♦♦  CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦
Oct 2013

In this series, I share with you my thoughts on Why Safety Is An Issue For Most Companies. One of the Things We Must Address If We Want To Improve Our Safety Performance is to examine the purpose for Safety Audits and how this necessary practice can be used as an improvement tool.

     

The Best Audits

     

If your company operates on the principle that safety audits are carried out by Safety Professionals for the purpose of policing non-compliance to “The Rules and Standards”, then read on.

The safety fraternity has adopted this practice from the accounting profession for good reason – inspecting, examining, checking and verifying of safety systems, procedures and equipment are all necessary. Sadly, the correction aspect is seldom seen as an improvement tool, and the safety audit, rather than being a means to an end, is merely the end itself.

So how do you facilitate a mindset shift from “This safety audit is a necessary evil of policing, inflicted by some external source (the Safety Professionals)” to “This safety audit is a powerful self-improvement tool ” ?

  1. Invest the time necessary to make sure everyone understands the fundamental purpose (in its entirety) for continuous safety audits, viz.

  2. Make safety auditing an on-going line responsibility (same as you do with output, costs, quality, etc.).
  3. The systems, rules and regulations, standards and procedures should not only be “in place” and working, but also be accepted and understood by all, so as to foster an ownership mentality.
  4. Auditing of plant and equipment, safety mechanisms, fire fighting, first aid, emergency equipment, interlocks, trips and alarms, instruments and other safety critical devices with a “look to see” mindset will highlight aspects that could be improved on.
  5. Make sure that the inspection, examination, verification and reporting aspect of a safety audit is not used as an excuse for “not having time” to workshop and implement improvements.

ACTION

'Stop unsafe practice' and 'Safety Champion Recognition' tool - isiZulu version

  • Issue each auditor with a set of 2 red and 4 green cards. Red to stop an unsafe practice / operation and green to recognise people who are doing the right or safe thing. This will force the auditors to look for the GOOD things and find safety champions to recognise.
  • Schedule time to coach line people to do self-audits. (This investment in time will save you plenty of time in the long run.) Then, at the annual Safety Day, recognise and reward those who self-audit well, instead of just those with the best metrics.
  • Auditor Hat - A practical application of the audit logos
    Audit Hat Logos e.g. PPE Examiner, Work Permit Specialist, Machinery Expert and more

  • Get the auditors to wear hats / badges, depicting the focus area which they will be looking at. This gives high visibility and at the same time ensures that each auditor is concentrating on one specific aspect of safety.
  • Although I am against paperwork, consider drawing up an audit preparation check list: What to do and have ready for an effective audit. Provide training for the ‘hosts’, as well as your team leaders and safety reps, on how to enable an audit.
  • Give feedback on the audit findings to the ‘players’ who “push the buttons and use the tools”, not only to the ‘coaches’ (managers). The players have just as much a role to play in the safety ‘game’!

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The Best Audits – Auditing vs Policing

RELATED READING

What’s in a Hat?

Back-end a Dead-end?

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COOL TOOL™ TOOLBOX TALKS – Topic: Checklists, Inspections and Audits”

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