How To Perform Best Practice Safety Audits

How To Perform Best Practice Safety Audits

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Despite relevant technologies being widely available and increasingly affordable, it was not until recently that AuditSoft reinvented the way that safety audits are performed and enabled the capturing of audit data.

Audits have traditionally been carried out using Excel or spreadsheet-type solutions and fillable PDF documents – and many safety professionals still rely on these as their main data collection and reporting tools.

This largely fragmented and inefficient approach created a gap in the process of transforming data into information that is useful for decision-making – presenting a significant lost opportunity for the industry.

AuditSoft is bridging this gap with solutions that enable the accurate collection, analysis and sharing of audit data; enabling safety associations to maximize auditing value.

Before we delve into how, let’s begin by covering the basics of why safety audits exist and why they’re such an important tool for driving workplace safety. (Or jump straight to best practice auditing.)

What is a safety audit?

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) audits are independent objective assessments against set requirements and industry best practices. They provide organizations with valuable feedback on how to reduce risk, identify opportunities for improvement and show commitment to their sustainability efforts from a governance perspective.

Why is auditing important?

Safety audits are becoming increasingly important in providing stakeholders with credible and defensible proof of an organization’s due diligence, corporate governance, associated risk management and compliance.

Proof upon which stakeholders will decide whether to invest in, buy from or partner with a specific organization.

In many industries, proof of an organization’s commitment to the health, safety and well-being of their employees and proof of an effective and supporting occupational health and safety management system, via an independent third-party audit, is becoming a prerequisite to qualify for tenders and projects.

What should a safety audit include?

Safety audits are only valuable to the extent to which the audit results can be trusted. This trust only occurs when audits include evidence that is relevant, sufficient and verifiable (this is what AuditSoft facilitates). More on this later.

The foundation for performing best practice safety audits

the 5 Rs of auditing

The foundation for performing best practice safety audits lies in the 5 Rs of auditing. Completing each of these items ensures that you maximize the value from your investment in auditing.

What are the 5 Rs of auditing?

RELIABILITY – Is the process credible and are the findings reliable? Can it be trusted?

RISK – Is the audit program focused on reducing risk?

RESOURCES – How do you maximise the return on investment and resources?

REPUTATION – Will performing audits decrease reputational risk?

RETURN – Does the audit program provide value to the organization through continuous improvement, proof of due diligence and assurance?

How do you address the 5 Rs and embed them into your audit methodology?

At AuditSoft, we do this by aligning our solutions with the internationally recognized, best practice standards for auditing management systems (ISO 19011:2018).

The ISO 19011:2018 standard

ISO 19011:2018

ISO 19011:2018 is an international consensus standard applicable to all management system audits – from quality and environmental to information security and occupational health and safety. It is increasingly being used by regulators, registrars, and supply‐chain partners to establish audit program requirements.

ISO 19011 is the foundation on which AuditSoft was built.

ISO 19011:2018 sets out the following:
  • Principles of auditing
  • Guidance for establishing and managing an audit program
  • Steps for conducting management system audits
  • Methods for evaluating auditor competence

 

ISO 19011 defines an audit as a systematic, independent and documented process for obtaining objective evidence and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which the audit criteria are fulfilled.

The 2018 revision to the philosophy and intent behind ISO 19011, was to add a seventh principle to the previously existing six audit principles:

  1. Integrity
  2. Fair presentation
  3. Due professional care
  4. Confidentiality
  5. Independence
  6. Evidence-based approach
  7. Risk-based approach: This seventh principle brings a holistic approach to the audit process, by considering both risk and opportunities.

Performing evidence-based safety audits

How to perform best practice safety audits

The cornerstone principle of management system auditing is its evidence-based approach, which is also foundational in AuditSoft. This approach is described in ISO 19011 as “using a rational method for reaching reliable and reproducible audit conclusions in a systematic audit process.

The key is reliability (credibility).

Safety audits are only valuable to the extent to which the audit results can be trusted – by both internal and external stakeholders. This trust only occurs when audit results are based on evidence that is relevant, sufficient and verifiable.

  • Relevantto the extent that it is related to the scope and nature of the audit
  • Sufficientto the extent that it is enough to determine conformance to selected standards
  • Verifiableto the extent that it is repeatable and tied to facts gathered using objective audit techniques

Executing a three-step approach to evidence-based auditing:

Focus on relevance:

AuditSoft enables the process of identifying and collecting relevant and verifiable audit evidence for each criteria through the review of supporting documentation, observation tours, employee interviews or a combination of these methods.

Although an expert auditor can perform an audit using a poorly formulated protocol and poorly designed audit processes, it requires significantly more effort by the auditor and in doing so, is a wasted opportunity to further reduce risk by instead focusing on areas for continuous improvement.

Focus on sufficiency:

Auditors must collect the audit evidence required to draw meaningful conclusions. Audits are not inspections. It is not feasible to examine all the information available within the scope of even the most narrowly defined audit. Instead, audits need to focus on collecting evidence that is persuasive, representative of reality, and of credible value.

There are several factors that go into determining the amount of audit evidence needed. These factors include the source and reliability of the information available, the nature and strength of the internal control processes in place, as well as the degree of risk associated with inaccurate audit findings.

Focus on verifiable findings:

Audit findings must be actionable. Safety audits have only limited value unless the results are documented and gaps are communicated to individuals who can address them. AuditSoft supports this methodology and in doing so, also ensures repeatability.

An audit is only verifiable if it supports inter-auditor consistency, meaning that the process is of such a nature that if different auditors conduct the same audit; they will come to similar conclusions.

Unlocking valuable data from safety audits

Standardizing the auditing process following best practices is the first step to unlocking valuable insights from safety audits.

By collecting data from multiple audits in one standardized format, there can be confidence in the completeness and integrity of the data.

This is an essential step to placing the power of data-driven decision-making in the hands of strategic stakeholders.

Example of a safety audit report generated with AuditSoft 

AuditSoft’s safety audit software drives standardization across all safety audits. Safety professionals can generate reports in one click.

Making data-driven safety decisions

The ability to aggregate data is where the true value of OHS auditing lies. Without data, you are not realizing the full value of safety audits.

Aggregate audit data unlocks a number of analytical opportunities:

  • Year-on-year trending & reporting
  • Individual company performance
  • Performance by region
  • Performance per industry
  • Identifying awareness and training opportunities
  • Sustainability reporting
  • Qualitative & quantitative improvement over time

 

These insights enable safety associations and certifying bodies to better support members and industries to confidently make decisions that move the needle with safety.

Data from safety audits in AuditXchange

AuditXchange provides deep insights into safety audit results

Activating data-driven decision-making for AASP

The Alberta Association for Safety Partnerships (AASP) has been an AuditSoft customer since March, 2020.

Alberta’s second largest safety association and certifying partner is using AuditSoft to streamline COR (Certificate of Recognition) and SECOR (Small Employer Certificate of Recognition) audits and to unlock the value of aggregated audit data.

AuditXchange is enabling AASP members to:

  • Get a breakdown of their COR audit score across different elements and questions
  • View their performance year-on-year
  • Compare their performance with other members in their industry code at AASP

 

“From an organization’s point of view, you can really understand how well you are performing. AASP also analyzes the data on an annual basis to identify where organizations are needing extra support – and whether we need to add additional training or services. It’s a great tool for driving continuous improvement.”

Ray Gaetz, CEO, AASP

Explore the #1 safety audit software

AuditSoft is the leading safety audit software. Associations and Certifying Bodies partner with AuditSoft to supply their members with cutting-edge auditing tools and to unlock valuable audit insights. Each year AuditSoft is used to conduct thousands of audits in high-risk industries across Canada.

Learn more about AuditSoft’s safety audit software

Explore AuditSoft’s data management solution for safety audits.

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