Safety inspections and safety audits are critical tools in ensuring safety in the workplace. While the two terms are often used to mean the same thing, they are in reality two different processes with intended to support different aspects of workplace safety.
Audits typically examine and evaluate if safety practices and programs are meeting an organization’s overall goals. In comparison, inspections are frequent and consistent assessments of specific risks, hazards, and other issues that might prevent an organization from operating safely.
Safety Audits Determine if a Company is Compliant or Not
A safety audit generally serves two purposes:
- To determine whether your company is compliant with current safety regulations
- To identify weaknesses in your safety programs
Safety audits identify weaknesses in your processes by measuring whether your safety programs are meeting the goals you have set. Safety audits look at the health and safety management system, examines documentation, site observations and provide you the strengths and opportunities for improvement. In this way safety audits not only help ensure personnel safety but also enables the organization to run smoothly without losing any valuable resources or time.
Although safety audits are not always required by law, they protect the company and meet compliance with safety legislation. Compliance is often the only safeguard that keeps the organization from being sued. American companies require safety audits by the Occupational Health and Safety Organization (OSHA).
Safety Inspections Are A Snapshot in Time
A safety inspection is thorough and systematic examination of the physical conditions of a workplace to monitor the status of health and safety hazards. You walk around. You check over, under, around. You check workers to see if they’re working safely and following the rules. It gives you a snapshot of how your company is doing at the time of the inspection.
Safety inspections generally benefit from the eye of someone who is familiar with the workplace, and the kind of work performed in it. Their goal is to identify hazards in order to eliminate, guard, or protect against them.
Inspections may be part of an audit, but an audit is not part of an inspection. Both have their place in your safety operations and both can play a critical role in improving safety in the workplace. You just have to know when is the best time to inspect and when is the best time to audit.