Audits vs Peer Assist Reviews - how do you choose?
Updated: May 30, 2020
The objectives of a Peer Assist Review (PAR) are similar to those of an Audit, but the approach and outcome are significantly different.
In both cases, the activity is designed to provide assurance as to the current status of corporate road transport operations (within a country of operations, business unit or department) in terms of compliance with corporate and national safety standards. Both activities will identify gaps between policy and practice and both activities can provide recommendations on how to close any gaps identified.
However, whilst an Audit generally takes less time it will tend to focus on whether standards have been met, rather than on any deficiency in the standards themselves, and so may not identify gaps which are inadequately addressed in the standards.
A PAR team would typically consist of a Transafe Network specialist as team leader, accompanied by up to three staff members from the client’s management/supervisory team (possibly senior staff members from the HSE, and logistics/transportation functions).
Typical topics and activities examined in a PAR include:
All vehicle operations-passenger, materials, owned or sub-contracted
Vehicle maintenance / inspection
Driver and supervisory competencies
Driver behaviour on the road
Corporate Road Safety documentation (policies, procedures, specifications etc)
Local Road Safety documentation
Actual compliance "on the ground”
Effectiveness of current road transportation controls
Systems in place: e.g. Safe Journey Management, night driving controls
Incident investigations and reporting depth of investigation, are all the learning points being extracted and cascaded?
HSE road transport data management and performance reporting, KPIs to measure improvements
Our experience is that an Audit provides a valuable quick external snapshot of compliance with existing standards, and an opportunity for identifying some areas for improvement. However, it can often be seen as an enforcement type activity by those being audited, and this can limit the degree of openness initially encountered by the audit team, with the aim of the audited being to hide areas of non-compliance. Whilst good auditors are able to overcome this, it can frustrate the objective of getting maximum benefit from the audit.
A Peer Assist Review involves a collaborative approach which not only requires more active involvement in the process from the internal team, but also operates on a no-blame basis - the emphasis being on identifying and solving problems rather than identifying a failure to comply.
Both Peer Assist Reviews and Audits have a place - audits are great once you are confident you have everything in place and wish to measure compliance, but for most organisations we'd suggest a Peer Assist Review first. Otherwise, even if your compliance is excellent, you may be complying with a system which doesn't adequately control the risks.
For more information on Peer Assist Reviews or Audits, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org