By Joanna Weekes
As part of your workplace’s safety management system, you need to have procedures in place to make sure there are checks scheduled and conducted to assess safety measures and identify gaps before they result in injury, illness or damage to anybody in your workplace.
These procedures will involve audits, inspections and reviews to ensure that all aspects of the workplace are assessed for health and safety hazards and risks.
It is recommended that you aim to have:
- regular workplace inspections, e.g. daily or weekly;
- regular monitoring of safety practices and procedures by management, e.g. weekly or monthly;
- regular audits to verify that specific elements of the safety management system are working as intended, e.g. every 3 months; and
- annual audits of the safety management system as a whole.
Additionally, you should aim to have informal workplace inspections as often as your business can manage.
How often you should conduct audits, inspections and reviews in your workplace will also depend on:
- the degree of risk associated with the activities carried out in the operation of your business, i.e. scheduled checks may increase significantly for higher-risk industries such as construction, mining, forestry and fishing;
- management commitment to continuous improvement in health and safety performance; and
- whether there is a reason to believe that health and safety requirements are not being met.
If you find that incident frequency or accident rates (including near misses) are increasing (or not always being recorded) then inspections are not occurring on time or corrective actions are not being completed properly and therefore, the frequency of checks needs to increase.
On the other hand, if all scheduled health and safety activities are being completed in accordance with the safety management system requirements and the number and severity of incidents is reducing, then the frequency of audits, inspections and reviews can be reduced.
Remember, if you are a subscriber to the Health & Safety Handbook, more information on this topic can be found in chapter A2 Audits, Inspections and Reviews.
The next Health & Safety Bulletin will look at the documentation requirements involved with carrying out safety audits, inspections and reviews in your workplace so look out for that in our next bulletin.