If you are responsible for health and safety, you’re probably sick and tired of hearing about COVID-19 assessments by now.
With people across the country returning to work in the coming months, businesses, building owners, and health and safety managers are under immense pressure to ensure premises are safe to return to.
Whether it is implementing one way systems, hand sanitiser stations, or social distancing between desks, offices and workspaces as we know them are changing. It’s the responsibility of health and safety managers to implement and enforce these changes.
However, with so much focus on COVID-19, there is a risk of less novel, but no less vital, health and safety concerns being overlooked. Although COVID-19 is at the forefront of all our minds, the dangers of overlooking health and safety remain.
After many months working from home or on furlough, employees may be out of sync with health and safety rules that were second nature before the crisis. As such, basic but important measures may need reworking or reimplementing.
The most effective way of identifying where there are potential risks or lapses in health and safety remains the same: a comprehensive health and safety audit.
Health and safety post-COVID
COVID-19 is one of the greatest health crises in recent history. Business owners are rightly concerned and over the last few weeks and months, many have made great efforts to ensure offices and workspaces are COVID-safe, ready for furloughed and home-workers to return.
The government has published guidelines for making workplaces COVID-safe, though they continue to recommend working from home where possible.
Under COVID recommendations, businesses and health and safety managers are expected to identify the need for these COVID specific measures as part of standard risk assessments. But with such immense pressure and focus on COVID, it can be easy to overlook many other risks which feature in the standard British workplace.
Why health and safety audits remain vital
Health and safety audits are a fundamental tool in helping health and safety managers make certain their premises are compliant. An audit closely examines every aspect of a workplace to ensure every Health and Safety Regulation is being met.
Completing a ‘rating document’ as part of a health and safety audit allows you to periodically check your workplace for any non-compliance or health risk to workers. By completing this document, you can easily make comparisons between areas and identify flaws. Regularly carrying out a health and safety audit is best practice, and not only makes it possible to catch risks before they become dangers but also shows a willingness to meet and exceed your health and safety duties.
As discussed above, COVID-19 has introduced a whole host of new concerns and considerations – but the health and safety concerns that were important last year haven’t simply vanished. You must continue to identify and mitigate these risks wherever possible. A health and safety audit, carried out by a competent and qualified third party, makes this task easy and puts your mind at ease.
What does a health and safety audit cover?
At Veritas Consulting, we carry out full health and safety audits using a comprehensive rating document based on HSG 65, the Health and Safety Executive’s most popular guideline document for leaders, owners and line managers.
Our Health and Safety Audit includes both a standard initial evaluation of your existing health and safety systems and a more in-depth review of workplace structure and methods of operation. Then, we carry out a survey of internal and external site operations, identifying hazards, unsafe acts or conditions, and non-compliance with regulations.
Some of the main areas covered in our health and safety checklist are:
- Is your health and safety policy statement:
- Is there a Health and Safety Management System, and is it clear, concise, and indexed?
- Have health and safety objectives been set?
- Is there a competent person in charge of health and safety?
- Do you have a clear organisational structure including those with health and safety responsibilities?
- Are responsibilities clearly defined?
- Are employees, supervisors, and contractors competent and qualified, and is there a process in place for appointing competent people?
- Is there a system in place to assign and manage personnel and equipment?
- Does management have a commitment to ensuring safety across the business?
- Have full, comprehensive risk assessments been carried out where needed and is there a system in place to ensure this? Have risk assessments been recorded and stored properly?
- Is there evidence of a system for distribution and control of important documents such as H&S policy, H&S management System, Employee Responsibilities, Risk Assessments and Procedures etc?
- Are you ensuring proper contractor and client safety management when on-site?
- Are there specific safety systems in place for shared premises?
- Can you show comprehensive induction and training for employees and subcontractors?
- Is there full and comprehensive evidence of accident and incident reporting (RIDDOR etc)?
- Can you provide proof of comprehensive project controls?
- Is there evidence of a system of PPE management including issue and inspection?
You can see an example of our Health and Safety Audit checklist, including all the areas we cover, here.
Our auditor will be able to carry out an in-depth review of all these areas, and then supply you with a detailed report of where improvements could be made.
Remember, we are not the health and safety police – we’re an independent consultancy firm able to offer you unbiased, fair advice and solutions based on decades of experience, to help you meet your responsibilities.
Although COVID remains a high priority, it is actually the perfect time to carry out a Health and Safety Audit. With everyone now highly conscious of the cooperative workplace and how it can impact you, employees are more likely to be engaged in the health and safety process.
With so many people have been out of the office for an extended period, it’s more important than ever before to make sure all systems are running smoothly.
For more information about our health and safety audit, or to discuss how Veritas can help you, call us on 0800 1488 677, or get in touch via the contact form above.