A health and safety audit is a systematic review and evaluation of an organisation’s health and safety policies, procedures, practices, and conditions.

The primary purpose of the audit is to assess the effectiveness of the organization’s health and safety management system in promoting and maintaining a safe and healthy work environment for all staff, contractors, clients and any other persons on the premises.

In preparing for the audit, you want to ensure your workplace procedures and processes stand up to the scrutiny of an auditor. Here’s how.

Understand Regulatory Requirements

The first step in preparing for an audit is a comprehensive understanding of the relevant health and safety regulations applicable to your industry.

Auditors will assess whether your organisation is complying with relevant health and safety laws and Approved Codes of Practice (ACOPs).

Stay informed about any recent updates or changes to ensure your workplace remains compliant. The HSE is the best place to look for updates on any UK legislation.

Conduct Internal Health and Safety Audits

Regular internal audits are very useful as it is through these that you can identify and subsequently rectify any potential compliance issues or shortcomings.

Assess your current health and safety practices, documentation, and protocols to address any gaps.

Establish Clear Policies and Procedures

Clearly defined health and safety policies and procedures form the foundation of compliance. During an audit, they will be reviewed by the auditor to ensure they are comprehensive, up-to-date and effectively communicated to your employees.

Ensure that your workplace has documented and communicated guidelines covering aspects such as emergency procedures, hazard reporting, and PPE usage.

Employee Training and Awareness

Auditors will assess whether employees receive adequate training on health and safety matters, including proper use of equipment, emergency procedures, and hazard awareness. Therefore, make sure you conduct regular training to keep staff up to date on your safety protocols.

Maintain Accurate Documentation

Ensure that all documentation, including incident reports, training records, and safety inspections, is up-to-date, organised, and easily accessible.

Emergency Preparedness

Auditors assess an organisation’s readiness to respond to emergencies, such as fires, chemical spills or medical emergencies.

Make sure your emergency preparedness plans, including evacuation procedures and communication protocols are up to date and properly communicated to all staff.  For instance, fire drills should be conducted regularly – at the very least, annually – to ensure that employees are familiar with emergency procedures.

Equipment and machinery

If your workplace involves the use of machinery or equipment, regular maintenance and proper controls are essential. Auditors will check the availability of safety equipment and the effectiveness of controls as part of their audit.

Ensure that all equipment is inspected, serviced, and certified as per regulatory requirements to prevent accidents and maintain compliance.

Check the availability and proper use PPE.

Ensure all necessary safety signage is provided and displayed promininently.

Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment

Auditors will identify and evaluate potential hazards and risks in the workplace, such as unsafe working conditions, hazardous materials, machinery, or processes.

Regularly review your hazard identification and risk assessment processes to ensure they are up-to-date, comprehensive and relevant.

Engage in Continuous Improvement

A proactive approach to health and safety involves an ongoing commitment to improvement. Encourage feedback from employees, make health, safety and wellbeing an item on every meeting agenda, conduct regular safety meetings, and use audit findings as opportunities to enhance existing processes.

Prepare for the Audit Day

Prior to the external audit, organise all necessary documentation, schedules, and records. Assign responsibilities to designated personnel for the audit day, ensuring a smooth and efficient process.


After conducting the audit, auditors typically provide a report detailing their findings, observations, and recommendations for improvement. This report will serve as a roadmap for your organisation to enhance its health and safety performance and ensure ongoing compliance with regulatory requirements. Ultimately, the commitment to health and safety compliance reflects a commitment to the welfare of both employees and the overall success of the organisation.

Find out more about managing health and safety compliance on our Health and Safety Competent Person Course.

Published On: February 12th, 2024