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Health and Safety Services

Auditing for health and safety


The management of health and safety in the College is much like managing any other function in that there needs to be some assurance that the way it is being managed complies with the legal framework and also in line with the College's Health and Policy Statement. To gain that assurance the management system must from time to time be audited. An audit is an evidence gathering process. Audit evidence is used to evaluate how well audit criteria are being met. Audits must be both objective and independent and the audit process must be both systematic and documented. Which basically means ensuring that we are doing what we say we are doing.

Audits are not the same as "inspections" which are routine reviews of the environment or behaviours in order to identify any hazards or shortcomings in the way health and safety is being implemented whereas an audit might look at how inspections are being undertaken, the competence of the inspector and how any remedial actions dealt with.

The Compliance Audit Tool

At the very minimum, the College needs to comply with its legal duties in respect of health and safety. For example, risk assessments need to be undertaken for its activities, control measures identified and implemented, training given and records maintained. The Compliance Audit Tool was developed in order to identify those areas where the College might be most at risk. It is not exhaustive but it does provide an initial framework for looking at the activities of Schools, Department and Services in order to identify those areas where there may be shortcomings in the implementation of the College's policy.

The Compliance Audit Tool can be downloaded as a Word document here.


Nonconformity is the non fulfillment of a requirement or a deviation from a standard. When an organization fails to meet requirements or deviates from a standard, a nonconformity exists. The purpose of the audit is to identify those things we are doing well and also those areas where we a not conforming to the expected standard. In respect of the Compliance Audit Tool, a nonconformity might well involve identifying where the College is breaching a legal requirement, putting staff and students at risk and would therefore be a major nonconformity.

The audit process

The audit process will normally be introduced to manager in charge of the Department or Service being audited in good time to discuss the methodology. The audit will normally involve three main areas of activity; observing activities being undertaken, interviewing staff and other relevant persons, examining documents and records. The audit is only a "snapshot" of how things are being managed and not an in depth investigation. It relies on taking suitable "samples". For example, a typical audit might look at a small sample of risk assessments, a number of training records and short interviews with a few staff in different roles in the department or service to gauge how staff implement the findings of the risk assessment. The audit may look at a sample of training records or inspection documents.

Following this stage there is the preparation of a short report which is discussed with the Department Head or Service Manager to discuss the contents and to develop an action plan in order to address any nonconformities that are identified. The audit report and action plan are then finalised and signed off by the Department Head or Service Manager and the auditor retains a copy.


A summary of the findings of audits and remedial actions will be made to the College Health and Safety Committee which has an overall duty to monitor health and safety performance. A summary of outcomes will be included in the Chair's annual report to the Finance and General Purposes Committee and thereafter to the Governors who have overall responsibility for health and safety.

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Health & Safety Services, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX. Tel: 020 7631 6218, email: