OHSAS 18001 consultants -Occupational Health and Safety Management System

Introduction

OHSAS 18001 is a requirement standard that is finding wide application throughout the world (about 55,000 organizations were certified in 2009). The drafting Committee on the OHSAS Project Group represented national standards bodies, regulators, safety practitioners and certification bodies from around the world including the USA, South America, Europe, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia and China. A number of countries have formally adopted it, such as the UK, as a national standard (BSOHSAS 18001) because it reflects the management principles used in the country for occupational health and safety and is consistent with the way organizations manage their risks.

The BS Committee consisting of HSE, CIEH, TUC, IOSH, BSC, RoSPA, ABI and many industrial Trade Associations including the Federation of Small Businesses were consistent with HSG65 and advanced the management approach to occupational health and safety.

All the documents follow the Plan Do Check Approach (PDCA) as used in ISO 14001 on environmental management which is in line with the EU requirement given in the Framework Directive of 1989 – hazard identification, risk assessment and control of risks that are unacceptable without some preventive measure being applied. The risk based approach has been adopted in many countries throughout the world.

Overview

OHSAS 18001 represents an international consensus on what organizations should manage with respect to occupational health and safety, no matter where they are in the world or what sector they operate in. It focuses equally on occupational ill-health as much as safety as it recognises that increasingly, occupational ill-health is becoming an equally significant cause of human misery and cost to organizations, society and the economy of the country.

It recognises that most countries in the world have laws and regulations in place that must be complied with and the standard must take this into account and not conflict with these requirements. It adopts the risk based approach of identifying what harm could occur and the likelihood of such an event or events happening. The organization is required to control all those that are of concern by establishing a management system to continually improved performance. The suite of standards is:

  • OHSAS 18001:2007 Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements
  • OHSAS 18002: 2008 Occupational health and safety management systems - Guidelines for the implementation of OHSAS 18001:2007
  • BS 18004: 2008 Guide to achieving effective occupational health and safety performance
  • PAS1010: 2011 Guidance on the management of psychosocial risks in the workplace

Requirement standards such as OHSAS 18001 are fairly short and identify what must be in place – the clauses of the document use the term “shall” whereas the international support document OHSAS18002, talks in terms of “should” giving guidance on how the requirement in OHSAS 18001 might be met.

In the UK, BS 18004 (which replaced BS8800) offers good practice guidance for organizations that wish to do more than the minimum and be more in line with good UK organizations. It provides additional guidance on occupational health, worker involvement, emergency preparedness etc. The recently issued PAS 1010 reflects the growing concern of stress in the workplace.

The UK government agency (HSE) document HSG65 is widely used around the world is currently being refreshed with a PDCA approach that has much similarity with OHSAS 18001.

Is OHSAS 18001 relevant to your organization?

OHSAS18001 is suitable for all organizations looking to improve the way occupational health and safety is operated and managed, regardless of what sector. In general, it is not permitted to limit the scope of application or to limit which areas should be left out. It is not possible to exclude contractors or visitors. It has been adopted in 116 countries and over 40 sectors.

In addition, OHSAS 18001 is closely aligned to other management system standards such as ISO 14001 (Environmental) and the quality management system standard ISO 9001, following the Plan Do Check Act approach. The framework is very closely aligned to ISO 14001 allowing integration or alignment with common parts of the arrangements (see IMS and PAS 99).

Global adoption

The OHSAS Project Group Survey of Certifications in 2009, showed there were about 55,000 organizations registered which reflects a 70% increase over the figures recorded in 2007.

Benefits

  • Implementing an Occupational Health and Safety Management System can motivate staff as it shows commitment to their welfare – employees then can feel greater commitment to the organization.
  • The reduction in injury to workers is of benefit to both employees and employers.
  • Cost savings can be made through reduced business interruptions and absenteeism and greater motivation,
  • Customers take confidence when seeing organizations managing occupational health and safety as they are more confident that there will be no business interruptions and regulatory action against their supplier.
  • Reduction in insurance premiums can be obtained by improved risk management and improved performance

Auditing

OHSAS 18001 requires the organization to carry out internal audits in order to determine whether the system is working in the manner required to deliver the policy and objectives. It is an opportunity to test the system and identify opportunities for both improving the system and OHS performance. External auditing by and accredited certification body offers the benefit of external experts assessing the system and independently verifying the system is operating effectively.

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