Health and Safety Auditing
The law requires the University to have arrangements in place for monitoring health and safety. This includes routine inspections and periodical auditing.
This site includes information, guidance and some simplified flowcharts to help you understand what is involved and who does what in relation to health and safety auditing. Some of the key points are detailed below or you can download a comprehensive Guide to Health and Safety Auditing (.pdf).
What is an audit?
An audit is different to an inspection. An inspection is generally limited to an examination of physical conditions so that an assessment can be made of basic legal compliance.
An audit involves collecting information about the health and safety management system (.pdf) and making judgements about its adequacy and performance. Audits provide a 'feedback loop' to those responsible for managing health and safety. It is a proactive method to monitor whether risk controls and processes put in place to manage health and safety across the University are adequate and effective in practice, or whether improvements could be made.
What will be audited?
Following meetings with the Health and Safety Committee (HSC) and Safety Advisory Group in 2011, it was agreed to commence auditing by topic/risk area. The topics selected for 2012 are electrical safety and fire safety, based on the potential high risk of ill health or injury to people and damage to campus property.
When an audit is arranged, both topics will be audited at the same time, unless agreed otherwise with the relevant Head of Department/Section.
Which areas will be audited and when? (update May 2012)
There has been a difficulty completing the Electrical and Fire Safety Audits within the original timescale (by end April 2012) due to work demands from inspections and several incident investigations. Some Departments have also requested that the audit be scheduled for a later date, as they had specific deadlines at this time, which made it difficult for them to accommodate the audits.
A review of the information collected to date, along with inspection outcomes relating to fire and electrical safety is being put together for low risk departments and sections. Those audits that were started (Data Archive and East 15) will be completed. The audit of higher risk areas will be postponed.
What is involved in an audit?
The Health and Safety Audit Flowchart (.pdf) presents a simplified overview of the process to aid auditor/s and auditee/s. Timescales are given as a guide. It is recognised that these may need to be adjusted at busy times in the University calendar.
The auditor/s will co-ordinate the process from start to finish, conduct the audit, produce a report on their findings and track the progress of any action plan arising.
Auditee/s will be responsible for providing relevant documentation before and during the audit, attending the audit (specific personnel required will be agreed in advance), proposing how they wish to address the findings identified and assigning resources and/or timescales to address any audit findings.
The Head of Health and Safety will update the Health and Safety Committee and Safety Advisory Group with any significant issues or trends identified through the audit process; this will assist with the University's review of the health and safety management system to ensure it remains adequate and effective.
Will the auditing activity affect my ability to meet my University commitments?
The auditing activity will accommodate teaching and other University commitments wherever possible, whilst aiming to meet the University agreed timescale to complete the identified audits and produce any associated action plans.
The auditor/s are responsible for co-ordinating the audit activity from start to finish so the impact on those being audited should be minimised as far as possible.
Will the University of Essex Commercial Services (UECS) be included?
The University has a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of employees and non-employees, either of which could be affected by the management control or working practices of UECS. The auditing of UECS could assist the University's future review of contractual arrangements in relation to health and safety as landlord, tenant or shared occupier of premises.
UECS have agreed to participate in the 2012 audit programme. This will be based on the University of Essex audit process but reported separately to the UECS Health and Safety Committee.
Further details on UECS auditing arrangements are available from the UECS Head of Operations or University of Essex Head of Health and Safety.