Organisations need to monitor their health and safety performance to assess how well they are controlling risks. A low accident rate is not necessarily a sign that all risks are being managed, and therefore measures of performance need to be more wide ranging. Measuring health and safety performance is an important way of identifying where improvements are required and to prioritise action.
Health and safety inspections generally involve looking for physical evidence of how well health and safety is being managed. A general inspection of premises is likely to involve people looking at the condition of premises, floors, passages, stairs, lighting, welfare and first aid facilities. Inspections of higher risk items need to be more specific, and are often required by legislation. These may include lifting equipment, scaffolds, excavations and local exhaust ventilation. To be effective, inspections need to be planned properly and carried out frequently. Results of inspections need to be reviewed periodically to identify any common features and trends.
A health and safety audit is a formalised method of investigating a systems performance. It is the structured process of collecting independent information on the efficiency, effectiveness and reliability of the total health and safety management systems and drawing up plans for corrective action.
There are two main types of audit. A systems audit checks that necessary systems are in place, comply with legislation, guidance and good practice and are generally appropriate for the level of risk. A compliance audit checks that the systems are being used and result in appropriate workplace precautions.