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4 Keys to a Solid Safety Audit and Inspection Program

Toby Graham /

When was the last time you took a long, honest look at your environment, health, and safety program? If it’s been a while, or you can’t remember—or if you’ve never conducted a safety inspection or audit before—it’s time to get to work. By evaluating your facilities, people, and processes, you’ll make your workplace a whole lot safer and more efficient.

You’ll also minimize your regulatory and legal risks. Audits and inspections ensure you stay 10 steps ahead of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the other federal and state authorities just waiting to hit you with citations and penalties.

If you find the prospect of audits and inspections overwhelming, you’re not alone. After all, there’s a reason organizations don’t conduct them as often as they should. So let’s make this as simple and painless as possible by breaking audits and inspections down into manageable pieces. These are the 4 basic components that, when combined, form a comprehensive assessment of your EHS program.

Four Keys to an

Audit and Inspection Program

Regulatory
Audit

Regulatory Audit

Initial checks for issues that would likely result in injuries and penalties if not addressed.

Facility
Inspection

Facility Inspection

Assessments of the organization’s physical premises, teams, and workforce behaviors.

Accident
Investigation

Accident Investigation

Everything the organization does following a workforce health or safety incident.

Safety
Committee
Meeting

Safety Committee Meeting

The group of decision-makers who meet regularly to discuss audit and inspection findings and make necessary safety program changes.

The First Piece

The Regulatory Audit

What it is:

Initial checks for issues that would likely result in injuries and penalties if not addressed.

What it covers:

  • OSHA compliance
  • EPA compliance
  • DOT compliance
  • NFPA compliance
  • Compliance with state and local regulatory requirements

Read the article:

Examples of questions an auditor should ask:

  • Are all employees trained properly?
  • What are your safety policies, and are employees actually following them?
  • Is any written compliance program in place?
  • Have you conducted a hazard assessment?
  • What is the condition of personal protective equipment?
  • What are your chemical storage procedures?
  • Do you have all required hazardous materials paperwork?
  • What are your machine guarding (AKA Lockout/Tagout) procedures?
  • What are your respiratory protection procedures?
  • Are any fall hazards present in the workplace?
  • What are your shipping, warehousing, and transportation procedures?
  • Are sprinkler systems in good working order?
  • Is all necessary safety signage in place?

The Second Piece

Facility Inspection

What it is:

Assessments of the organization’s physical premises, teams, and workforce behaviors.

What it covers:

  • Department-specific regulatory compliance
  • Department-specific safety hazards
  • Equipment and machinery
  • Documents
  • Employee behaviors

Read the article:

Examples of questions an inspector should ask:

  • What is the layout of your facilities?
  • Are your ladders in good condition?
  • How about your forklifts?
  • Have you tested your alarms recently?
  • Where are your eyewash stations?
  • How about your fire extinguishers?
  • What’s the condition of walking and working surfaces?
  • Does anything require maintenance?
  • Are employees trained to use the tools they’re using, and are they using their tools safely?
  • How are employees performing their jobs?
  • Do employees have any feedback about how to improve the EHS program?

The Third Piece

Accident Investigation

What it is:

Everything the organization does following a workforce health or safety incident.

What it covers:

  • workplace accidents
  • employee injuries
  • incident response
  • preventive measures
  • corrective measures
  • workplace safety trends

Read the article:

Examples of questions an auditor should ask:

  • How many safety accidents have occurred recently?
  • What is the nature of those accidents?
  • What are your accident response procedures?
  • Which employee or employees are responsible for gathering the details, documenting accidents, and following up?
  • Is there a standard, repeatable accident response process in place?
  • Are accidents addressed and documented in a timely manner?
  • Why are accidents happening? What are the root causes?
  • What kinds of accidents occur most often?
  • What are the costs of accidents in the workplace?
  • What can be done to prevent accidents in the future? What organizational practices and operating procedures need to change?

The Fourth Piece

Safety Committee Meetings

What it is:

Everything the organization does following a workforce health or safety incident.

What it covers:

  • workplace accidents
  • employee injuries
  • incident response
  • preventive measures
  • corrective measures
  • workplace safety trends

Read the article:

Examples of questions an auditor should ask:

  • How many safety accidents have occurred recently?
  • What is the nature of those accidents?
  • What are your accident response procedures?
  • Which employee or employees are responsible for gathering the details, documenting accidents, and following up?
  • Is there a standard, repeatable accident response process in place?
  • Are accidents addressed and documented in a timely manner?
  • Why are accidents happening? What are the root causes?
  • What kinds of accidents occur most often?
  • What are the costs of accidents in the workplace?
  • What can be done to prevent accidents in the future? What organizational practices and operating procedures need to change?

We’ll level with you—audits and inspections can be a lot of work.

But they’re easier, cheaper, and a whole lot less stressful than dealing with accidents, losses, penalties, legal claims, workforce turnover, and the myriad other adverse consequences of a poor EHS program.

Effective audits and inspections not only save lives, but also tend to…

  • lower workers’ compensation costs,
  • prevent citations and fines, and
  • boost workforce productivity and retention.

Learn more.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do any of this alone. KPA’s workplace safety experts are available on-demand—on-site or remotely—to conduct audits and inspections, or guide you through the process. Contact an expert.

Use KPA digital audit and inspection tools to uncover issues and address them with corrective and preventive actions before an incident occurs. Tailor your EHS inspections to address the areas of risk specific to your facilities.

 
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