An Auditors Checklist: Prepare a WHS internal audit for your business

prepare a whs internal audit

An Auditors Checklist

How To Prepare a WHS Internal Audit For Your Business

[Updated 14th of March, 2023]

When people hear you say audit, it can cause a shiver to run down their spine. But it doesn’t have too!

Auditors are nothing to be feared, so long as you are preparing your organisation and your employees for the different audits you may have to take part in throughout the life of your business.

We’ll outline some things to think about when conducting an internal WHS audit. 

What is a WHS audit?  

A WHS or Work Health and Safety audit is one of the most common audits, carried out for multiple purposes across many industries. 

It is the process of assessing the workplace for hazards or risks that could affect the employees, managers, clients or the general public. WHS audits can vary greatly depending on your industry, the size of the company and who is conducting the audit. It could be as simple as a walk-through or as complex as individual interviews, systems checks and policy reviews.  

Types of WHS audits  

There three key types of WHS audits that a company might undertake include:

  • Compliance audit – a compliance audit is essentially ensuring the workplace is free from hazards and meets WHS compliance requirements.  
  • Policy and procedure audit – sometimes also known as a program audit. This audit is to ensure that all the necessary policies and procedures are in place for a workplace, dictating the safety rules in line with the regulations.  
  • Management systems audit – a management systems audit is to evaluate the effectiveness of the management team’s approach to work health and safety.  

What happens in a WHS audit?

There’s three essential parts to a WHS audit – reviewing documentation, interviewing employees and observing the workplace. Audits can be internal or external, with an internal audit a company elects and trains an employee to be able to carry out the WHS audits and monitor the workplace for compliance issues.  

Whereas in an external audit, the company hires a professional consultant to audit the business. This does give the company the chance to benchmark itself against their own industry standard with an unbiased outside consultant providing their expert opinion. In other cases, the audit might be mandated by a government body.  

WHS Audit Checklist  

We’ve prepared a checklist for Business and Compliance Managers who are preparing for a WHS audit. Conducting an internal audit of WHS procedures is paramount to ensuring the safety of your employees, your clients and the public in general. 

It is recommended that you conduct an internal WHS audit at least annually and to have a process in place to continue to improve your processes over time. Here are some questions to consider when conducting your internal audit. 

  • Do you have a current workplace health and safety policy? Has it been reviewed yearly? 
  • Do you have an up-to-date incident register? 
  • Are staff effectively using the register? 
  • Do you have a process in place for communicating WHS issues to staff? 
  • Do you have an appointed Health and Safety Representative in each location if required? 
  • Is their training up to date? 
  • Are you effectively recording meetings of minutes in regards to WHS issues and are they stored in an easy to find and manageable location? 
  • Is your First Aid kit fully stocked and everyone is aware of how to access it? 
  • Is all of your signage up to date and appropriately displayed for any hazards? 
  • Do you have all of the required PPE and is it easily accessible by staff? 
  • If previous incidents have occurred, have the solutions been documented? 
  • Do you regularly review the WHS conduct of your staff in performance reviews? 
  • Do you regularly consult with industry regarding the WHS requirements of your business or organisation? 
  • Do your inductions of new staff including work health and safety procedures? 

This is a basic list of points that Business and Compliance Managers can consider when reviewing their workplace health and safety procedures internally. Depending on the individual workplace, or the industry, more may need to be done.  

External audits 

If your business is subject to external WHS audits, it is important to remember that you will be marked against criteria that at times can be very strict and require a lot of documentation to back up the evidence that specific tasks have been performed throughout the life of the business. 

Effective record-keeping processes are of paramount importance to survive an audit but are in essence an extremely important part of any successful business operation. 

Getting a staff member qualified  

If you think that someone within your organisation could benefit from being effectively trained in auditing processes, Asset College is able to help and can also align any previous experience to a nationally recognised qualification through Recognition of Prior Learning. 

If you’re interested in becoming an auditor, find out more about our Diploma of Quality Auditing or work health and safety courses.

You can get in touch with our friendly career consultants to get some advice on the right course for you. 

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