Health and Safety Audits FAQs

Our Health and Safety audit FAQs detail frequently asked questions and tailored answers related to workplace audits and HSE inspections.

Are health and safety audits mandatory?

Health and safety audits are not a legal requirement, but they are strongly recommended.

An audit identifies areas where an organisation is not legally compliant and what steps can be taken to address the shortfalls. This helps to ensure legal compliance and enables proactive risk management, creating safer working environments. It provides opportunities for continuous improvement and demonstrates a commitment to employees’ safety.

Conducting regular health and safety audits is good practice for responsible business management.

What should a health and safety audit include?

A health and safety audit is a thorough assessment of an organisation’s health and safety management system.

The audit covers health and safety policies and procedures, risk assessments, competencies and training, responsibilities, consultation and communication with employees, record keeping, accident reporting and investigation, and much more.

Additional elements of an audit depend on an organisation’s size, industry and unique activities undertaken. The typical aim of an audit is to ensure an organisation meets minimum legal compliance and promotes a strong health and safety culture.

What happens if you fail a health and safety audit?

The aim of a health and safety audit is to assess an organisation’s health and safety management system to ensure it effectively protects employees and others from harm.

If an audit reveals deficiencies or non-compliance, it’s important that an organisation takes prompt, effective action. A corrective action plan will be developed which will include specific actions, responsible individuals, timelines, and resources allocated for implementation. The auditor may work with the organisation to ensure deficiencies are addressed.

Addressing deficiencies should be on a risk-based approach, allocating resources to deal with areas which may cause serious or immediate harm first.

How often are safety audits done?

There is no specific legal requirement about the frequency of health and safety audits. How often an audit is carried out depends on the nature of activities and the level of risk.

Organisations should conduct health and safety audits regularly to make sure potential risks and compliance issues are identified and addressed promptly, and the safety management system remains effective.

For some organisations, this may mean conducting audits annually, while others with higher risk operations may benefit from more frequent audits.

An audit can be undertaken as a one-off activity targeting a very specific part of the health and safety management system, e.g. work at height, rather than the whole management system.

What are the stages of an audit in HSE?

A health, safety and environment (HSE) audit normally follows three stages:

  • Pre-audit preparation. Initial planning and preparation before the audit takes place. This includes defining the objectives of the audit and gathering documentation.
  • On-site audit. The audit is conducted to review the organisation’s HSE practices, policies, procedures and records through observation of working practices, interviews with employees and documentation examination.
  • Post-audit report. The audit team compiles their findings and recommends corrective action, risk rating and a timeline for implementation.

How often do HSE inspect?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) only inspect organisations that carry out high risk activities, and organisations that aren’t effectively controlling risks.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how often HSE inspections are conducted. It depends on the type of industry, the specific circumstances, and the level of risk associated with the activities. An inspection is more likely to occur after an incident has been reported.


What is an HSE audit and inspection?

An HSE audit is a comprehensive examination of an organisation’s health, safety and environmental management system to ensure it protects employees, visitors and the environment. An audit provides a holistic assessment to identify all potential risks to ensure they are mitigated or eliminated, and that the organisation meets minimum legal requirements.

An inspection focuses on specific areas or activities to identify and address immediate risks and non-compliance issues.