Benefits of Implementing OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health & Safety Management System
Organisations certified to the standard of OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health & Safety Management System report a range of benefits, including:
- A reduction in lost working days
- Fewer workplace accidents
- Fewer medical claims
- Recognition by insurers and regulators
- A more disciplined approach to safety
- Improved employee motivation, retention and satisfaction
- Reduced legal costs
- Less time and money spent on accident-related investigation and paperwork.
The OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Management System was developed to respond to customer demand for a recognisable occupational health and safety management system standard against which their management system could be assessed and verified.
OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Management was developed to be compatible with ISO 9001:2008 (Quality) and ISO 14001:2004 (Environmental) management systems standards in order to facilitate the integration of quality, environmental and occupational health and safety management systems by organisations if they wish to do so.
Organisations are increasingly concerned with achieving and demonstrating sound occupational health and safety (OH&S) performance by controlling their OH&S risks consistent with their policy and objectives. They do so in the context of increasingly stringent legislation, the development of policies and other measures that foster good OH&S practices. The advantages of an effective OHSAS management system include:
- Provides a structured approach for managing OH&S
- Establishes and maintains a commitment to occupational health and safety
- Demonstrates strong commitment to safety excellence
- Organisational structures in place with clear roles and responsibilities
- Existence of a continuous improvement culture
- Strong levels of trust and communication
- Reduction in incident levels with increased measures of performance.
- Contributes to business performance by reducing cost and liabilities.
OHSAS ensures a consistency of approach which as a minimum ensures compliance.
Occupational Health and Safety is based on the following three aspects:
- Hazard identification: this involves recognising a hazard exists(the situation or source which has the potential to cause harm in terms of ill health or human injury)
- Risk Assessment: this involves evaluating the risk arising from the hazard(a combination of the likelihood of a hazardous event or exposure and the severity of injury or ill health that can be caused by the event of exposure)
- Determination of applicable controls: measures relevant to eliminate or reduce risk to an acceptable level. Measures are based on the hierarchy of control measures
It is vital for organisations to handle these aspects with greater significance in order to achieve an effective health and safety system. The aspects above are the foundation for implementing OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Management. Theoretically they are considered a part of the Plan step in the PDCA cycle, however most auditors agree that these aspects should be dealt with before designing the system as a whole.
PDCA model applied to OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Management
The OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety standard uses the management approach tool which is called the PDCA (Plan – Do – Check – Act) cycle. The PDCA is an on-going process which allows organisations to establish, implement and maintain its health and safety policy based on top management leadership and commitment to the safety management system. It consists of the following steps:
- Establish the objectives and processes necessary to deliver results in accordance with the organisation’s OH&S policy
- Implement the process
- Monitor and measure performance against OH&S policy, objectives, legal and other requirements, and report results
- Take actions to continually improve OH&S performance
The standard can be implemented to your whole organisation or to just a part of it. In order to achieve the best results the whole organisation has to work on the same system and OH&S policy is integrated into other management systems and into the culture of the organisation.
In the planning stage the organisation has to:
- Devise an OH&S policy
- Plan for hazard identification, risk assessment and determination of controls
- Identify relevant legal requirements
- Plan for emergencies and responses
- Manage change effectively
- Devise procedures for performance measuring, monitoring and improvement
- Provide and ensure the appropriate use of safety equipment
- Train in order to introduce an OH&S culture and establish the importance of organisation’s safety statement, policies and objectives
- Consult employees and communicate
The management has to be consulted firstly in order for them to feel confident in supporting the new system and constantly driving it forward. The workforce then has to be consulted as the lower level employees have valuable insight, ideas and feedback about the new system. As they are the ones going to be most affected by the change, it is logical to ensure they believe and understand the need for change. If this is not realised it could result in too much resistance
A lead senior manager should be in charge of the new OH&S system in order to ensure smooth implementation and at the same time there should be a person that looks after that part of the system or ‘owner’ of each element of the process. This ensures the appropriate structure at your organisation and effectively minimizes risk.
The implementation should be started by breaking the system down into specific elements instead of tackling it as a whole. A solid foundation for the whole system to work effectively is created by concentrating on specific elements in a logical order.
Another important aspect of health and safety is having employees do jobs that suit their competencies. A matrix should be created to show all groups of personnel, their required competencies, training and status of each. These formal procedures should instil the required awareness within your organisation
This step consists of the following:
- Conducting internal audits
- Evaluation of legal compliance
- Identifying non-conformities and addressing them
- Thorough analysis of incidents and incidental data
- Measuring performance and monitoring
If an internal audit is not conducted periodically it will probably result in the breakdown of the system as a whole. Where there is no control it often happens that risks tend to arise especially quickly.
Corrective actions should be used to instantly tackle any arising non-conformities. As well as dealing with non-conformities it is crucial that your organisation implements preventative action where any possible emergencies should be identified and relevant response procedures should be developed.
It is important to strike a balance between being overly bureaucratic and overly light on certain elements of the system when devising controls and measuring performance. The OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Specification is not supposed to hinder the performance of your organisation but improve it.
The management review is the final step, it is a vital part of the continuous improvement process and so the standard itself outlines what should be included in such a review.
The senior management carry out the management review and this involves reviewing the suitability, adequacy and effectiveness of the system. It should also include assessing opportunities for improvement and the necessity to change the OH&S policy and the OH&S objectives. If changes are needed, the necessary resources for implementing them should also be provided by the senior management. Providing resources is a way of showing commitment to the new health and safety system.
In order to get certified for OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Management there are a number of steps involved:
The first step involves the application for certification
This is where:
- An on-site analysis of your current system is conducted
- This will then be assessed against the standard
- A report is then prepared to highlight the gaps between your current system and the standard
The gap assessment is optional and is not required for the certification process.
Preliminary Assessment – Stage 1
Your documentation has to be inspected and various areas have to be reviewed including:
- The proposed scope of your registration
- The status of implementation of your management system
- The appropriate regulatory and legal requirements
- Your management policies and objectives
- Whether the system addresses the key areas of your business
- Your site-specific activities – top level process review
- Your key management elements, e.g. internal audits, reviews and complaints procedures
- Your readiness to move onto Stage 2 of the assessment, the Registration Assessment
There should be a period of several weeks between preliminary assessment and registration assessment so that any issues can be sorted in relation to the preliminary assessment. If there are major non-conformities a second preliminary assessment will have to be carried out.
Registration Assessment – Stage 2
This involves a full review of your management system in order to confirm that your management system is controlled. When the registration assessment is complete a notified body issues a detailed report along with the outcome which recommends registration or not. If any issues arise during the assessment you will be expected to submit an action plan which should describe what changes are to be made to the management system in order to reduce or eliminate the risk of the same issues occurring again.
Surveillance and Re-assessment
A notified body visits each company at least once a year to make sure the management system is being maintained and that it is achieving it’s expected outcomes. A part of the management system is reviewed in depth during each visit.
There is an expiry date on the certificate and the certificate expires every three years. Before the expiry date occurs a detailed assessment of the whole management system is undertaken to ensure every element of the system is performing satisfactorily and the results of the previous visits are taken into account.
During the registration period, changes are inevitable. In order to make sure the management system remains sound the notified body works with each registered organisation. Usually, change can be reviewed and assessed during routine surveillance visits. The notified body reserves the right to suspend or revoke certification in cases where change leads to the breakdown of the system.