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What to Include in Your WHS Audit: A Guide for Employers

WHS AuditPut simply, a WHS audit is an assessment of the current state of workplace safety within an organisation. It can be done to determine how well a company complies with:

  • WHS legislation (WHS Act and Regulations)
  • Internal requirements (WHS management systems and risk management performance criteria)
  • External standards (e.g. client-based or ISO standards – view at SAI Global)

A WHS audit shouldn’t only be a one-time check but rather a continuous process throughout your company’s operations. It helps you control the risk factors in your work environment and get rid of any unsafe practices or conditions that may lead to accidents or other injuries.

It can be quite overwhelming trying to conduct it on your own. Here are some pointers on what should be included in a WHS audit in Australia:

Scope, objectives and methodology of WHS audits in Australia

The WHS audit is a snapshot in time of how well safety is being managed and crucially identifies where deficiencies exist so they can be addressed. It can be done for a specific project (such as the construction of a new building), or it can be done as part of a company’s overall health and safety management.

Depending on the type of work, the WHS audit will usually involve a full or partial inspection of the work area and a review of the worker’s health and safety policies, procedures, or other relevant safety paperwork. The level of detail will depend on the type of work being done and the potential hazards. It should include an assessment of the potential hazards in the work area and an evaluation of the controls in place to reduce or eliminate those hazards. Also, be sure to include an evaluation of the effectiveness of those controls. The level of detail will depend on the potential hazards and the controls in place in the work area.

The objectives for the safety audit will depend on the work being done and the type of workers being employed. They can also depend on the type of equipment being used and any health and safety laws and regulations applicable in the work area.

Who is the WHS Auditor and who else should be involved?

To be effective and ensure effective consultation, there should be collaboration and communication between relevant stakeholders. The team will usually only consist of a few individuals; however, it may involve more people depending on the scope and objectives. Ideally, the following stakeholders should be involved and consulted:

  • The owner of the company or their representative
  • The workers involved in the work or their health and safety representative
  • The managers and supervisors of the workers in the work area
  • The safety officer or safety manager of the company

Many RTOs offer courses on how to become a WHS auditor, for example Global Mark – Lead Auditor Course.

What are WHS audit checklists?

WHS audit checklists are vital for to ensure the auditing process is systematic and comprehensive. A checklist will help you keep track of what areas of your business you need to check, as well as forming the basis of the audit report and record keeping. It will guide you in assessing the level of risk in your work environment and may recommend what controls you need to put in place to reduce that risk.

WHS Audit ChecklistGenerally, a WHS audit checklist will include:

  • The date
  • The work area/s, methodology and scope of the audit
  • The audit criteria and audit process
  • Who is part of the auditing team (WHS auditors)
  • A list of the checks that are being conducted, for example:
  • Is PPE being worn
  • Are relevant risk controls in place
  • Are safety procedures documented, available, and being followed
  • Are workers engaging in unsafe behaviors
  • Are adequate housekeeping procedures in place
  • Are permit systems in use
  • Are first aid and emergency equipment available and fit for use
  • Recommended actions / comments
  • Date for close-out of recommended actions
  • Sign-off for auditor/s
  • Is PPE being worn
  • Are relevant risk controls in place
  • Are work health safety procedures documented, available, and being followed
  • Are workers engaging in unsafe behaviors
  • Are adequate housekeeping procedures in place
  • Are permit systems in use
  • Are first aid and emergency equipment available and fit for use

You can create your own checklist depending on the type of work being done, or you can use a checklist provided by a regulatory agency. For example, WHSQ provides an internal audit checklist. Or you can use or purchase one from https://www.safetychampion.com.au/.

Record keeping and due diligence in your organisation

WHS AuditsA WHS audit shouldn’t only be used as an assessment tool but also as an evaluation of your progress. It helps you track your progress in meeting your objectives and goals as an employer. This way, you can easily see where you stand in terms of improving your safety practices and how much progress you’ve made. For the best outcome, you should have a record of your audit to help review the audit findings, assess the effectiveness of your actions, and track any changes that need to be made. This report should be filed and managed in accordance with your company’s records management procedure and may include the audit findings along with an action plan on how to ensure future conformance to workplace health requirements.

You don’t have to conduct an audit annually. The frequency of the audits is entirely up to you and depending on your work environment, you may need to conduct audits anywhere from weekly to yearly (or longer). In high-risk industries, it is usually advisable to conduct audits more frequently than in lower-risk industries.

How often should a WHS audit be done?

The frequency of workplace health and safety (WHS) audits depends on a variety of factors, such as the size and complexity of your organization, the nature of your operations, and any regulatory requirements that may apply. In general, it is recommended that WHS audits be conducted at least once per year to ensure ongoing compliance with relevant regulations and standards. However, some organizations may need to conduct more frequent or more comprehensive audits based on their specific needs and circumstances. It is important to work with a qualified WHS auditor or consultant to determine the appropriate frequency and scope of your audit program, taking into account all relevant factors and ensuring that your organization remains in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

Happy auditing!

A WHS audit is an essential part of any company’s health and safety management system. Without it, there is no accurate way to tell whether the company is meeting legislative requirements, internal policies or procedures, or contractual WHS requirements. Conducting audits is a vital part of any WHS management system and can require specialist input from WHS professionals.

If you need further assistance, visit our WHS compliance audit webpage.

 

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