An audit can be specific and undertaken to determine if workplace practices are meeting legislative requirements. The Department of Justice and Attorney-General (JAG) maintains an ongoing inspection and audit program through Workplace Health and Safety Queensland where inspectors test compliance with the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (PDF, 1.42 MB) and the Safety in Recreational Water Activities Act 2011 (PDF, 536 kB).
Compliance auditing undertaken by inspectors is not a guarantee of a risk free workplace as a detailed examination of every hazard is not possible during an inspectors visit. The responsibility for ongoing effective health and safety management systems rests with workplace management.
The risks addressed by inspectors during a compliance audit are determined by the workplace environment along with relevant injury data and industry input.
The outcomes of compliance audits conducted by inspectors indicate if compliance is being achieved or if further actions are required to meet legislative standards.
Risk specific audits
Risk specific audits address particular issues such as confined space entry, or working at heights and involve the inspection and testing of current workplace control methods. This type of audit has a narrow focus and looks at the effectiveness of policies and procedures in dealing with specific risks.
Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, there are specific requirements for persons who conduct a business or undertaking to audit:
- confined space (PDF, 1.4 MB)
- general diving work
- major hazard facilities.
Management system audit
An occupational health and safety management systems audit has a wider scope, and although addressing hazards and risk controls, it also looks at organisational structures, planning activities, responsibilities, implemented procedures, review cycles and measurement and evaluation issues.
A basic occupational health and safety management system has some of the following characteristics:
- existence of a health and safety policy that is communicated to staff
- management commitment
- allocation of responsibilities and accountability for health and safety matters
- controls for suppliers, sub-contractors and purchasing
- health and safety consultation
- hazard identification, evaluation and control
- provision of information and training of staff
- incident recording, investigation, analysis and review
- measuring and evaluating workplace health and safety performance.
Many organisations undertake these audits on an annual basis as the amount of resources and time required to conduct a management systems audit can be substantial. These audits can be undertaken by appropriately trained internal staff or by an external third party.