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Inspections or Audits? An overview to give you a better understanding

Inspections or Audits? An overview to give you a better understanding

We would all have to agree... High risk operations leave minimal to virtually no room for error. Safety is paramount to reduce the chances of occupational mishaps.

Offshore diving companies and those handling ROV equipment figure prominently on the list of high risk operations. Hence, it is required for offshore diving and ROV companies to conduct regular checks of their project sites and equipment.

Unfortunately, such organisations or their site managers are often unsure of what inspections or audits entail and tend to opt for the wrong one, resulting in overlooked health and safety aspects. It is therefore, vital to not only initiate regular inspections or audits but more importantly, understand the differences between the two. This can assist in getting the most out of these exercises and ensure maximum safety, both in and out of the water.

What happens in an inspection?

Health and safety professionals conduct safety inspections primarily to check if the safety equipment that's been installed on-site and is operating in a safe manner. Often, it is conducted regularly by internal employees and could be in a form of checklist via a visual inspection in which the existing control and safety measures are studied and remedial action is suggested. Inspections help to identify not only unsafe conditions but also any unsafe acts, if taking place.

Limitations of safety inspections 

Though many offshore diving companies conduct inspections via supervisors, operatives or safety representatives to regularly monitor work place safety practices, inspections often fall short due to their limitations. This occurs when the inspection check lists are not accurately filled due to delayed entry of information, lethargy on the part of the one conducting the inspection or the inability to identify the exact cause of a particular lapse. Another factor leading to inaccurate observations is when employees alter their behaviour during inspection checks, leading to misguided analysis, the person carrying out the inspection maybe knowledgeable with the equipment and process but to close to the actual work site so unable to see the broader affects. Plus certain safety inspections are often restricted to specific departments or processes, making it difficult to obtain the whole picture.

So, what is an Audit?

An audit is a thorough, time consuming and effective method of checking. It is usually conducted by an in-house or third-party auditor that is professionally qualified to do the assessment. This detailed examination involves a highly structured process of information collection on the reliability, effectiveness and efficiency of the entire health and safety system, followed by in-depth plans towards across-the-board improvement. In fact, the entire audit process involves meticulous planning and implementation. 

Unlike safety inspections, audits include reviewing relevant documentation and testimonial interviews of personnel, added to visual inspection. They also check policy compliance and awareness of internal staff of the company's health and safety policies. A report is then generated that offers insight into legal compliance, policy adherence, and non-conformities if any. Correction action steps are provided while the implications of taking these steps are explained in detail.

Using the model ‘Plan-Do-Check-Act’ (PDCA) cycle, one can relate that inspections are a ‘Do’ while audits are a ‘Check’. An audit is the process of ensuring that compliance obligation have been satisfied and that it covers the required inspections. It is recommended that organisations should conduct periodic or annual audit to check its compliance with the requirement to do the inspections.

KBA's Auditing Services

At KB Associates, we offer official and independent audit of related equipment for project operations. Our audit services cover:

  • Diving System Audits (In accordance with IMCA D023, IMCA D024, IMCA D037, IMCA D40 audit guidance notes and D014 International Code of Practice for Offshore Diving). 
  • ROV System Audits (In accordance with IMCA R006 audit guidance note). 
  • Vessel System Audits 
  • Company Management System Audits
  • Safety management system audits
  • Health Check audits
  • Food Hygiene audits
  • Medical facilities offshore / onshore audits  
  • Development of Diving Systems FMECA 

To know more about KB Associates' Auditing Services, please contact us.

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