Health & Safety Audit

  • Health & Safety
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

In this guide, we'll discuss what a Health & Safety audit is, the benefits of conducting one, and the process to follow.

As an employer, you have a legal duty to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of all your employees. One way to do this is to carry out a Health & Safety audit.

This analysis can provide you with valuable insights and identify improvements, keeping your employees and other visitors on-site safe from injury at all times. Failure to do so may lead to serious injury and legal damage.

In this guide, we'll discuss what a Health & Safety audit is, the benefits of conducting one, and the process to follow.

What is a Health & Safety audit?

A Health & Safety audit is something a business conducts to identify any areas of improvement needed to enhance the safety of a business, as well as ensuring its legal compliance. Put simply, it is an evaluation and assessment of an organisation's Health & Safety:

  • Standards.
  • Policies
  • Systems, and 
  • Safety procedures. 

These audits are conducted by a Health & Safety professional who is qualified in the field. They gather evidence using the following methods:

  • Interviews.
  • Observations.
  • Document reviews.

Following this, they will produce a report identifying areas in which the business can improve its Health & Safety management system.

What areas does a Health & Safety audit cover?

A Health & Safety audit will cover a range of areas related to your Health & Safety management. 

This includes:

  • Health & Safety policies and procedures.
  • Risk assessments.
  • Accident and incident reporting.
  • Staff Health & Safety training.
  • Corrective actions.
  • Health & Safety records.
  • Health & Safety protocols for emergencies.

Check if your workplace meets essential safety standards

With SafeCheck, you can outsource your workplace Health & Safety audit to the UK's leading specialists - for only £295

Different types of Health & Safety audits

There are two different types of Health & Safety audits that your company can perform. Although they both help to ensure compliance for your business - it's important to know the differences between them, so you know what your company needs.

Let's discuss each of them in more detail:

Internal audit

An internal audit is an audit which is carried out within a company, by an employee. It must be carried out by a competent person; someone who has the sufficient training, experience, and knowledge to identify Health & Safety issues.

The competent person you choose should hold the relevant Health & Safety training qualifications. An example of this is having either a National Examination Board in Occupational Safety (NEBOSH) Diploma or NEBOSH Certificate.

Conducting an internal Health & Safety means you have greater control over the process as a whole. For example, you might wish to conduct it in stages so disruption to production is minimised.

External audit

An external Health & Safety audit is carried out by an external auditor who must be experienced, trained, and fully qualified, such as a Health & Safety consultant.

The auditor will follow an audit process as detailed in the HSE's authoritative Health & Safety audit template (HSE Best Practice Document HSG65). They'll visit your site and request:

  • Details of your workforce.
  • Health & Safety data.
  • Information regarding your Health & Safety systems.
  • Copies of your Health & Safety Policies.

An advantage of employing an external audit is that it tends to be more comprehensive than an internal audit. However, it's also likely to be more disruptive to your company. For example, you might need to shut down your production line for a significant amount of time whilst it is assessed. 

Is carrying out a Health & Safety audit a legal requirement?

No, under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 there's no legal requirement for a Health & Safety audit to be carried out. However, employers do have a legal duty to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their employees as far as reasonably practicable. And, a Health & Safety audit is a useful tool to do so.

The Health and Safety Executive states that large public and private sector organisations should have formal procedures in place regarding Health & Safety audits - as well as being required to report on their Health & Safety performance.

What are the benefits of carrying out Health & Safety audits?

There are several benefits your company can experience from carrying out regular Health & Safety audits of your company.

For example, an audit: 

  • Improves your Health & Safety management: By pinpointing areas of improvement - audits help you identify what control measures you need to protect your employees and visitors. Therefore, upholding the Health & Safety performance of your company. 
  • Ensures compliance with Health & Safety regulations: Carrying out audits can help a company to further comply with relevant Health & Safety legislation. This is because you’ll be able to identify areas of non-compliance. This helps you to resolve issues quickly and ultimately, protects your company from fines and potential legal claims.
  • Reduces the risk of litigation: By addressing potential hazards, audits help to reduce the risk of litigation, such as legal claims. This helps a business save time, money, and helps to enhance its reputation.
  • Improves employee morale: Carrying out Health & Safety audits will improve employee morale as they will feel safe and secure in their workplace.
  • Protects employees from injury: Carrying out a Health & Safety audit will protect your employees from potential risks and injury. You could face financial penalties if someone is injured due to you having a poor Health & Safety audit system.

How often should Health & Safety audits be carried out?

No legislation states how often a Health & Safety audit should be carried out. It depends on the size and risk factors of a particular business. For example, a chemical company should conduct them more regularly due to the dangerous materials they use.

But, it's good practice for all companies to carry out regular audits annually.

Check if your workplace meets essential safety standards

With SafeCheck, you can outsource your workplace Health & Safety audit to the UK's leading specialists - for only £295

How to conduct an internal Health & Safety audit

There are several steps a safety audit includes. By following them, you create a thorough safety audit system.

The steps include:

Stage 1: Documentation

The first stage of a Health & Safety audit is for senior management to gather any required documentation that the auditors may need when carrying it out.

This documentation can include:

  • Health & Safety policy statements.
  • Existing Health & Safety procedures and policies.
  • Health & Safety responsibilities and roles within the company.
  • Reports of any Health & Safety incidents.
  • Any reports from previous audits.

Stage 2: Evidence gathering

The second step of the audit process is arguably the most important - evidence gathering. This part can involve several stages, such as:

  • Interviewing employees: These interviews help reveal whether all members of your company are complying with your Health & Safety policies. They might also reveal details of serious incidents, or areas that need improvement.
  • Reviewing current safety measures: You should then review current safety measures to see whether they're being enforced by senior management.
  • Compliance with legislation: Ensure you assess the current Health & Safety policies to establish whether they comply with government legislation and HSE directives.
  • Reviewing dangerous machinery: Review dangerous machinery within your workplace to see if all safety protocols are being followed by operating staff, and that the machinery isn’t faulty.
  • Reviewing current documentation: Finally, you should review current documentation - such as accident books - to ensure employees are following the correct process.

Stage 3: Review results

The third stage of the process is reviewing and recording the results of the audit. The auditor will issue a report based on important areas, with comments and recommendations.

They will also make the company aware of any missing records or policies related to staff training and other safety issues.

Stage 4: Results and published

The last stage of the audit process is to publish the above report to all employees. All employees within a business have a right to know how their employer is looking after their health, safety, and wellbeing.

The report should include the following:

  • Comments, recommendations, and corrective actions.
  • Whether you meet regulatory requirements and relevant laws.
  • Proof of compliance.
  • How effective your employee training is.

Preparing for a Health & Safety audit

No matter whether you're looking to use an external or internal auditor, you should prepare for your audit properly.

An external auditor will have their own questions they’ll be looking to answer during the audit. But if you are conducting your own audit, you might want to create a checklist with questions that help evaluate your business’s Health & Safety. Examples of these are:

  • Is your Health & Safety policy up-to-date and available to all your employees?
  • Does your management team know their responsibilities when it comes to Health & Safety?
  • What's your process for reporting hazards?
  • How often are you carrying out your safety checks?

How Peninsula can help with your Health & Safety audit

With Peninsula's SafeCheck, a Health & Safety auditor will assess your workplace and uncover those critical hazards which put you and your staff at risk.

So, you don't need to plunge your own time, training, and money into carrying out your own audit. The UK's leading Health & Safety specialists will sort it for you.

After your audit, you’ll receive a detailed, user-friendly report that guides you through your next steps. Meaning you’ll know exactly how to protect your workforce and pass a Health & Safety inspection.

Plus, Peninsula can help with every aspect of your Health & Safety management. Including:

Our team offers expert advice on Health & Safety. We provide 24/7 Health & Safety advice which is available 365 days a year. 

Check if your workplace meets essential safety standards

With SafeCheck, you can outsource your workplace Health & Safety audit to the UK's leading specialists - for only £295


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