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Safety Audit & Energy Audit

1.Introduction

The fact that we often fail to learn from experience is commonplace. Time after time accidents occur because well established safe procedures and practices have been ignored or forgotten. Investigation will often reveal that the basic cause of an accident has been the steady deterioration of working practices since a plant was installed. It is incredible how quickly a well-constructed plant with clear procedures and safeguards can become unsafe without management or workers being aware. A short cut in procedures becomes accepted practice; a small malfunction of equipment is overcome by the operator and the 'new' procedure adopted as standard. And so it goes on, until the inevitable accident occurs and the manager cannot understand how he came to walk past the problem every day without seeing the hazard.

It is because of this that all responsible management sees the need to promote systematic and regular auditing of their safety procedures and practices.

It is the overall responsibility of management to ensure that operational related activities are adequately controlled. The responsibility covers both the human and physical elements, as accidents are often caused by failure to achieve control in these areas; accidents are not, as is often believed, the result of straightforward failures of technology, but also result from social, organisational and technical problems.

A major part of this responsibility is to make sure that personnel will not be exposed to hazards which they are unaware of or are unable to control.

This implies high technical competence, but on its own it will not ensure a consistently safe place of work. The behaviour of the human being in an advanced technological working place is also of fundamental importance.

Hazards may cause accidents. One definition of hazards is that they are unsafe acts of persons, unsafe mechanical conditions or unsafe environmental conditions.

A safety audit is aimed at the reduction of exposure to all of the aforementioned conditions as part of an overall safety programme.

The adoption of this systematic approach has, in some companies, originated from their concern generated by major accidents, or an internal realisation that safety standards may be falling, often brought about by better accident reporting and investigation.

It therefore becomes possible to publish criteria and lead plant management, with specialist assistance, into more objective analysis of their activity, with resulting improved standards becoming a useful tool for reducing accidents.

2 Scope and Purpose

2.1 Scope

These Safety Audit Guidelines have been prepared by operational experts in the Industrial Business and they not only explain how to set about introducing a comprehensive safety audit system, but also provide audit checklists for a range of activities in the Industrial Business.

This document gives general guidance information for the detection of unsafe conditions, prevention of hazards and accidents.

The specific areas covered are:

  • General site matters
  • All industries area
  • Oil & Gas company
  • Construction based company's
  • Road safety
  • Transport safety
  • House safety
  • Shop safety
  • Cylinder transport and distribution

For each of these areas a questionnaire is provided so that a standard approach can be used opposite each activity, no matter how simple or complex a site may be.

These questionnaires:

do not - include design

  • make recommendations
  • include local/national regulations

but do - cover various company practices

check that:

  • safe operating procedures exist
  • safe operating procedures are followed

must - be as exhaustive as possible

  • not constitute too large a document.

It should be realised that these guidelines do not incorporate all the requirements of local or national legislation, which will have to be inserted in the document by the reader according to local conditions.

The reader should be aware that in order to enhance the overall standard of safety performance, it is necessary to complement safety audits by safety inspections (see 5.2) and safety walks (see 5.3). As these elements are not part of the scope of this document, they are only described in brief.

2.2 Purpose

The Guidelines are presented with the real hope that all member companies who have not done so already, will introduce systems of safety audits, safety inspections and safety walks. Such action, together with the development of a correct attitude towards safety, will surely improve the safety record of individual companies - and the Industrial Gas Business as a whole.

It is intended that this document will guide those companies who have not carried out in-depth reviews of their total operation, such that using the information contained, in the way of checklists, questionnaires etc, it will enable them to carry out the necessary procedures.

For those who may have their own system, it will present a basis for comparison and may in certain areas, identify improvements that can be made.

Reasons for Safety Audit Practice

Safety audits are intended to promote, improve and then maintain good safety performance.

Safety audits (unlike accident statistics, which only record past accidents) are an instrument for the direct prevention of accidents, as they immediately generate positive actions across the whole business activity.

When accident levels have dropped to levels which are of the order of company, or IGC, targets (e.g. 10/12 accidents per million hours) as a result of the use of a good safety programme, then Safety Audits are a positive means by which performance can be further improved.

They are a structured and effective (review of the total factory which emphasises the need for good housekeeping and planned maintenance) way of preventing accidents and controlling safety hazards.

Objectives of Safety Audits

The objective of the safety audit is to evaluate the effectiveness of the company's safety effort and make recommendations which lead to a reduction in accidents and minimisation of loss potential. Safety audits are an important part of a company's control system and these checks ensure that deteriorating standards are detected. Examination of the defects exposed in this review results in hazardous conditions and potential accidents being avoided.

Regular audits should be based on the premise that resources should be made available to identify and eliminate hazards before accidents occur, rather than use the resource of manpower and materials only after injuries and damage to equipment have resulted in human suffering, significant monetary loss which, in certain circumstances, affect the profitability severely.

Mistaken belief that management and sites are operating satisfactorily within the requirements of appropriate legislation/regulations and standards/codes of practice is eradicated, and the direct contact with individual workers has as its aim the resultant change in attitude and commitment to the use of safe working practices, which continual involvement and education generate.

The safety audits will monitor all activities performed on site, and in particular:

  • The basic safety policy and organisation of the company.
  • Management commitment and example on safety matters.
  • Administration and safety activity.
  • Accident reporting and investigation.
  • Opportunity of injury – and record of every injury.
  • Safety committees.
  • Working rules and practices for each company location, including visitors and contractors.
  • Compliance with statutory regulations and company standards.
  • Behaviour and unsafe acts of personnel and their relationship to compliance with safety rules.
  • Activity related certification of employees.
  • First Aid certified employees.
  • Training needs and activities.
  • Hazards review of process equipment for either new or existing facilities.
  • Operating procedures.
  • Safety work permits.
  • Emergency procedures.

5 Description of Safety Audit Practice

Safety audit practice subjects each area of a company's activity to a systematic critical examination with the object of minimising human suffering and monetary loss. Every component of the total system is included, e.g. management policy, attitudes training, features of the process, layout and construction of the plant, operating procedures, emergency plans, personal protection standards, accident records, etc. An audit, as in the fields of accountancy, aims to disclose the strengths, the weaknesses and the main areas of vulnerability or risk, and is carried out by appropriately qualified personnel.

It is important to ensure that the attitude of all personnel to safety audit practice is positive. It may need to be pointed out that the reason for the audit is to help the plant management to establish those areas within the plant where additional effort is required to ensure safety at all times. The audit is not there to find fault with the efforts of local manage. The safety audit is an aid to sound, safe, plant management.

Audits will involve plant operatives and review training, work experience, knowledge of procedures, emergency procedures and other plant operating instructions. A formal report and action plan is subsequently prepared and monitored.

Procedures Used in Safety Audit Practice

It is an essential requirement of an audit system that it will originate, like any safety policy or safety programme, with the policy-making executive because of the monetary implications, e.g.:

  • Implications of a major disaster.
  • Running cost of a safety audit team.
  • Cost of recommended alterations.

It is important that line management accepts the objectives and supports the activity; properly assessing the audit findings and ensuring that agreed actions are carried out.

Safety Programmes embody three essential elements:

  • Safety Audits
  • Safety Inspections
  • Safety Walks.

See Appendix A for a Summary of Proposed Characteristics of Safety Audits, Safety Inspections and Safety Walks.

6.1 Safety Audits

6.1.1 Preparation

In view of reaching the aims described, every safety audit should be carefully prepared.

Questionnaires should be established for each activity and plant by the safety audit team and be approved by Company Management. Safety audit questionnaires will also include questions on general organisation, management and training.

Previous audit reports must be studied prior to the next audit to ensure that all actions from the previous audit either have been carried out satisfactorily or are included as an additional item on the current audit report.

6.1.2 Frequency of Safety Audits

As safety audits are by nature in-depth assessments of the safety situation of an activity, a frequency of one every three or four years seems to be appropriate.

The frequency will enable the audit team to better identify technical and personnel changes, evaluate the effectiveness of training at all levels, review the application of codes of practice and recent statutory regulations.

6.1.3 Safety Audit Team

Safety audits should be carried out at general management level and at each plant or site.

The audit team members should be carefully selected for their knowledge and experience in the field of audit, from general management, plant management, and other safety specialists.

For example, at plant level, the team should consist of, as a minimum:

  • Site Plant Manager
  • Site Plant Foreman
  • Safety Specialist.

As safety audits are carried out at a number of levels in a factory, e.g. small department, followed by operating and then general management level, it is essential that a team member at the lowest level is also incorporated in the next level team, and so on, so as to ensure a common approach, improved ease of reporting and communication.

When safety audits are carried out at a Main Branch satellite works, it is recommended that one of the Safety Audit Team who conducted the audit at the satellite works, participate in the Main Branch Team.

The indications given for frequency, duration, team composition and areas of activity may be adjusted according to plant size.

6.1.4 Safety Audit Report

Local management must be involved in the review of the findings of the audit team before the audit team leaves site.

Following the audits, a report should be issued containing the following:

  • A description of all findings relative to items needing a proposal for remedial action.
  • A description of any defects detected on equipment and initial proposals for remedial actions.
  • The names and job titles of those people who are responsible for initiating remedial actions.
  • The need for any revision of operating instructions or company standards.
  • Agreed target dates for completion (which realistically allow sufficient time for thorough technical assessment and consequent changes, if necessary).

Copies of the audit report shall be given to the local plant manager and to the company management, who will take decisions and supervise follow-up actions agreed by the safety audit team.

6.1.5 Monitoring and Follow-up

Monitoring of approved safety audit conclusions and recommendations is an important activity to ensure improvement of the safety level of a plant or company.

It is the responsibility of the Plant Manager to see that audit conclusions and recommendations are implemented by the agreed target dates.

6.2 Safety Inspection

A safety inspection is a scheduled inspection of a plant area, conducted by the plant supervisor or plant management member, one of the plant employees and a company safety officer.

Safety inspections will be carried out with a frequency of one year, and may last up to one or two days.

Safety inspections may cover the following subjects:

  • Housekeeping
  • Unsafe acts or conditions

It will use lists referring to specialised equipment and procedures according to activity.

The result of the safety inspection, provided by the checklists filled in by the visiting team, will be handed over to the plant manager who will be responsible for monitoring all resultant actions and follow-up.

6.3 Safety Walks

A safety walk is a scheduled or non-scheduled inspection of a plant area, conducted by local personnel, e.g. a plant management member assisted by one of the plant employees.

When scheduled, a safety walk of a plant area may be carried out every month and last one hour

It will cover the following subjects:

  • Housekeeping
  • Visible unsafe acts and conditions.

The use of a simple aide memoire is of assistance in reminding those involved of the objectives. The result of the safety walk will be recorded and reported to the plant manager who will decide on the follow-up to be given.

The team conducting the safety walk should have received adequate training in observing unsafe acts and conditions.

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