Documented information, as a holistic term, can refer to:
- Processes, either recorded on paper or with software.
- Management system documents as well as records, and
- Previous audit reports.
Audit plan preparation
The SafetyWallet auditor must prepare an audit plan for the OHS audit. The plan can cover some of the following:
- Roles and responsibilities of each member of the audit team.
- Risk-based approach to planning the audit.
- Scheduling as well as coordination of audit activities.
- The scope and complexity of the audit.
- Sampling techniques to be used in collecting evidence.
- Opportunities for improvement.
- Risks of inadequate planning, and
- Impact of the audit on the employer’s activities.
OHS audit initiation
There are several different components that must be covered before and during an audit, these are:
- Arrangements with the auditee prior to the audit.
- Open meeting with the auditee and the relevant parties prior to the audit.
- Access to the required and relevant information and documentation.
- Collecting evidence in context of the organisation.
- Assess the organisation’s understanding and context.
- Assess the needs and expectations of interested parties.
- Assess the OHS programme scope.
- Collect evidence on leadership, planning, support, operations, performance evaluation and improvement.
The SafetyWallet auditor must review all the evidence both provided and collected and note their findings on each.
OHS audit report preparation
The SafetyWallet auditor must compile and issue the report within 24 hours of the audit. In addition, the auditee must be granted enough time to take corrective actions.
OHS audit report presentation
The SafetyWallet auditor must schedule a meeting with the auditee, relevant key personnel and interested parties, in which the audit report is presented. During this session, the auditor must place emphasis on:
- Addressing special occurrences or situations that may impact the reliability of audit conclusions.
- Ensure those attending are familiar with, and have access to, the audit report.
- Ensure the auditee is familiar with the audit process.
- Confirm the timeframe of the audit follow-up actions.
- Provide findings, feedback, recommendations and highlight opportunities for improvement.
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