Depending on the organisation and the level of operational risk, such inspections can (and should) vary greatly in frequency and thoroughness.
However, it is not uncommon for workplace inspections to be relied on as the primary tool by which an organisation determines whether its safety management system is effective.
While workplace inspections are important and should certainly be regularly undertaken, an audit of the safety management system and processes is critical to provide a more in-depth assessment of the effectiveness of safety management across the organisation. QRMC would recommend that an audit of this nature should be undertaken at least annually
An audit is more structured and systematic than an inspection, and will delve deeper into the way the organisation operates. Additionally, unlike an inspection which is a “snapshot in time”, an audit assesses the performance of the safety system over a period of time. The audit involves:
- A review of documented safety systems and procedures to confirm that these reflect both regulatory requirements and the needs of the organisation.
- Interviews with personnel from various levels of the organisation, verifying their understanding of the organisation’s safety requirements (as pertaining to their role), the extent to which their daily activities comply with these requirements, and their ability to apply the management system and processes.
- Inspections of workplace sites to identify indicators of safety management system shortcomings.
- Formulation of recommendations for management review, so that identified problems can be addressed.
Audits should be scheduled regularly and their findings will become part of the management review process as required by AS4801 Occupational health and safety management systems. Regular internal audits are an important way for an organisation to check that their safety management system is actually effective in keeping workers safe. Also, from time to time, an organisation will benefit from having a safety audit conducted by an external auditor, in order to provide objective benchmarking.
Please contact QRMC for more information.