Robust Audit Management for Continuous Improvement of Safety Performance
Vancouver-based Finning is one of the world’s largest dealers of Caterpillar construction equipment and heavy machinery. The company currently employs nearly 13,000 people worldwide and has on-ground operations in Western Canada, South America, the UK, and Ireland. Founded in 1933, the company sells, rents, and provides after-sales services and parts replacement for customers in several industries including mining, construction, oil & gas, forestry, and energy & power.
For Finning, safety management was a critical factor for business success..They wanted to do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of their people and their customers. To make this happen, the company designed a robust audit management workflow.
The audit process was designed to “spot gaps” related to equipment maintenance, training, SOP documentation, parts replacement process, in-location safety audits, remote audits, etc. The company used ComplianceQuest to automate key elements of the EHS workflow, and this played a key role in driving safer performance and enabling Continuous Improvement (CI).
Systematic Review of Safety Processes and Workflows
Regulatory bodies such as OSHA emphasize the importance of continuous improvement for better safety performance. This is possible only when businesses review their safety practices periodically, identify gaps, and fine-tune the overall safety management program to fill the gaps.
In some companies, there may be a gap (from a safety perspective) due to a lack of proper training. In others, outdated equipment maintenance processes can lead to additional safety risks. A good audit process will help you uncover these gaps and blind spots. Periodic audits, supported by top-notch documentation, are critical to driving up safety performance.
This is made possible through audits conducted by internal and external people such as experts in the field and professional auditors. An audit refers to the systematic review of safety practices and procedures – with the goal of ensuring that it is in line with the company’s safety policy.
Safety audits are typically conducted in the manufacturing unit, storage areas, warehouses, suppliers, and so on – along with a review of the associated documents. It also includes interviews of operations personnel to understand whether the processes are implemented diligently. If there were any incidents, then the root cause is also assessed.
The data and reports from the safety audits can help safety leaders and the management with insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the safety initiatives. It helps to ensure that all safety-related policies, procedures, and controls are observed and are effective in reducing risks. Based on the findings, the management and the safety team can introduce changes to improve the safety management processes.
Outcomes from a Safety Audit
By performing periodic audits, businesses can:
- Uncover hidden safety hazards
- Identify opportunities to improve safety compliance
- Determine other areas of improvement
The ultimate impact of audits is the continuous improvement of the safety program. By providing leaders with insights into challenges and opportunities, they empower them to fine-tune the safety procedures and policies based on the facts and real needs. It helps with setting realistic and clear goals, optimizing resource utilization, and even monitoring remote locations to ensure organization-wide compliance.
The reports created by the auditors also act as documents that can be used to demonstrate compliance. These can be shared with all relevant stakeholders so that all departments are aligned and can work as one unit to improve safety in their areas. As a good safety audit report also comes with recommendations, it provides the direction for continuous improvement. These reports and recommendations trigger corrective and preventive actions to correct the issue and prevent future recurrence.
Automation and Digital Transformation of Audit Management Processes
Finning, the company we mentioned earlier, expected the safety audits to be able to help them identify their challenges and opportunities at the various sites they were operating in. But with a manual system for safety management, they found it difficult to keep track of progress, close the loop, assess the effectiveness, and implement changes.
In 2019, they decided they needed to automate and digitally transform their EHS solution.
The company implemented the cloud-based ComplianceQuest Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) management solution across all its locations globally and configured it to work for both online and offline situations. When internet connectivity was available, site safety auditors were able to access all the documents at their fingertips and generate reports in real-time. In remote locations that didn’t have internet access, they could create a draft in the CQ app and save it locally till they get a connection and can synchronize it.
The immediate impact the business saw was in shortening the audit time from two weeks to a day. They were able to streamline the entire process and it also increased visibility into the corrective actions taken at the site where the audit was performed. The leaders could share report data to the applicable site/location to communicate CAPA requirements and next steps.
They were able to monitor progress on these recommendations, assess the effectiveness, and make global changes to policies to ensure standardization and continuous improvement.
Since all the records, communications, performance assessments, and reports were available in the CQ platform, document management and compliance also improved. Adherence to local regulations also became possible, further enhancing the business’s capability to manage safety in multiple locations with varying needs.
ComplianceQuest’s Audit Management Solution
ComplianceQuest’s Audit Management solution is an integral part of its EHS platform. Businesses wishing to improve their safety performance progressively can leverage the integrated platform for end-to-end safety management. The audit management solution can be integrated with document management, training, permit-to-work, inspection, incident management, environment, supplier, management review, and reports and dashboards to manage safety end-to-end.
In audit management, businesses can manage the entire workflow from audit planning and preparation to audit reports and closures in one place. It can help companies to be audit-ready, provide the management with a tower of data to make fact-based decisions, and continuously improve safety management.
To know more about how CQ’s Audit Management solution can help your organization improve its safety performance, visit https://www.compliancequest.com/lp/audit-management/