With businesses across the country attempting to address a multitude of workplace challenges over the past 18 months, the importance of effective, compliant occupational health and safety practices has never been more important. Compliant OH&S practices across a workplace demonstrates a commitment to both staff and customer safety, meeting regulatory obligations, and a safe, effective working environment for all employees. However, with COVID workplace restrictions frequently changing, companies should be adopting a proactive approach to ensuring their OH&S obligations are met. Business’ can successfully address this issue by conducting periodic internal audits of their existing work health and safety management system, to ensure it is meeting new workplace OH&S obligations, and operating in a safe, efficient manner. This article will discuss some of the other benefits of conducting regular internal audits of the business’ Work Health and Safety Management System (WHSMS).
What an WHSMS internal audit achieves
A WHSMS internal audit promotes safety. This is done by ensuring that worksites are hazard and risk-free environments, that the business supports both the physical and mental wellbeing of staff, and that there are clear incident handling procedures in place¸ to ensure that any situation that may pose a risk to people is quickly addressed, and that corrective processes are implemented to mitigate the risk of recurrence. Further, regular WHSMS internal audits ensure that business’ are keeping up with their OH&S obligations. With several Australian states still experiencing lockdowns, workplace health and safety obligations are frequently changing, regarding important matters such as how many staff can be onsite at the one time, onsite COVID-Safe practices, and so on. WHSMS internal audits ensure that a business’ OH&S practices remain compliant, by auditing the entire workplace to ensure everything is operating in a safe, compliant manner.
In short, WHSMS internal audits work at promoting and demonstrating a commitment to safety and compliance, by ensuring that business’ work health and safety practices remain safe, compliant, and efficient.
It is a straight-forward process, where a business’ OH&S policies and procedures are scrutinised to ensure they are meeting their compliance obligations, with the auditors conducting a walkthrough audit of worksites, to ensure they are safe, hazard-free environments. Further, the auditors may speak to relevant staff members to discuss the OH&S practices of the business, what their role and responsibility is, what incident handling processes are in place, and so on.
The internal auditors will work to ensure that the business’ OH&S practices meet the practices outlined in the internationally recognised ISO 45001 OH&S Standards. ISO 45001 is a Business Management System, utilised by companies from around the world, which helps organisations develop straight-forward, effective work health and safety practices. By certifying to this standard, and conducting periodic internal audits to ensure the business’ practices continue to uphold their obligations, companies can develop an efficient, effective approach to effective work health and safety practices, through identifying potential OH&S risks, developing strategies for mitigating them, and ensuring that clear incident handling processes are in place for dealing with future incidents.
The WHSMS internal auditing process
To help business’ conduct work health and safety audits in a hassle-free, non-stressful manner, there is a clear WHSMS internal auditing process that companies can follow, to ensure that the audits are smoothly conducted, that disruptions to worksites are minimised, and that staff and customer safety is always upheld. The step-by-step process is as follows:
- Establish what areas of the operations need auditing: To avoid becoming overwhelmed, break down the internal auditing process into clear, distinctive sections, such as different operational departments. This helps the process run more smoothly, as the auditors can work towards clear, achievable goals.
- Establish a regular internal auditing plan: To ensure business’ are always up to date with their OH&S obligations, internal audits should be conducted at routine intervals. The time between audits can depend on factors such as the business’ industry, number of staff onsite, operational challenges it is facing, and so on. By establishing a routine internal auditing plan, companies will be in an effective position to ensure their OH&S obligations are always met.
- Perform the audit and chart findings: It is crucial that there is a procedure in place for how all internal audits are to be conducted, to ensure consistency across audits, that they are undertaken in COVID-Safe conditions, that staff disruption is minimised, and so on. The findings should be compared against the ISO 45001 Standards, the business’ OH&S obligations, and previous findings, to ensure that the business’ commitment to compliant OH&S practices is upheld.
- Develop a corrective action plan: If the internal audit discovers that an area of the business is not meeting its OH&S obligations then swift corrective action needs to be taken to address the issue and develop mitigative processes to minimise the chance of recurrence.
Contact our OH&S specialists for more information
Although the current business environment is unstable, companies can maximise their chances of both surviving and thriving in this challenging situation by conducting routine WHSMS internal audits. If reading this article has impelled you to find out more about this process, and how it can be applied across your operations to help it meet the above goals, then please contact our OH&S specialist consultants today by filling out this simple contact us form, or by phone on 1300 802 163, for a brief, obligation-free consultation.
All you need to do is tell them about your business and some of the OH&S challenges it has faced in the past, and is currently dealing with, and they can clearly discuss with you how this process can help your organisation achieve its goals in a hassle-free, easy manner. That doesn’t sound like a risky prospect, does it?
Please click here to learn more about how workplace safety and productivity go together.