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Safety Audits


Learning objectives

  • Define safety audit and describe its purpose.

  • Recognize the importance of safety audits and the objectives of a safety audit program.

  • Identify how to plan and conduct a safety audit.

  • Identify how to inspect the work area and work practices.

  • Identify how to formulate recommendations for corrective action recommendations, make audit reports, and conduct follow-ups.

Course overview

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), the agency audited over 39,000 organizations in one year, with over 17,000 of those inspections labeled as “programmed”, meaning unexpected safety auditing.

Safety audits are about accountability.

Safety audits are intended to assure that effective program elements are in place for identifying, eliminating, or controlling hazards that could adversely impact a company’s physical and human assets. Conducted properly, this type of audit will help reduce injury and illness rates, lower workers compensation and other business costs, empower employees by involving them in activities affecting their own safety and health, increase job satisfaction, and make the company more competitive.

Although the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) does not require it, a voluntary safety audit program is a sound business practice that demonstrates a company’s interest in and commitment to continuous improvement of its health and safety effort.

The objectives of a safety audit should be to maintain a safe place of work through hazard recognition and removal, to verify employees are following the most effective safety procedures, to make certain the facility, equipment, and operations meet the required local, state, and federal, health, and safety requirements and best industry business practices to produce a safe place of work. In addition, safety audits assure that necessary administrative records supporting the required health, safety, and medical activities are maintained.

Formal Safety Audits

  • Should be conducted on a regularly scheduled basis

  • Demonstrate the company has made a commitment to safety and is monitoring and enforcing its established Safety Policy and procedures

  • Should be an official part of the company’s health and safety program

  • Should involve employees, supervisors, middle and upper level operating management, and health and safety professionals

  • Establish a schedule of safety audits for each workplace and work process

The best time to conduct a safety audit is during a time when operations and work practices can be observed as they are normally conducted and when there will be the least number of distractions to the normal work procedures.

To conduct a thorough audit of a job or area, it is best to use a checklist. There are many different types of audit checklists with the number of items on the list varying from only a few to hundreds depending on the complexity of the audit. Each type of checklist has its specific purpose.

How often audits are conducted depends on the potential for property damage, personal injury, or catastrophic events, and how quickly conditions that could present a hazard can develop. Additional conditions to consider are past records of equipment failures, accidents, near accidents and injuries, and whether regular audits are required due to requirements external to the company. The greater the potential severity or consequences of an unwanted occurrence, the more frequently audits should be made.

In addition to a job safety analysis form, a detailed checklist should be used that reflects regulations as well as best business practices and consensus standards applicable to health and safety requirements specific to the company’s operations and exposures.

Examples of checklist items might include:

  • Machinery and tools

  • Equipment, processes, and raw materials

  • Materials handling and storage

  • Hand and portable power tools

  • Vehicle fleets

  • Organization and administrative procedures

  • Walking and working surfaces

  • Housekeeping practices

  • Fire protection and life safety

  • Emergency response procedures

  • Radiation, hazardous chemicals, and hazard communication program

  • Electrical hazards

  • Lock out and tag out

  • Hazard signage

  • Personal protective equipment

  • Elevators

  • Hoists and slings

Recording Hazards

  • Give the location and description of each hazard identified

  • Give sufficient detail so that the hazard can be located by those responsible for carrying out the specified corrective action

  • Identify machines and operations by their correct names

  • Describe the locations by name or number and give details about the hazards identified

The audit report should:

  • List corrective actions in the order of priority

  • Specify exactly what needs to be done to correct the hazardous situation

  • Clearly identify who is responsible for taking the corrective action

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25 min

Course Outline

Course Outline

  • Introduction

  • Importance of a Safety Audit

  • Planning and Conducting Safety Audits

  • Inspecting the Work Area and Work Practices

  • Completing the Audit Report



  • OSHA CFR 29, Final Policy Concerning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Treatment of Voluntary Employer Safety and Health Self-Audits.


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