When OSHA conducts a safety inspection, you don’t want them to find any surprise safety failings. For this reason, a companies should always hold safety self-audits. Although OSHA does not mandate these audits, the inspector will ask to see your internal audit records to analyze what hazards were preexisting and what steps you have taken to rectify the identified issues.
Though these audit records are not technically required, they are a great asset during your official inspection and for your overall business. OSHA has promised to treat self-audits as helpful measures rather than evidence of a willful violation, so your company is protected and does not need to worry that the hazards you detail in the audit report will be cause for citations – assuming you have made an effort to remedy them!
Safety inspections and safety audits have the same goals, and both are crucial to ensuring that your company’s workspace is safe and compliant. Both rely on OSHA standards to assess safety. However, the safety audit is somewhat more comprehensive than an inspection in that it asks you to look at the safety inspection process itself and many other managerial processes as well. The audit will analyze the ways in which your company identifies and responds to hazards. An inspection is more about looking for specific hazards themselves.
Safety audits are, again, not legally required by OSHA as part of the inspection process. However, they are an invaluable tool and should not be overlooked as a key part of workplace safety. The audit allows you to analyze how prepared or unprepared your company is to deal with hazards, and examines both the strengths and weaknesses of your established program. When you conduct regular voluntary safety audits, you are investing time in creating a better workplace for your employees as well as an improved hazards identification and remediation process that will better serve every aspect of your company.