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Safety Management Systems - FSC Auditing Guide
Posted on September 28th, 2015

The Australian Government publishes a plain english guide to the auditing criteria for the "FSC Safety Scheme for Government Construction Projects". It's a useful resource for other safety systems too.

To tender for Australian federal government construction projects over a threshold value, companies must be accredited to the Australian Government Building and Construction Work Health and Safety Accreditation Scheme. The Scheme sets very high safety standards and there is evidence that it has been effective in improving safety in the industry.

We recently came across a really valuable resource that’s worth looking at for anyone building a Safety Management System, regardless of whether they are seeking accreditation to this Scheme.

The Scheme was reviewed in 2014 and an updated version was released at the beginning of 2015. One of the things that came out of the 2014 review of the Scheme was the need for ‘plain english’ guidance for the audit criteria.

The result is the FSC Audit Criteria Guidelines (FSC = Federal Safety Commissioner). For each criteria in the Scheme, the guidelines spell out exactly what evidence an auditor is looking for, and also what won’t meet the criterion. No doubt, this guidance comes from auditor experience!

Here’s an example:

WH3.3 (the criterion)
“There is a documented process to ensure changes to health and safety legislation, codes of practice and Australian standards relevant to the company and project are reviewed and processes updated as required.”

Scope (an explanation of what it means)
This criterion requires the company to define the process for identifying changes to the applicable legal requirements, reviewing the impact of any identified change and the prompt to review the relevant procedures that may be affected.

Possible Evidence (examples of evidence showing this process is actually happening)

  • Subscription to on-line update services.
  • Legal register at company/project levels.
  • Process to review the company/project legal registers at designated frequencies to identify potential changes.
  • Corrective action or change management process/records.
  • Process to review the legal registers.

Notes (examples of what would not be sufficient)
1. A subscription service alone will not satisfy this criterion.
2. Changes to the legal register/references without review of the relevant procedural impacts will not satisfy this criterion.

Many of the criterion from the Scheme closely align to other safety standards, e.g. AS4801, so the guidance is helpful to understand the requirements of those other standards too. This particular criterion is also a requirement in the ISO Quality, Safety, and Environmental standards.


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