HEALTH AND SAFETY – Reviews and audits

2 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineSeptember 21, 2020

In the last month or so I have been through a lot of reviews and audits of health and safety systems. Primarily, I was the auditor or the reviewer. However, I also supported two of our clients as they underwent audit by another organisation. What‘s the difference? A review is a more informal look at what has been happening in the health and safety system of the organisation. Reviews tend to be done internally, often to reassure senior management that the organisation is performing well. The criteria will vary depending on what the reviewer is looking for. Examples may include how many safety meetings have been run and who attended, how many site reviews were completed and how many non-conformances were raised and addressed, or how many accidents, incidents and near misses have been reported. An audit is more structured against a specific standard. It is generally undertaken by an expert in the field and offers a higher level of assurance about the health and safety performance of the organisation. Again, the auditor will review the processes that are relevant to that audit.

This may be a full system or aspects of it. The auditor will normally inspect the work in progress and talk to workers to gain a full understanding of the organisation. Both can provide important information about what has happened and what or how the organisation has responded. They should be used as learning tools, enabling the organisation to improve and grow its health and safety culture. Reviews should be undertaken regularly to support management‘s knowledge and practice of health and safety. They should be a standard part of the health and safety management system. Audits are completed for several reasons. They provide information for senior management, they assess compliance standards, and they allow organisations to benchmark themselves against similar businesses. Quite often, audits are undertaken to satisfy client requirements. Regardless of the reason, all health and safety management systems should be assessed at regular intervals. Knowing how well it is working, or not, can only be beneficial.