As a business owner, to comply with health and safety regulations, you are obliged to conduct regular audits of your business to help identify health and safety risks and consider ways of improving your safety systems.

An audit is a documented process for reviewing a health and safety system, program or practice to determine whether it complies with legislative requirements, established guidelines and the best practice in health and safety.

The purpose of conducting audits is to identify and continuously improve your businesses health and safety procedures by identifying potential risks. Audits should be conducted professionally and strict where necessary, otherwise you may believe your business is health and safety compliant – when really it isn’t. Health and safety audits are a good way to ensure that your business is complying with the latest health and safety legislation and that all your employees and contractors are safe within the workplace.

Audits can be conducted by a fully trained employee, although it is recommended to outsource a third party to conduct the audit as they will have specialist knowledge, as well as providing an independent perspective on your business’s health and safety requirements. It’s often beneficial to outsource, as the third party will not be bias and will provide you a fully detailed report.

When outsourcing a third party it is essential to ensure they are fully qualified and that they do have knowledge of the industry you work in.

Audits are usually conducted annually and often require a significant amount of work. Depending on the type of your workplace, you may need to consider conducting three different audits; Compliance audits, Risk-specific audits and Management system audits.

A compliance audit is where you will assess the effectiveness of your health and safety practices within your business, and deciding whether they comply with legislative standards. This is a comprehensive review of your adherence to regulatory guidelines, that evaluates the strength thoroughness of compliance preparations, your security policies and risk management procedures.

Risk-specific audits consist of addressing the risks that are directly relevant to your business, for example, if your job requires working from heights, your audit will reveal all possible risks and hazards associated. Risk- specific audits focus more on the efficiency of your procedures in controlling a specific risk and how to reduce the likeliness of it occurring.

When conducting a management system audit, you will be looking at the overall safety systems of your business. This may include; organisational structures, planned activities, procedures and responsibilities. For example, for planned activities, if you work in the construction industry, you are required to make site visits, often with other employees – with management system audits in place, you are able to safely plan and delegate responsibilities to employees in order to comply with health and safety while out of your workplace.

It’s important to document the findings of your audits once they have been conducted, this way you can always reflect on how you can improve when complying with legislations and seeing where improvements can be made. As well as ensuring your workplace is always applying its best practice in health and safety, by documenting your findings, you are also showing that you are committed to a continuous improvement of health and safety in your workplace.

At Safety Forward, our health and safety consultants will ensure that a health and safety audit carried out on your business allows you peace of mind that your company is up to standard. Our audits will identify areas for improvement as well as highlighting positive activities within your organisation. Speak to us today on 0330 107 0165 or email us at info@safetyforward.co.uk.