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Safety Inspections vs. Safety Audits – What is the Difference?

Safety audit

Knowing the difference between a safety audit and a safety inspection will increase safety continuity throughout the workplace.  They are often thought of as one and the same, but they are actually two different processes. Both are key when taking steps to improve worksite safety.

It is important to know the difference between an audit and inspection and when to utilize them in order to keep your company in compliance, increase worker safety, and reduce accidents that could lead to workers compensation claims.

Safety Audit

A safety audit examines a company’s EHS related processes and procedures. The focus is on determining whether a company is compliant with EHS regulations. An evaluation of the audit will determine whether there are gaps or weaknesses in the programs or procedures. A company can be compliant with the regulations, but still have weaknesses within a program or procedure. Strengthening any identified weaknesses may not be required, but it will certainly help improve the program. Safety audits are generally completed by an outside unbiased professional.

Safety Inspection

A safety inspection is a process used to identify and document EHS hazards and unsafe practices in the workplace. A good safety inspection will determine whether safeguards are in place, identify equipment hazards, and may include industrial hygiene sampling for hazardous substances. Safety inspections generally benefit employees who are familiar with the workplace and are generally completed internally.

Improving Workplace Safety

Safety audits and safety inspections are both critical tools that should be used in order to achieve Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) compliance. The main difference between the two is identifying whether you are trying to focus on workplace hazards or on the processes used to prevent hazards. Safety compliance cannot be achieved unless the focus is on both.

Safety audits and inspections strive for a safer workplace and compliance with all regulations. They both also assess relevant OSHA standards, best practices, and other recommended precautions. Knowing when and how to use them will improve your companies EHS programs, policies, procedures and workplace safety.

For more information please contact our partners at OSEA, Inc. who specialize in workplace safety.

Author: Tiffany Bartz
Environmental Health & Safety Manager – OSEA, Inc.