Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Getting Ready For A Safety Audit, and Blogging About It!

The nice thing about preparing for a safety audit within a few months of starting a new job is that I get to learn my new building inside and out in record time. The audit performed by our school division is pretty comprehensive: over 130 pages of checklists and requests for artifacts. Ratings range from "fully implemented" to "not implemented". I actually spent a good chunk of my winter break pouring over these checklists to make sure I had all my ducks in a row for a successful safety audit.

Here are some things I learned in the process:  

Review your previous audit, even if it was from a few years ago, and criteria have changed.
  • What were commendations and recommendations made by the audit team?
  • Are there any recommendations that weren't acted upon? Why weren't they? 
Have a variety of different people perform a "pre-audit" of your building.
  • People who don't visit your school on a daily basis are a great resource because they will look at the safety of your building from a completely different perspective. 
  • Ask staff members to tour parts of the building they wouldn't normally go. You will be surprised with what they will notice!
  • Talk with your parents and students. Get their thoughts on how safe they perceive their school to be. 
  • Police and Fire Personnel – Many secondary schools have police contacts, but not everyone takes the time to include the local fire captain. Reach out to them. Invite them to tour your building and give them an open invitation to your safety committee meetings. These individuals can be especially helpful in making sure drill procedures and routines in place are appropriate for the situation. 
Keep your safety related artifacts in one location.
  • Each section of the audit in our division has a page that tell us which artifacts the team will be reviewing.  Much of the time I’ve spent preparing for this involved gathering these artifacts. They include copies of facilities manuals, MSDS information, maps, protocols, and handbooks. Thankfully, most of these are available in an electronic format, and the school system allows us to share the artifacts electronically. I took these artifacts and loaded them to a Google site I created. This way, auditors only have to go to one location to look at our artifacts. 
Many school divisions perform safety audits of their facilities every two or three years. Safety protocols and procedures can be effectively reviewed on off years by maintaining an active committee tasked with making sure components of the protocol remain relevant. Keeping those components in a format that is easily revised (like Google Docs) is helpful when corrections/additions need to be made. 

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