Departmental Safety Audit Scheme
Legal Requirement for Safety Audit
The Occupational Safety & Health Ordinance (OSHO), enacted in 1997, has imposed general duties on HKUST to ensure the safety and health at work of all its employees. An effective safety and health management system is necessary and is expected for the proper fulfillment of such "duties". The Labour Department's initial safety audit (conducted in December 1998) recommended the strengthening of the "Safety Management System" at the department (unit) level as an integral part of the Safety Management System for the entire University. The conduct of safety audits is an essential elements of the safety management system, and is a proper means to demonstrate and document management's efforts in carrying out its legal duties to ensure the health and safety of its employees and students. While periodic safety audits have to be conducted at the University level, it is also necessary for safety audits to be conducted at departmental (unit) level.
Operational Need for Safety Management and Audits
The University is involved in various "risky" business in that new processes are constantly being tried out and students are constantly being trained on operations involving hazardous materials and equipment. This requires an appropriate safety management system to systematically and effectively control and minimize the risks.
Periodic safety audits are essential for reviewing whether the necessary safety management arrangements are in place and whether they are properly implemented.
As discussed and resolved at the Environmental, Health and Safety Committee (EHSC), a Departmental Safety Audit Scheme with appropriate auditing tools has been developed for departments to conduct periodic safety audits/reviews internally by appropriate personnel within the respective departments/units.
The Departmental Safety Audit Scheme
This Scheme is developed based on the Safety and Health Management System developed with reference to similar systems applicable to the operations of the University.
A checklist has been developed to help departments to conduct their safety audits with minimum difficulties and hassles. Notes on how to use the checklist are printed on the top of the Checklist. Users can also get more detailed information and guidance on what each of the items in the Checklist means from the "htm version" published on the HSEO Web.
Aim for Continuous Improvement
The Audit Checklist may not have covered every detailed requirement as included in many other safety audit schemes. However, such coverage is considered appropriate and realistic for safety audits carried out the first time for most departments. This can be regarded as a "base-line" safety review on which further development of safety management arrangements would be built as necessary. The Checklist will be revised as appropriate in our future safety audits.
Who is to conduct the Safety Audit
As this is an internal safety audit, the Head of Department/Unit (HoD) can appoint an appropriate person (or a group) to conduct the audit. The auditors can be the DSOs/DDSOs or other personnel.
Submission of Safety Audit Checklist/Report
The completed checklist (with appropriate documentation support) can serve as the Audit Report. It should be signed by the Auditor and endorsed by the HoD and then submitted to the Dean (and HSEO).
Follow-up and continuing improvement efforts
HSEO and representatives from the School will review the received audit reports and follow up with the respective departments for necessary enhancement efforts.
General Guidelines for conducting the Safety Audit
The Audit Scheme is developed based on the established Departmental Health and Safety Management Guide and other established health and safety practices at HKUST. You should make reference to this "Management Guide" (appropriate hyperlinks are established for easy cross-reference) when conducting the Audit.
The conduct of the Audit should comprise three major aspects of efforts, namely: Documentation review, Physical Inspections of selected activities and workplaces, and Interviews with selected personnel.
The Audit should focus mainly on “up-stream” management efforts and arrangements for ensuring that all major hazards can be identified and controlled in an effective manner. The physical conditions in the workplaces should also be inspected (selectively) for verification purpose.
Two sets of Safety Audit/Review checklists have been developed.
The Full Checklist is designed to scrutinize in more detail the safety management system of a unit that possesses a wide range of significant risks which require a more sophisticated system of control and monitoring. This applies generally to units having laboratory activities.
The Simplified Checklist consists fewer items selected from the Full Checklist. This is considered more appropriate to a lower risk unit where a simpler safety management system is all that is required. This applies generally to administrative units in the AB Branch and units in the AA Branch where no laboratory activities is required.