Occupational Health and Safety Audits

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Members of the OHSaW Team will be engaged in a new programme of health and safety audits of faculty offices, academic departments and Professional Services, commencing in September 2016.

Each year, a number of health and safety themes will be the subject of audit and University functional units that are scheduled for audit will be contacted directly by a member of the audit team.  Below is some background information which explains the audit process for the benefit of auditees.  If you require further information please contact Arnold Clements (Ex 2079).


Audit Rationale

Through its Strategic Plan 2015 - 2020 and Occupational Health, Safety & Wellbeing Strategy 2016 - 2021, the University is committed to ensuring it has a consistent and robust model for health and safety, and that health and safety considerations are properly embedded in its operating procedures.

To help deliver this strategic goal, an audit process, which is approved by both the University Court and the SACSOH Committee, has been incorporated in the University's Occupational Health & Safety Management System. Thus, the Occupational Health & Safety Management System of each academic department and professional service directorate will be audited according to a progamme devised and delivered by OHSaW.

The audit process is aligned to the University Sector Health And Safety Management Profile (HASMAP) standards and audit process.

Audit Definition

In this context, audit is defined by the Health and Safety Executive as ‘the structured process of collecting independent information on the efficiency, effectiveness and reliability of the total health and safety management system and drawing up plans for corrective action.’

It should be noted that an audit will not attempt to provide a definitive report on workplace conditions throughout a department, although it will seek to verify strengths and weaknesses in the management of health and safety.

Audit Objectives

With regard to each department’s occupational health and safety management system, the auditing objectives are:

  • To identify good practices and areas for improvement.
  •  To determine how well it conforms to the University’s Occupational Health and Safety Policy;
  • To determine its effectiveness in managing the risks to health and safety arising from the department’s activities;
Audit Benefits

An audit can have the following benefits for departments:

  • It identifies good practices which give reassurance to staff, together with areas of concern, which if addressed will help avoid potential incidents and business losses.
  • It raises the profile of health and safety matters among management, staff and students;
  • It provides an independent evaluation of the level of compliance to OHS Policy, to help promote a consistent model across the University;
  • It provides information on how effectively systems and procedures are being implemented, to enable management to balance the allocation of resources;
Audit Scope & Reference Frameworks

The auditors will consider specific Indicators and Themes of the Occupational Health and Safety Management system that have been selected for audit during the current University Audit Programme. The HASMAP Guide provides the full range of Indicators and Themes as well as detailing the standards expected.

The following will be used as references against which to compare performance:

  • University Sector Health and Safety Management Profile (HASMAP) Guide
  • Successful Health and Safety Management – HSE (HSG65) 
  • University Occupational Health and Safety Policy 
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations
  • Other applicable legislation with respect to a department’s undertaking
Audit Methodology

Each audit will be undertaken by one or more qualified, experienced Safety Advisers from Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing and generally involves a combination of meetings, appreciation of operational issues, reviews of documentation and interviews. The pattern is usually as follows:

An Opening Meeting (40 minutes) – to meet Dean/Head of Department/Director of Professional Service and DSC, and to discuss scope of audit

A Pre-Audit Escorted Visit (1-2 hours) – where required, to visit key operational areas and gain an appreciation of undertakings

An On-Site Audit (1-2 days) – to review samples of relevant documentation and to interview selected members of staff and possibly students

Writing of Draft Audit Report (1-2 weeks)

A Closing Meeting (40 minutes) – to present key findings and recommendations to Dean/ Head of Department/Directorate and DSC

A Three-month follow-up – to request an update on progress in implementing recommendations.

Audit Preparations

Pre-Audit Data

To help determine the scope of the audit, each Departmental Safety Convenor (DSC) will be requested to complete and return a Pre-Audit Data-Gathering Form (insert link to blank copy) in advance of the opening meeting with the Executive Dean/Head of Department/Director of Professional Service and DSC.


The auditors will wish to review samples of various documents and records that provide evidence of performance.  A range of items (if they already exist within the department) that could be made available to the auditors is shown at the following links:

Typical Documentation - Science / Engineering Faculties  

Typical Documentation - Non-Science / Engineering Faculties


The auditors may request the DSC to make arrangements for an escorted visit to operational areas and for particular staff to be interviewed.

Audit Outputs

A Draft Audit Report containing Key Findings and Recommendations will be discussed with the Dean/Head of Department/Director at the audit closing meeting. Where any corrections or changes are agreed, an amended draft audit report will be returned to the Dean/Head of Department/Director and DSC.

Once in receipt of a completed draft audit report, the Dean/Head of Department/Director should arrange to prepare a Management Action Plan and return it to Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing within the agreed timescale. The draft audit report together with the management action plan will constitute the Final Audit Report.

Summary results of each audit will be shared with the respective Executive Dean of Faculty, the Statutory Advisory Committee on Safety and Occupational Health, the Risk Group and the Audit Committee for purposes of monitoring health and safety management and identifying significant business risks within the University.

Please Note: 

Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing staff are available to advise on developing and implementing a department's Management Action Plan.

Please contact us as necessary on Ext. 2726



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