How an OHSAS 18001 Health & Safety Management System Helps Your Company
Over the years, OHSAS 18001 has gained international popularity as a standard according to which to set up a health & safety management system. Compliance with the standard shows the company’s ongoing commitment to improve their health & safety profile through the elimination of workplace-related hazards and accidents. The standard follows a systematic approach to the development, implementation, and maintenance of a health & safety management system. As such, it provides excellent guidelines to manage health and safety risks efficiently and to ensure compliance with the legal requirements of South Africa.
Through the adoption of OHSAS 18001-compliant risk management principles, the company can significantly improve its performance in terms of occupational health and safety. Principles that will form part of such an implemented health & safety management system include:
- Involvement on executive level, and accountability of employees regarding health and safety at the workplace on all levels of the organisation.
- Systematic identification of risks and hazards, in addition to the application of relevant and risk-related control measures to manage the said risks effectively.
- Efficient maintenance of safety systems to manage risk activities and emergencies.
- Ongoing monitoring of relevant legislation and ensuring compliance with legislative requirements.
- Proper and systematic investigation of incidents to identify the root causes in order to prevent recurrence.
OHSAS 18001 compliance is beneficial to any company that wants a clear and structured health & safety management system to protect employees and users of the company premises against health and safety risks. The higher the risk of hazards and the more intense such hazards and potential thereof, the more a company benefits from implementing an OHSAS 1800-compliant health & safety management system. Suppliers of products and services in high-risk industries, such as mining or construction, will find that they often need to prove their compliance with legislative requirements and procedures. Having an OHSAS 18001-compliant health and safety management system in place helps to demonstrate this and helps the supplier avoid tedious red tape in building supplier-client relationships, such as when tendering for government-related projects. The areas in which OHSAS 18001 compliance are very beneficial are briefly explained:
Increased sales through a larger client base because of meeting health & safety requirements
Large companies cannot risk their reputations when it comes to health and safety. Taking a shortcut in safety can cost a company millions of rands in compensation payments if someone is injured because of this. In many instances, client companies require compliance, and proof of it, before entering into business relationships with suppliers. Compliance thus helps to gain a competitive edge over suppliers tendering for the same contracts, but that are not compliant with OHSAS 1801.
Cost reduction related to incidents
An oil spill affects a large area and can even wipe out a sensitive ecosystem. Apart from hefty penalties payable for such environmental damage, the company must clean up and this also costs money. Indeed, any type of incident where the health and safety of personnel and anyone of the area can be affected should be avoided if possible. This is where compliance with OHSAS 18001 helps, since the organisation follows a systematic approach to identify potential hazards, high risks, and safety situations early on. With a system in place to manage this effectively (including emergencies), the company saves on costs of clean-up, compensation, penalties, work hours lost, and equipment replacement. With a compliant system in place, incidents and the level of severity of such incidents, are significantly reduced. This, in turn, translates to higher productivity and increased profits.
Reduction in operational risks
Some operational environments are more hazardous than others. An open-pit mine site where large vehicles operate on a daily basis is certainly more dangerous than the office environment. However, occupational injuries take many forms. An office worker can seek compensation for injuries related to their posture because of the seating provided. A worker at a large pharmaceutical company can accidently be exposed to a hazardous chemical or the construction worker at a new building site can fall from a scaffolding. Implementation and maintenance of an OHSAS 18001 health & safety management system helps the company to address specific operational risks effectively. In the construction environment, specific rules will apply regarding ladder and scaffolding safety whereas, in the office environment, executives will see to it that seating and air-conditioning are safe. By reducing operational risks through compliance, the company saves money and ensures higher employee morale.
Improved Brand Image
Compliance helps the company to differentiate themselves by showing that operations are safe and properly managed. Low incident rates, responsible management of risks, regular good scores on health and safety audits, and certification all help to build a positive image of the company.
How to Become Certified
It is important to decide whether just to become compliant or whether your firm wants to become OHSAS 18001-certified. If the latter is the case, you will need to study the standard in-depth and will benefit from our consultancy expertise regarding appropriate training to meet the standard requirements. You will need to decide which of your premises, operations, products, and services to include in the OHSAS 18001 certification. Determine what you hope to gain through the implementation of an OHSAS 18001 health & safety management system. The complexity of your operations and your company’s health and safety status, and the procedures in place, must be investigated. You will be surprised how many areas are already compliant. Once the planning phase is over, you need to implement the system.
It is extremely important to make sure top-level management is involved. You will need to develop communication channels, initiate awareness campaigns, and have your personnel trained in health & safety. The GAP analysis will be crucial to successful preparation of certification. Here, we can help. We conduct the GAP analysis to determine the current state of your health & management system and operations in comparison with the requirements of OHSAS 18001. Once all non-conformances have been addressed, it is time for the independent certification audit.
Once your health & safety management system is OHSAS 18001-certified, we set up the maintenance plan, which includes regular management reviews to ensure ongoing improvement and thus continued compliance with requirements of the standard.