Don’t Fail It, Nail It
Is your Company prepared for an External HSE Audit?
Does the thought of an External Auditor coming in to your business immediately trigger alarm bells?
This response is completely normal, however, do not be afraid of Audits – but do take them seriously.
Preparation is fundamental in the land of the Audit. There are some simple things you can do to ensure your company and processes are organised, your staff are prepared, and most importantly willing to partake in the audit process.
Firstly, a well conducted internal audit is one of the best tools to drive improvements within a Company. It will highlight the effectiveness of your health and safety management systems and identify areas of weakness within your organisation. This is a fundamental requirement of your HSE management system which should be documented and is usually scheduled to be carried out every 12 months.
Secondly, it is important to ensure that you have documented evidence (Records) to support the requirements of the Management System. This is where it can fall apart as many businesses have a poor record filing structure resulting in staff not being able to swiftly locate the proof required to support the audit question. A well-structured and easily accessible filing system(s) inclusive of all appropriate records will demonstrate to the auditor that you are in compliance with your management system.
Lastly, the backbone of the above mentioned processes is staff training. No matter how good your system is and how good your records are, if your staff do not understand the requirements of the Management System or know where the records are located then the risk of failing the audit will increase significantly, and/or attract deficiencies which could have been easily overcome. All employees should have as a minimum, a basic understanding of the Management System, its content and the necessary reports/records to support the system.
Senior Management and Supervisors need to have a complete in depth knowledge of the entire management system and its requirements. In addition, they should lead by example and be able to direct the workforce in accordance with the management system requirements in all work activities.
By conducting internal audits, rectifying identified deficiencies, keeping records in a well-structured filing system and ensuring your staff understand your Management System Requirements; you can take the fear out of the audit process. This will give you confidence to welcome the External Audit as a means to assist with your continuous improvement cycle.
However, if those alarm bells have now evolved into a fog horn, GW Marine Consultants can assist with preparing your Management System, Records and staff for your next audit.