Do safety audits make your business safer?
Several studies confirm an association between safety auditing and better safety performance. For example, studies have found proficient auditing or focusing on auditing and good health surveillance associated with a lower lost-time injury (LTI) rate. Higher score for safety audits have also been associated with fewer injuries in studied organisations.
IMPORTANT: The most valued part of auditing is following up on corrective actions. You need to establish action plans to rectify or control deficiencies where an audit identified non-conformances.
When the audit criteria are set in advance (as per the proper audit procedures) auditees can prepare documented evidence of safety systems and workplace to pass the audit, thus undermining the integrity of the audit.
An important implication of this is that the conduct of an audit or inspection may not in itself be adequate as a leading indicator of health and safety performance.
CAUTION: Good audit results may be an unrealistic assurance of good performance.
Audits often focus on the safety system, rather than the control of hazards. Auditing alone will not address common causes of injuries (e.g. slips and trips). Other programs are needed for this.
We find that safety audits are of most benefit for the first audit, where the organisation may identify the most items for improvement.