Dealing with Occupational Safety and Health Audits, an international perspective

Herein this page presents some advise for the implementation of Occupational Health and Safety audits. The information reflects the inputs from public trust accredited exclusive professional team members, which includes auditors, OH&S and EH&S specialists, and legal advisors. This information considers Occupational Health and Safety issues from a global perspective (the herein information applies as well to environmental external auditing). Further, see the most frequent citation list by Occupational Health and Safety Inspectors.

Preparing for an Audit / Inspection:

  • Review that your records are accessible thus assure adherence to the requirements set forth by internationally recognized and generally accepted benchmarks... and most definteley applicable laws and regulations, as IRGA OSHMS are management tools to help in adherence.
  • Ascertain that your organization has addressed issues relevant to planning, acting, and mitigation in the event of an emergency, catastrophe, and for all facing an "emergency".
  • Perform an internal audit off your managerial system, as deemed necessary, with the intent to prepare the organization for external audits.
  • Brief your internal auditors, as they may guide external auditors / specialists.
  • Requirements set forth for marking, labeling, visual indications, otherwise providing information to personnel and visitors has been attended / addressed.
  • Confirm that there will be a closing meeting... when, what, where...
  • List the participants to both opening and closing meetings (internal and external delegates).

During the Realization of the Audit (planned audits):

  • An opening meeting is best to initiate external audits (2nd or 3rd party) where and when confirm the scope and criteria - do not assume, and ascertain that the auditors are whom they represent and ask for objective evidence.
  • During the audit process a guide accompany the external auditor at all times. Consider the use of a video camera if the external inspector / auditor indicates (or if the auditor him/her self takes a picture - take a picture of the auditor taking the picture and then from the same point take a picture of what was captured). If the legal and regulatory frame allows, ask the auditor inspector for copies of the video or photos taken.
  • To the permissible extent, take corrective action and a commitment to investigate and tackle the cause of an observation. Do not argue with external auditors.
  • Consider, but not imperative in some world regions, to inform on requested and provided documents and records to external auditors / inspectors. 
  • On the field, have forms, for external auditor / inspector to sign on physical samples (liquid, air, objects...) take.
  • Unplanned / Surprise Audits:

    Consider the following, prior to allowing an individual (claiming) to be an auditor / inspector; Is there a warrant or legal bounded reason for their presence, and confirm / clarify the reason for their visit? When and as deemed necessary, notify your Regulatory body and contact person. Contact you legal advisor / counselor. In many world regions surprise audits are warrant by a complaints deriving from within the organization or external.

At Closing and Afterward:

  • A closing meeting its expected, if not request that there be a closing meeting
  • Review issues and observations (stated and not stated), and act on necessary corrections.
  • Retain records of information and evidence provided to external inspector / auditor
  • Reiterate that information provided and observations are confidential and proprietary of the audited organizations.
  • Observation, non conformance and citations are for informing internal personnel.
  • Confirm dates for corrective actions. If obtaining an agreement consider filling notification as the regulatory / legal frame allows.

Last but not least and of high importance:

    Be aware that in certain world regions, a safety and health audit may jeopardize the operation of your business. This happens, when the reporting is for mere conformity and billing leading onto a state of complacency.

Listing the Most Frequent Citations (global):

  1. Internal communication on hazards
  2. Equipment frequently used in poor safe operational condition
  3. Control of energy lockouts
  4. Respiratory protection
  5. Usage of machinery, general requirements
  6. Practices and methods for wiring (temporary and permanent), electrical designs
  7. Mechanical power presses
  8. Mechanical transmission array
  9. Noise levels and exposure protection
  10. Use of personal protective equipment / gear
  11. Powered vehicles, safety concerns  -  noise and pollutants
  12. Floor and walls guarding
  13. Confined spaces permits, training and practices
  14. Abrasive wheel machinery
  15. Usage of (VOCs) paint, spray finishing and safeguard of flammable



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