Internal and external audits and gap analyses are an important part of everyday operations to ensure worker safety, legislative compliance and best practice in modern organisations.
However, the next step – actioning the audit findings – is often less structured and inconsistent, which both devalues the audit process and potentially puts workers and the organisation at risk.
Translating the audit findings into clear, concise and practical corrective action plans is the critical step.
An effective corrective action plan should:
List the findings (Major non-conformances, Minor non-conformances and Opportunities for Improvement):
- Ensure findings are clearly understood and expressed in terms people can associate with the organisation.
Document specific and measurable corrective actions to resolve findings:
- Corrective actions must be specific and must address the finding directly as well as the root cause and lateral implications. For example, where it was found that safety data sheets are outdated, a ‘quick fix’ would be to replace the outdated safety data sheets. A more appropriate corrective action would be to establish why this had not been detected internally and ensure that inspections include checking safety data sheets, train staff in undertaking inspections, develop an inspection schedule and then undertake an inspection.
Allocate corrective action responsibilities and timeframes:
- Ensure specific responsibilities for each action are allocated to staff who have the training, skills, experience and authority to develop and implement the corrective action.
Prioritise the corrective actions
- Always prioritise corrective actions based on the risk to the organisation to ensure what is safety critical or high risk is not de-prioritised in favour of more trivial issues.
Review the corrective action plan
- Set a realistic review period for actions to ensure that their implementation has effectively addressed the initial finding and ensure progress is monitored at Management meetings.
- Ensure that subsequent audits review the progress on the findings from the previous audit.
Please contact QRMC for more information.