An employer is responsible for a lot more than keeping the business profitable; they’re responsible for the safety of everyone they employ. Therefore, the business must take every precaution to provide a safe environment for employees and visitors by enacting comprehensive safety policies and procedures.
Health, Safety, and Environmental (HSE) audits are vital to ensure that the policies effectively protect everyone in the workplace. For example, 4,113 preventable injury-related deaths in the United States alone, along with roughly 4,000,000 injuries requiring consulting a medical professional in 2020. These figures do not include COVID-19 related injuries or deaths.
HSE audits are crucial for your business. You are doing everything possible to protect your employees, but you’re also protecting your business. Injuries may result in lawsuits, and proving your regularly-audited safety processes and documented compliance may prevent hefty fines or worse.
It’s time to explore why you should have regular HSE audits and the common elements of an effective audit. Read on to discover why these audits are essential for your business.
Why Should You Have a Health, Safety, and Environmental (HSE) Audit?
HSE audits rigorously examine everything an organization is doing to protect its workers. Process HSA audits are required for most industries, although this may vary based on your region. An external auditor usually needs to complete the audits annually to remain compliant.
A typical HSE audit will include:
- Ensuring that the organization has suitable health and safety policies and processes, including detailed guidelines for any harmful substances found in the workplace
- Examining if these policies and processes are being followed, which includes examining data from regular inspections and other audits
- Conducting interviews with managers, department heads, and workers. Workers often have priceless insights into the actual working conditions of the workplace.
The Three Common Elements of a Thorough HSE Audit
Not every HSE audit is the same. For example, some audits are focused on management, while others are focused on safety processes. Depending on the audit, you can expect one or more of the following elements.
1. HSE Management and Site Compliance Audit
Are documented safety processes and procedures actually implemented and evaluated regularly? This type of audit focuses on overall site compliance with stated policies and assessing management.
Are different levels of management communicating effectively regarding safety policies and workplace injuries? How is management implementing stated policies?
An auditor will examine proper signage, enforcement of safety standards (such as wearing hardhats on the floor), and management’s prompt follow-up to any injuries.
This type of audit can automatically trigger additional audits if deficiencies are discovered. Preparing for an HSE management and site compliance audit involves regularly documenting every compliance-related procedure and management’s responses to injury reports.
2. HSE Plan Audit
Is the organization’s HSE plan accurately addressing every aspect that’s required? This type of audit will examine contingency planning, the effectiveness of sub planning units, and emergency planning.
An HSE plan audit will often accompany an HSE management audit but is not explicitly included. Preparing for this type of audit involves getting all of your documentation in order and ensuring that all safety personnel are in position and carrying out their duties.
3. Process and Product HSE Audit
Technically two distinct types of audits, process, and product audits, are often conducted together. A process audit examines each specific safety process, while a product audit focuses on the final product to ensure both meet all objectives of an HSE plan.
Some industries don’t require product HSE audits, but most require process HSE audits. Preparing for this type of audit ensures that your company regularly examines its safety policies and documents that they’re being followed and updated as needed.
Should You Have an Internal or External Audit?
You can sometimes conduct HSE audits internally to remain in compliance, but external audits are the gold standard. Depending on your region, you may be required to have an external company conduct the audit. However, regularly conducting internal audits and robust documentation of those audits can be extremely helpful for external audits.
monitorQA is a unified platform that brings everything together in one central application, simplifying how you approach HSE audits. In addition, our mobile-first platform includes a robust suite of tools that organizations across all industries can use to fully document their implementation of safety policies and procedures, including documenting individual inspections.
Start your free trial today to discover how our platform can help you maintain compliance.