What Do Employers Need To Know About Health & Safety Audits At Work

What Do Employers Need To Know About Health & Safety Audits At Work

author

James Rowland

Commercial Director James leads Account Management, Sales and Marketing at Neathouse Partners.

Date

28 March 2023

Updated

17 July 2024
4 min read
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As an employer, you have a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy working environment for your employees. A simple way to ensure that your workplace is meeting health and safety standards is to conduct Health & Safety Audits. These audits can be a valuable tool in identifying potential hazards, improving safety practices, and ensuring compliance with legal requirements.

Read on to understand what employers need to know about Health & Safety Audits at work, including what they are, why they are important, and how to conduct them effectively.

What Is A Health & Safety Audit?

A Health & Safety Audit is a systematic examination of a workplace's health and safety practices, policies, procedures, and facilities to assess compliance with legal requirements and identify areas for improvement. The purpose of a Health & Safety Audit is to ensure that the workplace is safe and healthy for employees, contractors, visitors, and anyone else who may be affected by the workplace's activities.

Who Needs To Conduct A H&S Audit At Work?

The need for a Health & Safety Audit will depend on the size and complexity of the workplace, the nature of the work activities, and the potential risks involved. Generally, any employer who has five or more employees must have a written health and safety policy, and this policy may include provisions for conducting Health & Safety Audits.

Health & Safety Audits can be conducted internally by the employer or by an external auditor, and they may cover a range of areas, such as risk assessments, accident reporting, emergency procedures, training, and personal protective equipment (PPE). The audit will typically result in a report that identifies any non-compliance issues and recommends actions to address them.

Tips To Conduct H&S Audits Effectively

There are guides and best practice procedures available to view on the auditing and reporting pages of HSE. Here is a summary of key things employers should know regarding health and safety audits at work so they can be conducted effectively;

Understand the Purpose and Benefits of Health and Safety Audits

The audits are intended to assess the effectiveness of an organisation's health and safety management system. The primary purpose is to identify areas of weakness or non-compliance and recommend actions to improve safety performance. A well-executed audit can also reduce the risk of accidents, injuries, and ill health, leading to improved employee morale, reduced absenteeism, and better business performance.

Identify the Right Auditor

Employers should appoint a competent and experienced auditor to conduct the audit. The auditor should be independent, and objective, and know the relevant health and safety legislation, regulations, and industry best practices. It is essential to select an auditor who is familiar with the work activities and hazards associated with the organisation.

Plan the Audit

The employer should plan the audit, including the scope, objectives, and methodology. The audit should cover all aspects of the organisation's health and safety management system, including policies, procedures, risk assessments, training, and communication. The audit plan should also identify the audit team, audit schedule, and communication channels.

Communicate with Employees

It is important to involve employees in the audit process. They can provide valuable insights into the hazards and risks associated with their work activities, and the effectiveness of the organisation's health and safety management system. Employers should communicate with employees about the audit and its purpose, and provide opportunities for them to participate and provide feedback.

Follow Up and Implement Recommendations

After the audit, employers should review the findings and recommendations and develop an action plan to address any identified deficiencies. The action plan should include clear responsibilities, timelines, and resources required for implementation. Progress should be monitored as well as evaluating the effectiveness of the actions taken.

Why Are Health And Safety Audits Important?

Why Are Health And Safety Audits Important

Health and Safety Audits are important because they help to ensure that workplaces are safe and healthy for employees, contractors, visitors, and anyone else who may be affected by their activities. By identifying potential hazards and areas for improvement, Health & Safety Audits can help to prevent accidents, injuries, and ill health, as well as minimise the financial and reputation costs associated with workplace incidents.

What Does The Law Say About H&S Audits At Work?

The UK has various laws and regulations that require Health & Safety Audits to be conducted in workplaces to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations. Here are some of the key legislations employers need to be aware of:

  1. Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 - This is the primary legislation governing workplace health and safety in the UK. It requires employers to provide a safe working environment for their employees and to take reasonable steps to ensure their health, safety, and welfare.
  2. Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 - These regulations require employers to conduct regular risk assessments to identify potential hazards in the workplace and take steps to control or eliminate them. They also require employers to have a written health and safety policy and to ensure that their employees receive adequate training and instruction.
  3. The Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 - These regulations require employers to consult with their employees on health and safety matters, including the conduct of health and safety audits.
  4. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) - These regulations require employers to conduct a COSHH assessment to identify and control hazardous substances in the workplace. This may involve a health and safety audit.
  5. The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 - These regulations apply to construction projects and require the client to ensure that a health and safety audit is carried out before construction work begins.

In addition to these laws and regulations, there are various codes of practice and guidance documents published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that provide advice on the conduct of health and safety audits. These include the HSE's guidance on "Health and safety management systems" and "Health and safety auditing".

Summary

Health & Safety Audits are a valuable tool that helps to ensure that the workplace is safe and healthy for employees, contractors, visitors, and anyone else who may be affected by the workplace's activities. By engaging in regular H&S audits, employers demonstrate their commitment to health and safety, comply with legal requirements, and improve their overall management systems.

Next Steps

If you would like support with managing and understanding your employer's responsibilities towards your workforce when it comes to Health & Safety audit requirements, please call 01244 893776 to speak to one of our team.

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