Lets first examine the types of audits that could be conducted. Most audits (and most obvious) will be site based and on your approved contractors; Asbestos Surveyors, Asbestos Analysts and Asbestos Removal Contractors (both licensed and non-licensed). [Product Audit]
But consider your site procedures, from the correct signing in of the contractors and visitors, to the availability of the asbestos registers (and other health and safety information). That first contact with contractors and visitors is key to eliminating potential disturbance of asbestos. This could be reviewed ‘Audited’ as part of a standard visit or re-inspection visit. [Process Audit]
Go back one further step, what about your overall ‘Asbestos Management Plan’, does your management plan stand up to scrutiny; is it available, up to date, understandable and achievable. Have these procedures been disseminated to site level. [System Audit]
Now that we have established auditing options, what are the benefits? For audits on your contractors the benefit should be to get a snapshot of the quality of the contractor, to review standards of work, to prevent issues. However, you will only get useful information if the audit asks and covers your key areas of concern.
If you want to assess the quality of the workmanship, then an audit that just checks paperwork/training records may not provide you with the desired information. In this case it is crucial that part of the audit ‘goal’ is to review the completed works.
It is important that you have a clear idea of WHAT you want to collect information on and WHY and HOW you will use the resulting data. Work with your auditor in agreeing the content and format of the audit and audit process and timeline.
Finally, be prepared for the results. This again links back to the WHY you want an audit. If you are not prepared to act on issues when you find them, why look for them in the first place? If you are just looking to ‘tick a box’ then you are probably wasting your time and money.
Equally, try and take the results as an opportunity to engage with your contractors and staff and not necessarily as a stick to beat them with.
Examine the route cause, is there any misunderstanding, maybe your procedures are not understood or have not been communicated properly. What are the contractors prepared to do to improve?
Utilised correctly, audits can form a valuable part of your commitment to maintaining or improving standards throughout your business and suppliers.
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