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How to Select a Safety Auditor

You can be a big or small organisation. You can have a high risk or low risk work environment. However, every organisation is required to make sure that it has solid health and safety practices developed and in place.

Safety auditing is a component of safety management that subjects the activities associated with the organisation to be critically evaluated to a set of standards. An audit can include a number of components of the total system, for example, safety policy, change management, safety management systems as one, operating processes, emergency measures, etc. The goal is to highlight the strengths and weaknesses, to spot aspects of non-tolerable risk and also develop procedures to rectify the weak points and work towards improvement.

Successful auditing carries a substantial effect on lowering rates associated with accidents, injuries, ill health, litigation costs, worker’s compensation costs and enhancing productivity.

Safety audits are generally conducted by a single person or a group of people who are capable (completely qualified, experienced and trained) and have a reasonable level of independence and are generally external either from the site or business that is being audited.

There are many different types of audits that can be conducted such as specific safety management systems and standards, legislation, construction completion, and even internal policies and procedures.

The safety auditor must have the experience to ensure an organisation’s safety management system is being effectively implemented in order to manage the risk of accidents and ill health occurring in the workplace.

Unfortunately, there are some who conduct safety audits, which attend your business site, make a lot of noise, make a mess and leave you with a headache and confusion to clear up with no direction on moving forward. This type of auditor will come in no use for you and in the auditing, industry are known as seagulls. Often we are called in when businesses require clarification of what has just happened when they have engaged this type of auditor.

Therefore, selecting the appropriate auditor, and understanding what the audit will cover and how the auditor will conduct themselves is very important for any organisation.

A good safety auditor looks into any existing safety plans, as well what has already been achieved, and what is currently being worked on. They will respect and abide by all your safety rules whilst on site. They will advise before attending your site what access they need to what documentation, people and other resources to conduct the audit successfully.

They will request to talk to workers and conduct a site inspection or walk around to get a feel of the processes, the culture and the people working in the organisation. They will ask lots of questions about safety processes and report hazards to you if they see any during their visit. They will also work with you to develop an action plan for any areas or weaknesses. They will also compliment you on the areas in safety that you are doing well in.

They will conduct the audit to specific safety management systems standards such as Australian Standards, legislation and even internal policies and procedures.

When selecting a safety auditor, find someone who:

  • Demonstrates they have the qualifications to conduct the particular audit you require.
  • Advises you of what standards they will be auditing to and asks if you have other standards you wish to be also covered in the audit.
  • Advises on if they will be conducting a desktop audit, need to interview staff or conduct a site inspection.
  • Provides you with an overview of strengths and weaknesses to management prior to leaving the site.
  • Works with you to develop an action plan of any non-conformances to assist with moving forward.
  • Advises if they are certified to provide a compliance statement.
  • Advises of how long the audit will take and when you can expect your report.

Now you are equipped with the knowledge of what to look for in a good safety auditor. Hopefully this you will help you so you don’t engage a seagull to conduct your next safety audit.

The Topic of Tagging and Testing

Recently, we had a client ask about the tagging and testing requirements under the new NSW WHS Legislation as it has confused them as to what is now required to ensure they are in compliance.

In summary, the WHS Regulations 2011 Clause 150 (1) states that a PCBU at a workplace must ensure that electrical equipment is regularly inspected and tested by a competent person if the electrical equipment is:

  • Supplied with electrical through an electrical socket out let; and
  • Used in an environment which the normal use of the electrical equipment exposes the equipment to conditions that are likely to result in damage to it or reduce its expected life span. This includes conditions that involve exposure to moisture, heat, vibration, mechanical damage, corrosive chemicals or dust.

It then goes onto to say, that any electrical equipment that is new and unused and that are not in exposed to conditions that are likely to cause it damage or reduce its life span, such as moisture, heat, vibration, mechanical danger corrosive chemicals or dust, are not required to comply to the above clause 150 (1) must be inspected for obvious damage before used.

This means that items that if they are in an office environment and not in an environment as described above in the first paragraph, they wouldn’t require regular inspection and testing. However, areas such as workshops, factories, maintenance or manufacturing areas would be considered to have exposed conditions to dust, heat vibrations etc., and would be required to be part of a tagging and testing program.

However, the legislation doesn’t discuss or direct us in the frequency of testing that is required. The Australian Standard for Tagging and Testing (AS/NZS 3760:2003 In-service safety inspection and testing of electrical equipment) is the document that advises of the frequency of testing required, depending on what type i.e. fully insulated, etc.