Time to conduct a health and safety audit?

You may feel you’re managing health and safety appropriately, but is there something at the back of your mind that you’re not fully confident about? 

A system that isn’t fully compliant? A procedure that isn’t being executed properly? A policy or risk assessment that might be out of date? A missing safe system of work?

If you’re not sure how to conduct a health and safety audit yourself, our network of qualified Health & Safety Consultants can take on this important task for you. With our on-site auditing services, you can rest assured that risk is being appropriately managed at every level across your organisation.

Why conduct a health and safety audit?

Over time, even the best safety management systems may become less effective at reducing risk, and a periodic examination can help to identify any immediate or emerging issues before they result in harm. 

Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, employers have a legal duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and others who might be affected by their activities. In doing so, all health and safety matters and arrangements must be monitored, maintained and reviewed. 

Any changes in personnel or practices might change the risks that people are exposed to. For example, physical changes to the work environment, such as new machinery or equipment, may introduce an entirely new hazard, while a change in a core process, even a temporary one, could have critical health and safety implications that need to be properly evaluated, controlled and communicated to workers. Similarly, attempts to control new hazards, such as coronavirus, might have a knock-on effect on other areas of risk; for example, reduced staffing could mean a reduction in your first aid cover.

Health and safety issues, and indeed health and safety regulations, change over time, and complacency can be costly. For this reason, regular systematic review is essential.

A health and safety audit will ensure that your current arrangements are compliant and that any changes in the law are reflected in how you manage health and safety.

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So what exactly is a health and safety audit?

Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), defines a health and safety audit as:

“The collection of independent information on the efficiency, effectiveness and reliability of the total health and safety management system and drawing up plans for corrective action”.

The health and safety audit procedure may sound complex, but put simply, it is a process that examines your compliance with health and safety regulations. It also looks at how effective you are at practising what you preach. 

In this way, safety audits are comparable to financial audits  they evaluate compliance and performance.

Health and safety auditing aims

A health and safety audit would generally look to:
  • Assess whether current safety processes and procedures align with the law
  • Identify risks in the workplace (as well as the levels of those risks)
  • Reveal arrangement strengths and weaknesses
  • Pinpoint where and how to make improvements
  • Ensure health and safety resources are adequate and used effectively
  • Eliminate unsafe practices and hazards
  • Check that a proper performance review system is in place

Who should conduct a health and safety audit?

There are two ways to audit your organisation – you can use an external auditor or, if you’re comfortable that you know how to do a health and safety audit, you can take this on yourself internally.

In either case, the auditor needs to be independent of the activity or part of the organisation being audited. For this reason, it often makes sense to outsource this task to an external professional; not only will this ensure that the health and safety audit procedure is carried out correctly, but going it alone means a higher chance that errors and problems won’t be detected.

What’s more, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 say that employers must have health and safety assistance from ‘competent persons’.

In other words, whoever does the audit must have the training, skills, experience and knowledge required to make sure you’re complying with health and safety law.

Let us do the hard work for you

Periodic audits are an essential component of good health and safety management – not least because workplace injuries are, more often than not, the result of minor issues that could have been detected by an audit.

If you don’t have sufficient time or expertise to do a health and safety audit internally, let Ellis Whittam’s Health & Safety Team conduct a full examination for you.

Our IOSH qualified Health & Safety Auditors can accommodate your specific needs – they can support you remotely or can visit you on site to assess your premises, practices and policies.

Following the assessment, you will be provided with a detailed report outlining our observations and recommendations, including guidance on how to make any required improvements.       

Our Health & Safety specialists can also:

  • Provide ongoing support as one of your legally required ‘competent persons’;
  • Carry out risk assessments; and
  • Create your Health & Safety Policy.

Simple Health & Safety Audit Software

As part of our core Health & Safety service, our Health & Safety Software will revolutionise your approach to auditing.

Use the power of this intuitive tool to integrate with your organisation and pull your data into one risk status indicator. 

Compliance at the click of a button.

"Ellis Whittam is a valuable partner. The service is comprehensive and hands-on and I have no hesitation recommending them."

Chief Executive, English Rural Housing Association

Why Ellis Whittam?

Without a firm understanding of health and safety legislation and your duties under it, it can be easy to miss the mark. 

As well as 350 years’ combined experience of keeping clients safe, 100% of our Health & Safety Consultants are professionally qualified to a minimum of NEBOSH and 95% have achieved Grad IOSH status or higher, meaning we have the knowledge and technical expertise to uncomplicate compliance and keep you on the right track.

To discuss your specific needs and objectives and how our personalised service can help you to achieve them, call 0345 226 8393 today.

Health & Safety Guides

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How do I go about creating a Health & Safety Handbook?

As the purpose of producing a Health & Safety Handbook is to communicate your policies and procedures to employees, you should refer to your Health & Safety Policy as a starting point.

As a general structure, your Health & Safety Handbook should outline the potential health and safety hazards present in your workplace, explain the responsibilities placed on employees under Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974, and provide information on how specific tasks should be carried out.

Don’t have the time or expertise to produce this yourself? Ellis Whittam can create a Health & Safety Policy tailored to your business.

View our list of important information to include

Health and Safety Software

What does Health & Safety Software actually do?

If you’re tired of managing health and safety manually, struggling to keep on top of what’s required, and unsure whether you’re compliant, then our award-winning Health & Safety Software might be the solution you’re looking for.

This easy-to-use dashboard allows you to manage all of your responsibilities in one place and get a clear picture of how you’re performing. Functions include monitoring and controlling the actions identified in your risk assessment, recording and investigating accidents and incidents, and the ability to view your risk status in real time monitoring. You can also replace reams of paperwork with an online filing cabinet of important documentation, and receive automatic alerts when your certificates and documents are due for renewal.

Take a closer look

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How often do I need to conduct a risk assessment?

It is not sufficient to conduct a risk assessment of your premises when starting out and simply assume everything is working fine from then on.

It is good practice to review your risk assessments at least annually to account for changes within your workplace. Risk assessments must also be reviewed after accidents or near misses occur (as this would suggest something isn’t working as it should), whenever new equipment or substances are introduced (as this could lead to new hazards), and when significant changes in personnel or working practices occur (as this may mean there are gaps in knowledge or responsibility).

Read our advice on workplace risk assessments

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What are the benefits of outsourcing health and safety management?

Getting to grips with the complexities of health and safety legislation can be a real demand on your time and resources. If you don’t have the time or expertise, it can feel like an impossible task.

Outsourcing your health and safety management to Ellis Whittam takes the pressure off. Not only does our fixed-fee support offer a smart alternative to self-employed health and safety consultants who charge by the hour and a level of expertise that your in-house responsible person may lack, but we will even act as your legally-required competent person – giving you complete confidence in your compliance.

Find out what’s included in our fixed fee

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What does a Health & Safety Policy need to include?

Typically, a Health & Safety Policy is broken down into three areas:

  • A Policy Statement of Intent, which details your health and safety aims and objectives, how you intend to manage health and safety issues, and your health and safety performance targets.
  • The organisation of health and safety, which states the names, positions and duties of those within your organisation who have specific responsibility for health and safety.
  • Arrangements for health and safety, which contains your health and safety rules and procedures, risk assessments, fire and emergency arrangements, and information on instruction, training and supervision.

Director of Health & Safety Services

Nick Wilson

Health and safety should be a priority for any business but ensuring compliance can often feel like a daunting task. We’re here to help you turn complex regulations into sensible, proportionate controls.

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