By Isaac Mwangi | Friday Oct 6, 2017
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) 2007 requires every occupier of a workplace to cause a thorough safety and health audit of his workplace to be carried out at least once in every period of twelve months by a safety and health advisor. The safety and health adviser is required to issue a report of such an audit containing the prescribed particulars to the occupier on payment of a prescribed fee and shall send a copy of the report to the Director.
Safety and health advisers are approved by the Directorate of Occupational Safety and Health Services (DOSHS) under the Ministry of East Africa Community, Labour and Safety Protection. Such persons are required to hold a minimum qualification of a certificate in occupational safety and health from a recognized institution and have proven practical experience in this field for a period of five years. The registration has to be renewed each year. A list of approved safety and health advisers is available on the DOSHS website. According to a circular released in October 2016, DOSH prohibits any approved person from conducting an audit or medical examination at the same workplace for more than two consecutive years. A panel appointed by the Director ensures professional ethics of all approved persons including safety advisers and may recommend disciplinary action against those found culpable of malpractice.
Once an occupier identifies a safety adviser and agrees on contract terms, the safety adviser should schedule a site visit and notify the occupier of any items that may be required for the audit. This may include documentation, availability of guides, meeting venue etc.
The approved safety adviser is then required to notify the County Occupational Safety and health Office in writing 14 days before conducting an audit, with a copy sent to the Director (DOSH). The notice should indicate the name of the workplace to be audited as well as the contact person at that workplace.
The process of carrying out an OSH Audit is guided by the Code of Practice on OSH Auditing published by the Directorate. Different Safety advisers may have different approaches to carrying out the audit but must follow the guidelines provided. The director of DOSH may assign an officer to monitor and supervise the audit exercise.
The audit process may include a desktop review of the safety and health documents available (Safety Policy, Safety and Health Management System, Safe systems of Work etc.). The process also involves site inspection and a final meeting with the in-charge of organization safety for debrief on the preliminary findings.
In carrying out the audit exercise, the safety adviser may require a guide with good knowledge of the premises and the working environment of the organization. The adviser may offer some recommendations verbally during the audit hence the need to have someone competent to on OSH matters as a guide.
The safety adviser is also required to sign on the back cover of the General Register indicating the dates and time of the Audit exercise. This should also be countersigned by the occupier.
The safety adviser will send a preliminary report on the OSH audit to the organization representatives for verification and confirmation. This is either done in soft or hard copies. The organization should review the preliminary report and indicate their affirmations and or reservations. These may be included in the final report.
The safety adviser should then prepare at least six copies of the final report and submit these to the occupier for confirmation and authentication by signing and stamping the acknowledgement page of every report and return these back to the safety adviser.
The safety adviser is required to submit the reports to the County Occupational Safety and Health Office whose jurisdiction covers the place of audit within 30 days following the audit. The OSH officer is required to analyse the report to ensure it meets the required standards as prescribed in the code of practice, applicable rules and the Act (OSHA).
The area officer is also required to stamp and acknowledge receipt of the reports. If a report is deficient, the officer should notify the safety adviser in writing and demand remedy. Copies of the letter to the adviser should be sent to the Director and the occupier. A copy of the report shall be submitted to the Director and must bear signatures from the County OSH officer. A copy of the signed audit report is also sent to the occupier for their records.