All business owners have a legal and ethical responsibility to ensure that health and safety standards are up to legal regulations and standards. Your employees, customers, as well as any visitors to your business premises such as passers-by and suppliers, should be able to enter your place of work without having to worry about any potential risks that they might face. Undertaking a regular safety audit through an external company that has specialists in that field, will help you to become fully aware of your current health and safety setup and give you a clear plan of how to improve moving forward.
For most businesses it is important to conduct a health and safety audit on an annual basis. It is down to you, as the business owner, however, if you feel it is practical and effective for your company to conduct an external health and safety audit on a more regular basis. It really depends on the type of industry you are working within and the dangers present. In between the regular health and safety audits conducted by an external, specialist, company, you should have a plan and process in place to conduct regular safety checks and inspections of key areas of the workplace to ensure that the findings from the most recent safety audit, and the recommendations that were created as a result of those findings, are being adhered to.
The Process of a Health and Safety Audit
A health and safety audit will look at three phases of information relating to your place of work. Firstly, all documents and records relating to health and safety will be thoroughly checked. These include maintenance records, method statements and risk assessments, incident reports, accident logs and all of your company policies and procedures.
Secondly, you employees and key personnel will be interviewed. These interviews will include staff from all areas of the business, from upper management figures, to those at the coalface dealing with suppliers and customers on a daily basis.
Thirdly, an audit will include some direct observations of the workplace in fully functioning mode. Any machinery and equipment will be checked, and working practice analysed to see if everything is in safe working order.
The Advantages of an External Safety Audit
It is a real benefit to hire an external auditor with experience in health and safety to come in and conduct an audit on your behalf. You will often find that the external safety auditor will be working with companies within your industry, so will understand the benchmark of safety that is expected of you.
Having a fresh, impartial pair of eyes on your working practices allows for a completely honesty appraisal of areas that require tweaking or amending in order to improve workplace safety standards. They will dig deeper and look below the surface to ensure that all areas are covered. It is this broad knowledge of health and safety that will stand your company in good stead.