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Understand the internal OHS audit so your company's health and safety standards are spot on

by , 18 May 2015
To make sure everyone complies with safety regulations when it comes to the internal OHS Audit, you should know the concepts and definitions used by internal auditors when assessing and reporting against the internal audit criteria.

These will help you have a better understanding of the process itself and know whether the conclusions and the procedure is being applied correctly.

Knowing the law is your responsibility and it's a good way to protect your business against any mistakes

Let's look at some of the most common and important notions regarding the Internal OHS Audit:

Conformance (C): This means your auditee has demonstrated:

•  Full implementation of the company's procedures, and
•  Compliance with legal requirements, and
•  Commitment to the principle of continualimprovement.

Based upon the evidence audited is it evident that the auditee is conformant with company and legal requirements, and is active in implementing additional measures to achieve continual improvement.

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Area for Improvement (AFI): The auditor has provided recommendations that may assist the auditee to achieve continual improvement by:

• Ensuring more efficient implementation of company procedures (reductions in time, cost and resources);
• Enhancing the transparency of the system to auditors, regulators and the University.

This means that the auditee is conformant with company and legal requirements, and the recommendations are merely the opinion of the auditor. While failure to follow this advice will not in itself lead to non conformance, the recommendations are made based on the auditor's experience in reviewing the approach of areas across the entire company.

Requires Correction (RC): Based on the evidence audited, it is evident that:

• The auditee hasn't fully, effectively or consistently implemented company procedures, and/or
• There was evidence of isolated instances of apparent legislative non-compliance.

Keep in mind that corrective action should be undertaken as a priority to prevent the area falling into non-conformance. The audit itself is a sampling exercise. If the sampling indicates isolated legislative non-compliance, it's likely that a regulator might reveal systematic non-compliance during more focused inspection or intervention.

Further, it's likely that both internal and external auditors will focus on issues identified as RC during subsequent audits. The criterion requiring correction may be linked to or interdependent with other key systems. Pay attention to the fact that failure relating to this criterion may therefore lead to a significant reduction in total system effectiveness, or wider legal non-compliance.

Non-Conformance (NC): The auditor finds evidence that there was:

• An absence of system elements or a part of the system, and/or
• A failure to follow the documented systems or procedures, and/or
• A lapse in the system or procedure, and/or
• Apparent systemic legislative non-compliance.

Corrective action must be undertaken to prevent injury, ensure continued certification and ensure legislative compliance. The Internal Auditor is required to report serious hazards or potentially dangerous occurrences to the division's senior management, the OHS and Injury Management Department and the Director, Internal Audit. Non conformances are documented on Corrective
Action Reports, and remedial action will be confirmed by subsequent verification.

Not Verified (NV): The auditor cannot confirm implementation of the system because:

• The related activity has not yet occurred, so objective evidence is not available, or
• The criterion, whilst included in the audit scope, was not examined during the audit, or
• Evidence could not be provided due to an unforeseen circumstance.

When you see NV on your form, the auditor may not have reviewed key documents, interviewed staff or visited key areas owing to a number of issues including staff absence or time constraints. The criterion remains untested and should be considered for inclusion within the scope of subsequent audits.

Not Applicable (NA): There is no indication of the related activity having occurred, and therefore the auditee isn't required to implement systems to satisfy the specified criterion.  Corrective Action Report (CAR):

A report that the reasons for adverse findings (NC and RC), and determines the date on which the corrective actions will be reviewed.

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