In Brief

  • Learn why fleet audits are important and how to manage a fleet-focused audit process.

  • Explore the scope of an audit and identify elements of a comprehensive fleet audit.

  • Define a comprehensive fleet audit process that may be used to identify findings that help drive change and develop effective corrective and preventive actions.

Auditing: The word can scare the most seasoned safety professional. The fear of finding the unknown has kept many people from performing the necessary task of reviewing and examining the policies and procedures put in place to keep people safe. Compare this to not seeing a doctor for fear of the diagnosis.

An audit is defined as a systematic, methodical review of safety policies, procedures, rules and regulations. The goal is to determine how current systems are working and whether they can be improved through revision, reworking or revocation. An audit is not simply:

  • a checklist;

  • an inspection;

  • a discipline tool;

  • something done on an ad hoc basis.

A checklist is a tool, often used during an audit to ensure that the auditor remembers everything s/he needs to assess. For example, a checklist may be used to determine whether the site has enough fire extinguishers or whether safety meetings were conducted. An inspection is another tool to evaluate things and behaviors. An inspection provides a snapshot of current conditions but does not validate whether systems and procedures are working properly and if not, why they are not.

When performed correctly, audits provide an assessment of the overall management system in place to manage the fleet and fleet risk. Audits may be formal or informal, and may be conducted by external or internal auditors. An example of an informal audit is one performed routinely by a supervisor with oversight responsibilities. By design, formal audits yield a final written work product that should be reviewed by those held accountable for policy implementation. Once language is agreed on, the report should guide corrective and preventive action plans.

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