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Carrying out the audit

Allow enough time to carry out the audit.  At large sites it is likely that the audit will have to be carried out over a period of time.  Plan the time and stay to plan as far as possible.  The audit does not have to be done in one go, so be realistic.  The audit process is part of the function of supervision and monitoring so it is useful if it is seen to be a regular on-going process rather than a one-off event. 

Remember that the purpose of the audit is to uncover weaknesses in the system.  Finding weaknesses is therefore a success and action taken as a result of the audit may prevent serious accidents or death.

Planning the audit is critical.  The size of the site and complexity of plant and equipment is likely to be a significant factor in terms of the amount of planning required.  However, regardless of the size of the organisation there are key considerations at the planning stage.  For example;

  •       Involve the workforce.  Ensure that the workforce is fully briefed on the purpose of any audit and encourage them to become involved. 
  •      Remember that it is often the workforce who are the most informed. 
  •       Encouraging a ‘just culture’ will help you discover more.

People are critical to the audit:

  •       Decide who will carry out the audit, it may be an individual or teams.
  •      Take time to brief them and train them if necessary.
  •      Check their competence and understanding of the process.
  •       Make time available to them.

There are a number of ways the audit can be carried out.  The questions move through a logical sequence and follow under the headings of equipment, processes and people.  There is also flexibility to split the task of auditing amongst members of a team with responsibilities for different areas of the site, for example.  It doesn’t matter how the audit is carried out or over how long a period, it is the rigour and integrity that matters.

Remember contractors.  They should be included in the audit process.  Regular contractors may be responsible for isolating plant and machinery so involve them in the audit process including any planning so that they can contribute their knowledge and understanding.  For other contractors check that procedures for managing isolations are in place, understood and effective.


Useful references

QNJAC, The Management of Electrical Safety in Quarries, Associated Plant and Equipment. (Available at qnjac.co.uk and safequarry.com).  All electrical systems provided for achieving isolation need to be inspected and maintained.  This document provides useful guidance on schemes of inspection and maintenance. 

Managing for Health and Safety HSG65.  Includes the widely recognised and used PLAN, DO, CHECK, ACT model to represent good management of Health and Safety.  Checking or auditing plays an invaluable part in feedback to inform organisations of how deeply imbedded systems and procedures are in reality.

The Safe Isolation of Plant and Equipment HSG253.  Primarily aimed at high hazard industries but contains some useful references including an alternative audit checklist that may inform organisations with complex processes looking beyond this guidance.

The Mineral Products Association, MPA, have produced guidance on LOTOTO which has widely been accepted as good practice in the mineral products industry.  Individual copies are available, and it is also available to download from safequarry.com.