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    Audit vs. Inspection: What's the Difference?

    Not sure about the gap between an audit and inspection? Here are a few key differences and when you need one or the other, or even both.

    Safety Audit

    A safety audit examines hazards and looks at your organization’s processes and procedures related to health and safety.
    Audits are conducted to:

    • Access the level of compliance with regulatory requirements.
    • Verify the effectiveness of internal company safety programs and policies

    Note that these goals may be entirely separate. A program may be compliant with safety regulations but still have critical weaknesses that leave your workers at risk of harm.

    An audit uses a structured process to examine whether your company is compliant. Keep in mind that an internal audit can also be used to determine whether your program is meeting the goals your organization set, like reducing the number of injuries

    Safety Inspection

    A safety inspection is similar in principle, but the focus is slightly different.

    • Many inspections are looking at the physical condition of an asset like equipment, tools, and housekeeping.
    • Inspections are performed by third-party companies, people using the equipment, and other competent workers.

    Audit vs. Inspection

    With that in mind, let’s talk about the similarities and differences between an audit and inspection. Both are structured processes of examination used to promote workplace safety. They may be conducted internally or externally, though safety audits are often conducted externally.

    The biggest difference between the two is what they focus on. Safety audits focus on the processes your organization uses to address these hazards and protect workers. Safety inspections, on the other hand, focus on the hazards in your work environment, as well as hazard communication.

    So, for example, a safety audit could be conducted to determine whether your organization has effective safety inspection processes. Safety inspections generally benefit from the eye of someone who is familiar with the workplace, which is why they’re often conducted internally. Safety audits can benefit from an objective outsider’s perspective to look at a program without bias.

    Both have their place in your organization and are a major contribution to improving safety in the workplace. You just have to know when to use each and how to make the most of your findings in either case.

    Taking Charge of Your Workplace Safety Responsibilities

    Whether you need an audit or inspection depends on the issue you’re trying to address. At the end of the day, the difference between the two is a matter of focus. Do you need to focus on hazards, or the processes to prevent hazards? The short answer? You need both. But managing your team to ensure maximum efficiency is an undertaking in its own right.

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