Auditing isn’t new
The workplace today is varied and diverse. Varied in its populace, and diverse in its demands. An associate may cross over from a set of rules in one work station, to a second work station with a different set of rules of compliance. Encompassing everything that an individual might encounter on a daily basis requires multiple sets of audits, walks, and evaluations. These concerns for safety are not new to the workplace.
The code of Hammurabi, circa 2,000 B.C., illustrated concern in handling injuries and associated with caring for “infected people. Ramses II circa 1,500 B.C., created a medical service and required daily bathing for his labourers, in hopes to efficiently construct the pyramid that bears his name.
As civilisation advanced, so did governments’ concerns for the well-being of its workers, and the impact on its people. Continuing through to Roman times, safety and health concerns were engineered into projects such as sewage and ventilation. In 1567 Philippus Aureolus’s treatise on Miners Sickness and other Miners Diseases covered the effects of metallurgy and the exposure in the handling of substances such as mercury. Finally in the early 1700’s, Bernardino Ramazzini in his Discourse on the Diseases of Workers, concluded that there are parallels between worker’s diseases and their occupation.
Each step, every record of facts, and methods of improvement have been made with good intentions to be of benefit to the worker and ensure the welfare of the organisation. The intentions of these progressions in worker safety have been to ensure that best practices are in place to send workers home in the same condition they came to work in.
How much is enough
With so many safety organisations out there, and so many demands for documentation, it’s easy to believe that, ‘maybe we have too many audits’. The auditor is responsible for the evaluation of the entire organisation. This includes everyone, and everything within it.
A proper audit from a third party independent professional will include meeting and working with management, reviewing documentation, reviewing training, processes, services, office, floor production and the ergonomic engineering of equipment and products. They then summarise overall performance in a snapshot.
Internal audits, safety walks, or self-assessments recognise the deficiencies prior to an audit, with the intention to strengthen the safety of the job site. You can never really have too many walks or audits, as long as the ultimate outcome prevents an injury in the workplace. To that point, a lot of companies have associates report “near misses” as a separate category to track the potential of accidents and injuries, without waiting for a recordable accident to document and identify deficiencies, thereby validating the need of the initial walks and audits.
Living and Breathing
In the end, the best case scenario, is having an audit program, administered by a health and safety professional that operates with a system that is in all ways, living and breathing. By that, each associate must be able to access it, and be comfortable to contribute. You can audit your facility daily, but, if there is no buy in from the team, if no one feels that they can give back in a preventative manner, then all the walks in the world will not be effective. Communication both ways, allowing associates to give feedback at any time and relaying all pertinent information back to the team, adds to the living and breathing effect.