Safety observations and audits are a critical element of all successful safety programs. The human element accounts for at least 90% of all occupational accidents, while the remaining 10% result from unsafe conditions in the workplace. Merely designing and providing a safe work environment is not enough because unsafe behaviors can defeat a safe workplace design.
Safety observations and audits are an early warning system intended to identify potentially unsafe behaviors and conditions that could ultimately result in an accident. Traditionally, this process involves a safety professional, or another person familiar with the work, walking through a work area to observe the equipment, surroundings, and employees working in the area.
The auditor takes pictures and notes detailing at-risk conditions and behaviors noted. Upon completion, the auditor shares the information with individuals responsible for correcting the unsafe behaviors and conditions observed. In an industry-leading program, the auditor also makes notes about desired behaviors, and conditions noted to build a positive culture of safety.
In most programs, the data collected during the audit is filed away for future reference or compliance-related purposes. Depending on how long ago the audit was filed, it may be difficult to identify repeated unsafe conditions and behaviors. The fact that similar hazards are found in the same area points to more than just an unsafe condition or behavior. It’s a red flag that the culture of safety may be suffering.
What can you do?
Start by compiling and organizing data collected during safety observations and audits.
With this approach, it can help pinpoint:
- Issues by the type of unsafe condition or behavior observed,
- Tasks or departments with repeat issues, or
- Specific employees or supervisors who are not working safely or encouraging safe work practices.
When this data is organized and sorted, it can provide vital information to help pinpoint where and how accidents might occur. Evaluating trends can help identify the root causes of unsafe conditions and behaviors. Safety audit software solutions are available to collect and use the important data gathered during safety audits. All organizations that conduct safety audits should consider adopting a platform that allows the use of more effective data collected.
Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.