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 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?
In November 2011 Health and Safety Committee (HSC) agreed to commence auditing by topic/risk area.
The topic selected for 2014 is risk assessment.
The reason for choosing this subject is that production of suitable and sufficient risk assessments is fundamental to the effective management of health and safety risk and prevention of harm. Evidence of suitable and sufficient risk assessment is also essential in the defence of civil claims and in demonstrating compliance to enforcing bodies. This has become all the more important in the light of recent changes to legal process (e.g. Ministry of Justice Reforms, Fees for Intervention).
They objectives of the audit will be to:
Identify whether a sample of risk assessments produced by managers of higher risk areas meet legal and University requirements and are suitable and sufficient.
Identify gaps between risk assessment requirements and practice.
Where common weaknesses are identified, make recommendations for how support can be given to improve the standard.
How will the audit be conducted?
It is intended that both the University and UECS will be audited at the same time. Wivenhoe House Hotel will not be included in the Audit, as they are still in the process of formulating their risk assessments.
- University vehicle movement on site
- Working at height (using tower scaffolds, mobile elevated work platforms, extension ladders)
- Exposure to hazardous substances (hazardous dust, corrosive, poisonous, respiratory sensitisers, biological risks)
- Use of hazardous machinery and vehicles
- Significant manual handling activities (heavy or awkward tasks)
- Significant workplace noise (Where it necessary for employees to raise their voice to have a normal conversation when about 2 m apart)
- Workplace violence (public facing interaction with higher risk groups, money handling)
- Hot work
- Flammable substances
- Working with electricity (work on live circuits, permit to work activities)
The following will be out of scope: Generic risk assessments on OHSAS website. Contractor risk assessments, activities that take place offsite, DSE, driving for work, pregnancy, fire risk assessment, use of portable electrical appliances, use of stepladders, hand-held work equipment, and small quantities of flammable liquids. The subject listed as being within scope are not being audited in their entirety.
Audit indicators, identifying what all risk assessments should have and specific requirements for target risk areas, will be produced and used to assess the adequacy of risk assessments.
Phase 1: A list of areas where HSAS will expect the above risks to be found will be drawn up and a selection of managers from each will be chosen and asked to provide a sample of their risk assessments. These will be assessed against the indicators.
Phase 2: Based on findings from phase 1: HSAS will visit a selection of work areas to review how the risk assessments are implemented in practice. This will include a check how assessments are communicated and interviews to find out worker knowledge of hazards and risk controls and what is done in practice
Short informal reports will be sent to relevant managers on adequacy of risk assessments seen.
An overarching report will be produced on common finding and recommendations across University / UECS.
Phase 1: Review of sample of risk assessment
February 2014 – July 2014
Phase 2: Visit to selection of work areas to review implementation in practice.
April 2014 – August 2014
Final Report produced and sent to relevant senior managers
August / Sept 2014
Report to Health and Safety Group on significant findings.
What is involved in an audit?
The Guide to Health and Safety Auditing (.pdf) and Health and Safety Audit Flowchart (.pdf) present an 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.
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) or Wivenhoe House Hotel be included?
UECS have agreed to participate in the 2014 audit programme. This will be based on the University of Essex audit process, but reported separately to the UECS Health and Safety Committee.
Wivenhoe House Hotel will not be included in the Audit as their health and safety arrangements are in a more developmental stage and HSAS is already working closely with them on risk assessment.