The Evaluation of health and safety auditing systems
The specific objective of the research was to evaluate proprietary audit systems. Proprietary audit systems comprise question sets containing approximately 500 questions dealing with selected aspects of health and safety management. Each question is allotted a number of points and an organisation seeks to judge its health and safety performance by the overall score achieved in the audit. Initially it was considered that the evaluation method might involve comparing the proprietary audit scores with other methods of measuring safety performance. However, what appeared to be missing in the first instance was information that organisations could use to compare the contrast question set content against their own needs. A technique was developed using the computer database FileMaker Pro. This enables questions in an audit to be sorted into categories using a process of searching for key words. Questions that are not categorised by word searching can be identified and sorted manually. The process can be completed in 2-3 hours which is considerably faster than manual categorisation of questions which typically takes about 10 days. The technique was used to compare and contrast three proprietary audits: ISRS, CHASE and QSA. Differences and similarities between these audits were successfully identified. It was concluded that in general proprietary audits need to focus to a greater extent on identifying strengths and weaknesses in occupational health and safety management systems. To do this requires the inclusion of more probing questions which consider whether risk control measures are likely to be successful.