Are you using safety audit checklists in your EHS department? If you are, consider yourself one step closer to bringing organization and efficiency into your operations. And if you’re not, you should be.
Safety audit checklists can be powerful tools that not only improve your department, but also your company as a whole. Here’s what you need to know about using safety audit checklists and the value they bring to your EHS program.
Why Use a Checklist to Conduct Your Safety Audits?
Conducting internal safety audits is no easy feat, with or without a checklist to guide the process. Audits are usually time- and detail-intensive tasks that are comprised of many moving parts.
In some cases, audits may only need to be done once per month. Other audits may need to be done more or less frequently. Unless you have a good way to keep up with the requirements of each, it’s too easy to forget important details or data you need to look for or record.
Checklists can help ensure you know exactly what to look for during each audit so no details fall through the cracks. It takes out the guesswork of conducting audits and brings consistency and systematization to the process.
The whole point of safety audits isn’t to comply with OSHA or other regulatory agencies. Rather, safety audits help you to understand your current safety status and find the gaps you need to close.
Use the information you find during your audit to make real changes in your EHS operations to ensure every moment you spend on auditing is worth the effort. As a result, you have a greater chance of conducting a safety audit that’s not only complete, but also insightful.
What’s On a Safety Audit Checklist?
There is no one size fits all safety audit checklist. Rather, your checklist should be unique to your organization to include the specific information you need to collect. However, there is some basic information you’ll want to ensure is on your audit form.
Adding brief instructions to your audit checklist can help give the user direction and set the right expectations. Include any specifics on how the audit should be conducted, how to submit the form, and the timeframe in which they need to complete it.
Keep the answer simple to avoid users having to make judgment calls. Answers should be either Yes or No, or a specific measurement.
Opt for Concise Language
Questions should be simple and straight to the point. Make sure each question on the audit is easy to understand and answer.
Include Pictures When Necessary
You can customize your safety audit checklists to fit your needs, so don’t feel like you’re stuck with plain text versions. When helpful, include any pictures or images that can help the auditor make the right call. This can be especially helpful for new auditors who may not know what to look for on a piece of equipment.
Include Space for Additional Notes
Make sure you include a space for auditors to record additional notes for items not found on the audit form or for items that need additional explanations.
Moving forward, you can use this information to revise and improve your audit forms to ensure you’re capturing all the right information each time.
Best Practices for Using Safety Audit Checklists
Checklists are usually straightforward tools that don’t require much guesswork. But if you want to get the most benefit from your result, consider the following best practices.
Use Technology to Streamline the Process
Use a safety audit software solution to conduct paperless audits. All the forms you need can be accessed from the app and data can be recorded in real time. This helps to avoid errors associated with double entry and saves time in the process.
Review Audit Results Over Time
It’s helpful to compile data over time to see how your audits are ultimately performing. Ideally, each audit will find fewer errors to show you’re using the data you collect to make needed changes.
Share Your Findings
Include your team and company leaders on your audit findings. This helps to keep communication open and let others know how your efforts are paying off.
Further reading: Achieving EHS Compliance with Audits and Inspections