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Quality Safety Audit


Benchmark your organisation against best practice.

Effective health and safety auditing not only provides the legal framework for compliance, it also lays the foundations for continuous safety improvement to enhance competitive advantage. RoSPA'S Quality Safety Audit (QSA) system provides all this and more.

Whether you employ a RoSPA consultant to carry out the audit for you or we provide training for you to achieve competent auditor status in-house. QSA will help you get a clear return on your investment through a system which:

  • Has been tried and tested, over 14 years, in hundreds of organisations
  • Offers unrivalled flexibility, tailored to suit the risk profile of your organisation
  • Measures performance against the international best practice compliance standards of OHSAS 18001 and ISO 39001
  • Provides access to a unique benchmarking database
  • Supplies supporting information for business cases for health and safety investment
  • Delivers a realistic and pragmatic action plan based on a comprehensive report
  • Has its own dedicated awards scheme to encourage continuous improvement
  • Gives access to highly experienced auditors for training and mentoring
  • Offers access to specialist auditing software, ORBIT – saving valuable management time and resource
  • Lays the foundations for continuous health and safety performance improvement.

The Quality Safety Audit (QSA) is a unique system developed by RoSPA to provide a complete health and safety management audit system. QSA is based on the principles of HSG 65 and BS8800 and has been updated to include all parts of the guidance document OHSAS 18001. The system can be implemented into an organisation by one of RoSPA's highly experienced consultants, or we can train your staff to perform their own QSA audits.

The output from a QSA audit encourages benchmarking of your own performance year on year or against RoSPA's extensive and anonymous database of QSA clients. Where compliance to OHSAS 18001 has been demonstrated during a QSA audit, RoSPA can also confirm compliance with this best practice guidance.

The latest version of QSA (version 4) is highly flexible, allowing you to tune the audit to your organisation's risk profile. You may select 10 Risk Control Performance Indicators from a library of 38 options. However, where compliance with OHSAS 18001 is a primary objective, the choice is effectively reduced to 8 because the indicators for "Fire and Other Emergencies" and "Work Equipment" are mandatory.

Industries pay closer attention to an organisation's safety records than ever before, especially when assigning contracts.

The QSA system has been used internationally to strengthen the safety management systems of organisations with a genuine commitment to health and safety. Industries pay closer attention to an organisation's safety records than ever before, especially when assigning contracts. A good health and safety record is seen as a competitive advantage and a reflection of management strength. A QSA Award level 5 certificate can be considered one of the pinnacles of accomplishment within health and safety.

Below are just some of the organisations that are already benefiting from using the RoSPA QSA system:

Discounts are available for RoSPA Members.

  • Offers an independent third-party audit system or an in-built programme of auditor training, so that you can progressively take more control of your health and safety management systems, depending on your needs
  • Offers an objective, merit-based quantitive scoring system (with benchmarking capabilities) to measure your health and safety status
  • Includes its own dedicated awards scheme to help encourage continuous improvement through achievement and involvement
  • Is a paper based system but can be supplemented with computer software
  • Offers direct access to the expertise and back-up resources of RoSPA
  • Is completely transferable between auditors, over time and between differing organisations, providing you with uniform results even if you are multi-site or multinational.

In the interests of continuous improvement, the QSA system is regularly reviewed and updated. Version 4 was released in the summer of 2016 and is currently in use.

The HSE publication HS (G) 65 Successful Health and Safety Management, the British Standards Institute's BS 8800 A Guide to Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems and more recently OHSAS 18001 go a long way in identifying a model around which an effective management system can be developed. A vital element of the model is an audit that enables organisations to identify improvements and feed into the review process to enable improvement to take place. To support the audit process RoSPA has developed QSA, the Quality Safety Audit.

What are the main features of QSA?

  • It measures performance against the guidance of the HSE, BSI AND OHSAS
  • The results provided are quantitative to facilitate benchmarking.
  • It encourages progressive improvements in health and safety.
  • It is universal in application.
  • It embodies the principles of risk management which have formed the basis of legislation and therefore tests compliance.
  • It is supported by the training and management development resources of RoSPA.
  • It follows the principles of auditing set down in ISO 19011: 2002 for quality/environmental auditing.

How does the system work?

It is essential that the audit is carried out by a competent auditor. RoSPA's consultants can carry out the audit for you, or alternatively RoSPA provides comprehensive training for in-company auditors and when they have satisfied the required standard they are deemed competent to carry out an audit for their organisation.

The audit examines an organisation's safety management system against the elements listed in HSG 65 and BS 8800, and incorporates all of the clauses of OHSAS 18001.

The question set leads the auditor through a detailed examination of both documented procedures and the way activities are actually being controlled in practice. The use of pre-set questions enables an audit team to operate at different sites and at different times and still to come to comparable conclusions with regard to the management of health and safety.

A numerical score is allocated to each question and all the points are awarded for a yes answer, but none for a no answer, so reducing the subjectivity in scoring. The points awarded reflect the degree of importance of the question. A total score is obtained for each element and this is used to calculate a score which represents the overall performance of the organisation. This score, which is called the health and safety performing rating or HSPR, is a single figure between 1 and 100 which can be used to assist in benchmarking performance.

Under the heading of Organising, the Audit examines the way in which responsibilities within the safety management system have been allocated to policy makers, planners and implementers and that there is supporting documentation for these activities.

In essence, the QSA system adopts the HSG 65 principles of performance standards as its base. Procedures which describe how an organisation can meet the required performance standards fall into the main categories described in HSG 65:

Those which describe how the organisation will develop its safety culture under the heading of the four Cs.

  • Control
  • Co-operation
  • Communication
  • Competence

Those which describe how the organisation will control risks and relate to:

  • Corporate planning, with the setting of objectives for the organisation
  • Operational planning, centred around the assessment of risks and the setting of control measures

In addition to addressing the risk assessment process in its own right, QSA also examines performance in 10 key sets of risk control issues, focused on specific legislation and selected from a library of question sets to reflect the activities and risk profile of the organisation.

Why should employers be interested in safety auditing?

An audit is defined by the HSE as:

"The structured process of collecting independent information on the efficiency, effectiveness and reliability of the total safety management system and drawing up plans for corrective action." HSE- HSG 65.

To identify the most effective way to bring about improvement in the management of health and safety within an organisation it is important to know the starting point. Strengths and weaknesses will be identified and appropriate solutions to promote improvement can be devised.

The principle of auditing has been established for a long time in both financial management and quality assurance. The importance of audit as a tool in safety management was recognised by Desmond Fennel QC who, in his report on the King's Cross disaster, stated:

"It is essential that a system should be devised whereby safety of operation can be the subject of audit in the same way as efficiency and economy. If the internal audit has become a yardstick by which financial performance is measured only by such a tool can the board, and hence the general public be satisfied that all aspects of safety are maintained at the right level."

The pattern of health and safety legislation is quite clear since the introduction of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations in 1992, amended in 1999. Employers are required to create safety management systems which need to be supported by documented procedures if they are to be effective. To test how effective the system is a thorough audit has to be conducted. Effective and efficient management of an employer's legal obligations will ensure that valuable resources are not wasted on the wrong solutions and ensure that legal compliance can be achieved.

Why choose QSA?

QSA with its training, consultancy, and user support network provides employers with the lifeline they will require if they are to survive the radical changes still taking place in the world of safety management.

There are no short cuts or easy options for employers, but right from the very first audit the information will be available to enable the path to success to be identified.

To provide an incentive for the use of the QSA system, and to recognise levels of achievement in health and safety management, there is the option of inclusion in the RoSPA QSA Award scheme in which many organisations have chosen to become involved. There is no pass or fail in QSA, rather the system reveals levels of performance in managing health and safety effectively.

QSA is a state of the art system that undergoes regular updates to ensure that its users are keeping pace with the new demands being placed upon them.

RoSPA's QSA Switching Service

This new service from RoSPA enables you to change from your current audit system to the RoSPA QSA system with minimum inconvenience. RoSPA will transfer all your data and current health and safety successes to the HSG65-led format of this unique quantitative audit system.

The thought of changing your audit system can be daunting for many organisations, and this is why RoSPA has developed a service that will ensure that your information will be switched safely and securely. RoSPA understands the importance of benchmarking against previous years, and that is why the new seamless transfer service is so vital.

You can be assured that you will not only reap the financial benefits of switching systems, but your time and resource will be focused on continuous improvement while we handle the transfer.

One of the key benefits of a RoSPA QSA Audit is the significant reduction in accidents in the workplace. On this page you will find details of just a few of our customer experiences.

Norwich and Norfolk University Trust – case study

Company background

This is an acute teaching trust providing comprehensive general and specialist services for a population of up to 750,000 on two sites; the 987-bed Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and Cromer Hospital on the north Norfolk coast. In addition there are a further five sites that house laboratories, office staff, family planning clinic, breast screening clinic, health records library and pain management clinic.These are all in the Norwich area.

The need for auditing

The trust was going through a period of change with the building of the new hospital and in 1999 it was felt that a baseline health and safety audit by a reputable external auditor would provide the action plan required to progress and develop health and safety following the move. It would also help to identify what was needed for a new hospital site so that old habits could be broken and a fresh approach taken to manage health and safety.

Key business benefits

From a business perspective, particularly with more recent developments (for patients to‘Choose and Book' and the application to become a Foundation Trust) it is important to demonstrate that health and safety of staff and patients, visitors and contractors is taken seriously. The improving audit level achieved helps to maintain and demonstrate this commitment to health and safety.

Any financial benefits

The financial benefits are mainly hidden but include the reduction in serious incidents and therefore the number of potential claims and litigation, lost time, cover required and other associated costs.

Improvement in accident/absence statistics

Since 1999 the incident statistics, particularly those resulting in RIDDOR to HSE have been decreasing and since the high of 64 RIDDORs in 1999 the actual number last year (2006) was 16.This produces a much lower than national average (healthcare) incidence rate figure for a workforce of over 5,500 staff.

Why did you choose RoSPA?

RoSPA was chosen as the QSA system is closely aligned with HS(G)65 and this was the same structure that is used by the Trust's health and safety management system. RoSPA's reputation as a well-managed organisation that could provide on ongoing service was also a key part of the decision.

I cannot say that the period of the auditor being on site is stress free but it has proved to be a really worthwhile experience that focuses on the key issues that are required for future improvements in health and safety management. Working alongside the auditor also helps with the development of the health and safety management system key documents.

Lynne Ainge, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Case Studies

Click here to view our Case Study Showcase entries, including success stories from Trinity House, Chelmsford Borough Council and EDF Energy.

Client Outcomes

Yeo Valley

We set ourselves a target of a 10% reduction in incidents and achieved 40%. We're on target for another 30% reduction.

British Sugar

Team objective for 2007/08 is to reduce reportable Lost Time Accident frequency rates to 2.5 per million man-hours worked including Contractors. All injury accident frequency rates will be similarly reduced to 50 per million man hours worked.

Robert McBride

In the UK, lost time incidents totalled 48 for the year, an increase of 22 (85%) on last year and a reversal of the 45% reduction in accidents over the previous year – although none were major accidents.. ..due to extra business from the recent acquisitions.

The RoSPA QSA Awards Scheme recognises levels of achievement of health and safety management and helps facilitate continuous improvement and benchmarking. There is no pass or fail in the QSA Awards Scheme.

However, the worthy achievement of obtaining Platinum and Diamond Levels is rewarded via both the opportunity to attend the annual RoSPA Occupational Safety Awards presentation to collect your trophy directly from RoSPA's President and to enjoy a prestigious evening dinner, and the opportunity to enter RoSPA's main Occupational Safety Awards scheme, which is the longest running and most highly respected scheme of its type.

All those receiving a QSA Award will also further benefit from use of a dual logo, bearing RoSPA's branding and their award level.

This logo can be used in company reports and tender applications etc. to highlight the importance of safety in the eyes of your organisation.

Application for QSA Awards levels 1-5
RoSPA verification of Award level at client's site(s)*
Confirmation and issue of QSA Award level certificate (valid for two years)
Percentage score required to achieve each Award level
Level 1 30% for each subsection of the audit
Level 2 45% for each subsection of the audit
Level 3 60% for each subsection of the audit
Level 4 - Platinum 70% for each subsection of the audit
Level 5 - Diamond 80% for each subsection of the audit


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