The term “WHS Audit” or Work Health & Safety Audit is a broad term referring to an unbiased and independent examination of work health and safety practices within an organisation, business or a business unit. The audit will examine the practices and processes adopted by the business in managing the range of hazards created by the work of the business to its employees, contractors, visitors and other stakeholders that may interact with the business.
Contents of this article
How the business manages hazards
The WHS audit would typically examine how a business or business unit manages a range of hazard and risks including (but not limited to)
- Biomechanical Hazards
- Chemical Hazards
- Dusts, fibres and particles
- Management of chemical hazards
- Process Hazards (Chemical)
- Biological Hazards
- Psychosocial hazards and occupational stress
- Bullying and violence
- Occupational Noise
- Radiation (Both ionising and Non-ionising)
- Thermal Environment
- Gravitational Hazards
- Mechanical plant hazards
- Mobile plant
WHS Audits involve competent and experienced whs auditors adhering to an auditing standard and methodology. Work health and safety audits would typically follow the requirements of AS/NZS ISO 19011:2019 Guidelines for auditing management systems but also may follow the requirements defined by regulatory bodies.
The audit typically involves understanding complex processes within a work health and safety system and how those processes interact to control hazards. A work health & safety system cannot be entirely understood by examining parts of the system in isolation. Specifically, we acknowledge that both individual and organisational cultures and behaviours may affect how risks are managed within a business, a business unit or even a section of the workforce.
While WHS audits typically examine tangibles like whether hard or soft controls to manage hazards exist, a business may also be subject to a range of intangibles factors that affect whs performance. These include information flows, relationships, interpersonal interactions, values and beliefs held. Subsequently, the quantification of these issues can be problematic to quantify and typically lie outside the function of a WHS audit.
Typically, during a WHS audit a WHS Auditor might examine:
- The business’ capacity to identify and prioritise the management of hazards
- It’s ability to establish a policy for what it intends to do and achieve in controlling the hazard.
- The capacity of the organisation to gather information and intelligence regarding management of the hazard in real time and how responsive the organisation in responding.
- The types of controls that the business implements to control the whs hazards.
- How is co-ordinates those controls across the organisation.
- How it implements its whs policy in an operational sense; and
- How the business re-evaulates itself.
A WHS Audit is traditionally accompanied by a report providing a review of the practices of the auditee and forms a view, at a given date, whether those practices comply or fail to comply with either or all of:
- Regulatory requirements;
- Australian Standards;
- Codes of Practices;
- Industry practice.
Types of WHS audits
While there are a variety of types of WHS audits that can be completed on a business, most businesses either seek one of the selection below:
- Statutory compliance audit – to evaluate the compliance of the organisation with work health and safety regulations.
- WHS Compliance audit – to identify hazards and examine of those hazards are being managed by the organisation relative to accepted standards.
- WHS Program audit – to verify that the necessary programs are in place to dictate safety rules and regulations and reduce the number of safety incidents.
- WHS Management systems audit – to evaluate the effectiveness of management’s commitment to safety programs and their integration into safety culture in accordance with an Australian Standards AS/NZS ISO 45001:2018 Requirements with guidance for use Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements with guidance for use.
What WHS auditors don’t do?
Review every incident, procedure or protocol adopted by the business – audits are traditionally based on selective testing only. Testing is typically based around the business-critical risks however a more detailed approach may be adopted according to the business needs. A WHS Auditor should not:
- Make judgements on the the appropriateness of the organisation’s business activities or business strategies.
- Test the adequacy of all of the organisation’s internal control mechanisms. Notwithstanding that, the auditor will typically provide feedback on the robustness of the hazard controls and selectively exam if those controls can be demonstrated by the organisation’s work environment.
- Provide comments to shareholders or other parties on the quality of directors and management, the quality of whs governance or the quality of the organisation’s risk management framework.
What WHS auditors cannot do
Predict the future
The WHS audit relates to processes and practices observed at the time of the whs audit. A WHS Audit does not provide indications of what, if any, actions may occur in the future associated with the conduct of the business. WHS auditors cannot provide assurance that the organisation will not have accidents, injuries or illnesses. Rather the WHS Audit is a snapshot in time of the organisation’s capacity to manage WHS or work health & safety
Hold the business’ hand forever
A WHS audit is carried out during a defined timeframe, and whs auditors do not work within the business all the time. Ultimately the principal purpose of the whs audit is to form an opinion on the information available and whether the organisation can demonstrate robustness in whs management systems. Notwithstanding this, our whs consultants work with organisations to help implement controls following audits to help the organisation meet compliance.
How much does a WHS audit cost?
WHS audits are costed based around the scope of the audit activities and the complexity of the information and systems to be reviewed. A simple audit can cost less than one thousand dollars and a highly complex audit of multiple sites could cost tens of thousands of dollars. We always recommend that you consider the scope of the audit at the outset. You should be able to answer:
- What is my (or my business’) goal from the conduct of the whs audit?
- What will I do with the information gained from the audit?
- Who is the intended audience of the audit report?
- How many sites do I need to review to get a representative sample of my organisation’s performance?
- Is there value in having someone conduct this internally?
WHS Audit Template
Many people often ask what a WHS audit examines. While we use a range of audit criteria, we have provided and example what might be examined in a WHS audit. You can download an example of a WHS Audit Template here.
Can Safetysure help with WHS Auditing?
The short answer is YES! We provide WHS audit services for some of Australia’s leading companies and organisations. Our staff are trained and competent WHS auditing professionals who can work with you to get the best outcome from an audit for your organisation.
Read more about Safety Auditing
You can find out more by contacting us on 130008788 or chat below!