The Complete Health and Safety Audit Checklist
7 March 2023 - Evotix
Health and safety in the workplace is a non-negotiable aspect for the entire organization. Keeping employees healthy and safe, not only increases productivity and quality of life, but further elevates employee morale within the workplace. Albeit hazards are ever-present in most organizations, but those that focus on mitigating these hazards, and further risks, are on the path to the prevention of incidents, which in turn leads to better workplaces. Protecting the physical and mental health of your employees results in an efficiently and productively run workplace.
To help ensure the accuracy of the controls in place, you need to make sure your organization is maximally prepared. Safety procedures should be properly implemented according to official guidelines.
A health and safety audit is a great way to ensure no steps are missed and that a process is created to guarantee health and safety remains more than just a priority for the organization.
What is a health and safety audit?
A health and safety audit is a high-level assessment of organizational health and safety. The audit investigates a company’s health and safety policies, processes, procedures, systems and more to identify what gaps are present and the steps needed to accurately mitigate the risks and hazards in the workplace. Additionally, it is an excellent tool that shows the aspects of continuous improvement to an organization’s health and safety.
Usually, an audit is heavily reliant on the industry of the organization. It should be detailed and comprehensive, containing all elements of the workplace that need regular maintenance and check-ups. The audit checklist should include potential risks and indicate the likelihood and severity of the risk and hazard impact.
A health and safety audit should be used every time you prepare or conduct an audit. Likewise, the audit checklist is a helpful tool during inspections. The frequency of an audit will typically depend on the risk level of your organization.
A health and safety audit checklist may inspect elements such as fire, electricity and building safety risks.
Who needs to use a health and safety audit?
Any business with a workplace is required to use a health and safety audit checklist. This is an important step towards ensuring compliance with relevant regulations from organizations such as OSHA, HSE and Safe Work Australia.
By following a checklist, a business can ensure they are meeting each specific requirement, without missing anything important. Businesses that want to improve their safety standards will also benefit from using an audit checklist, to ensure best possible results.
Health and safety audit checklists are used by the health and safety department and any other team members in charge of inspections.
What should be included in a health and safety audit checklist?
Information included in a health and safety audit checklist should be specific to the industry and fit the requirements of that industry according to regulation. Identifying steps that are relevant to the specific workplace is essential for ensuring the safest possible work environment.
The following are examples of 7 possible steps on a health and safety audit checklist. Health and safety audit checklist content relies on the specific industry, and the following is just an example and may not necessarily apply to your organization.
1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Have employees received the necessary training around the correct use of PPE? This should include use and removal.
Is the PPE in the correct condition for the safest result?
OSHA requires the employer to assess whether the workplace necessitates PPE. The employer is then required to select the appropriate protective gear and communicate proper usage to their employees through training.
2. Tools and Machinery
Are all the dangerous, complex or heavy machinery in use regularly checked?
Is the machinery in good condition?
Does it pose a threat to employees?
Are all employees adequately trained to operate the machinery to the safest standard?
Tools and machinery are present in many industries and even simple tools can be hazardous if used inappropriately. Regulatory bodies will have specific standards for each tool.
Are the necessary safety equipment and procedures in place around all the electrical elements in the workplace?
Is adequate lighting provided across the workplace for employees to work effectively and safely?
Most industries work with electricity, either directly or indirectly. Engineers and electricians specifically may work with overhead lines and cable harnesses, while office workers may have indirect exposure to electricity.
OSHA, HSE and Fire Safety Australia have long recognized electricity as a potentially serious workplace hazard and specific guidelines should be followed to avoid events such as electric shock, electrocution, fires and more. These specific standards and guidelines can be found on your country’s relevant health and safety website.
Are the correct procedures in place regarding a clear fire safety evacuation?
Are clear evacuation routes and an adequate number of fully working fire extinguishers provided?
Are employees aware of fire emergency protocols?
Fire is a possibility in many workplaces. All employers should provide fire emergency training and a fire plan should be in place. For exact guidance on standards in your industry, visit your relevant regulatory body’s website.
5. Heavy Loading/Unloading
If your workplace requires regular loading and unloading of heavy goods, are there properly functioning ramps and platforms and properly working loading arms?
Are all junction boxes and wiring in good working order?
Heavy loading and unloading will be particularly relevant to the transportation sector. There are many considerations when it comes to measuring the safety of your loading and unloading areas and relevant guidelines should be carefully followed.
6. Chemical/Hazardous Substance Storage
Are the correct procedures in place for the usage and storage of chemical/hazardous substances? This should include correct temperatures, safe storage containers, proper labelling of products and the necessary equipment to deal with these substances safely.
Are employees dealing with these substances properly trained in line with the stated regulations?
Chemical hazards pose a wide and serious hazard threat. Per OSHA’s and HSE’s guidance, employees working with chemicals should have information readily available on chemical hazards and toxic substances. Employees should also be aware of all possible risks before handling the chemicals.
7. Working from Height
Is clear evidence provided that all equipment used by employees when working from height, such as step ladders and elevating devices regularly checked?
Are weight restrictions clearly labeled and adhered to?
Is the equipment grounded correctly when in use and is all electrical equipment properly maintained?
Are employees trained on how to use ladders safely?
Working from height is a hazard usually experienced predominately by construction and electrical companies. All work conducted at height should be well planned in advance and supervised, according to websites such as OSHA and HSE.
Health and safety audit schedule
In addition to the above criteria, a health and safety checklist should also provide guidance on appropriate scheduling. Some elements of the checklist may require more frequent monitoring, although this will also largely depend on your specific industry and the recommended audit timeline. Clear guidance should be provided within your health and safety audit checklist regarding regular inspection to ensure that compliance with regulations is maintained and no areas of the workplace are neglected.
Health and safety audit checklist template
Health and safety audits are an important part of the overall health and safety of your organization. A well-detailed and relevant audit checklist can help ensure your compliance with regulatory measures and prepare your organization to pass audits.
Yet, health and safety audit checklists will differ greatly between industries and businesses. There are EHS software solutions that can help create a unique health and safety audit checklist, with all the relevant criteria for your specific business. This audit software streamlines the process, provides mobile on-the-go access and helps achieve compatibility with recognized regulations and standards. Look specifically for options such as monitoring, image attachment, feedback, automated reports and quick data generation via dashboards.
A health and safety audit checklist is a must-have for your organization as it allows you to hold detailed periodic inspections of your workplace, helping you pass subsequent audits. This can help you avoid legal fines, while ensuring you thoroughly protect your employees.
A safety audit checklist ensures that your organization is actively identifying and rectifying potential dangers. If you are interested in finding out more, download our eBook, “What is an EHS Audit?” where we share how you can simplify your EHS audit process to help transform your audit experience for the better.
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