ASSE Urges Companies to Start the Year with a Safety Audit

As comprehensive safety, health and environmental (SH&E) audit programs is an important tool of a world-class safety program contributing greatly to reducing on-the-job injuries and illnesses and protecting a company's assets, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) urges companies to start the new year by conducting an audit. SH&E auditing allows businesses aided by their SH&E practitioners to assess workplace hazards and risks in an effort to protect people, property and the environment.

"Once a systematic auditing program is developed and implemented consistently, you will have a program that will prove to be an invaluable tool for a company's business sustainability. With the new year, what better time to start," ASSE President Michael W. Thompson, CSP said. "Our members have the expertise to assist business and labor formulate an effective program to fully understand the SH&E risks and hazards in businesses today and offer timely and cost effective solutions."

When conducting an SH&E audit, safety professionals should use a specific checklist or protocol that reflect internal conformance requirements, legal and regulatory compliance and good industry-specific practice. These tools will provide the basis for management decisions affecting the organization's SH&E programs. A comprehensive audit program involves identifying the audit objectives then defining and planning the audit; conducting the audit; analyzing the audit findings, developing and implementing corrective actions and methods to track those actions and the benefits of each; developing metrics to gauge the auditing process and developing a final report of the audit results and conclusions.

"SH&E auditors often find they have the opportunity to strengthen working relationships and breakdown barriers, if they exist," Thompson saidd. "Basically, the auditor assesses the real time status of the entity's SH&E program, diagnoses weaknesses and strengths and prescribes a course to recovery and/or moving forward. To do this the safety professional conducting the audit should have a strong knowledge of SH&E audit principles and regulatory requirements, be objective, open-minded, diplomatic, an effective communicator and have the ability to earn trust and respect."

A comprehensive SH&E audit process should include:

  • Reviewing the record of accidents, injuries, and illnesses sustained by employees since the previous audit.
  • Analyzing the resources devoted to identifying and controlling hazards, to employee training, and to safety motivation and recognition.
  • Ascertaining the extent to which various levels of management are actively involved in accident prevention.
  • Evaluating the results of physical inspections of the premises and observations of personnel performing operations that accident records show have been hazardous.
  • Developing timely and effective corrective action plans to mitigate hazards identified during the audit in order to prevent reoccurrence.

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